From 3 mile park jogs to 22 mile fell runs - we've got a route for you.

If you were to ask me how I felt about running, the answer would be a muddled, drawn-out assortment of random words, grunts and the occasional bare-faced lie. The truth is that even now, after a year of doing almost nothing else, I still don’t know. 

Back in January, after a particularly enthusiastic festive period, I could just about manage three or four kilometres at a good pace. I’m a weights man, you see. Fast forward eight months and I have run five trail ultramarathons since June and am gearing up to run the entire length of the Lake District in October. 

The canal is the perfect place to take up running: peaceful scenery, you don’t need a map, and it’s almost completely flat

What I’ve learned along the way though – aside from the fact that toenails are unnecessary, chafing is horrifically painful and I’m a complete idiot – is that Leeds is a phenomenal place to get into running. From short, flat loops to longer, higher trails with breathtaking views, there truly is something for everyone. 

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list that not only takes in everyone’s current capabilities; it also inadvertently provides a journey through my year. And if you fancy one of the more advanced routes that seems a bit ambitious right now, then walk it (with a little jogging in between).


These routes are short, with minimal elevation. If you can’t run the whole way, it doesn’t matter. They’re just as pleasant to walk.

Woodhouse Moor Parkrun (3.1 miles/5km, elevation 141 feet)

Where better to start than Parkrun? It’s an institution and Woodhouse Moor was the first course outside of London. It’s as flat as anything outside could ever be and people of all ages, shapes and sizes take part, either walking, jogging, running or carting their babies around in buggies. Start at the Clarendon Road / Moorland Road corner, run diagonally to the opposite corner, then complete three laps of the track before finishing near Hyde Park Corner. Hyde Park too far away? Leeds has several other excellent options, including Roundhay Park. Parkrun Leeds.

Beginners: 45 minutes, Intermediate: 25-30 minutes, Advanced: 20 minutes or under.

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Woodhouse Moor
Woodhouse Moor

Kirkstall Forge to Northern Monk (4.46 miles/7.1km, elevation 195 feet)

The canal is the perfect place to take up running. Not only does it provide peaceful scenery, but you don’t need a map and it’s almost completely flat. This little route is convenient because you can start at a train station and then take the train back from the city centre. Run out of the back of Kirkstall Forge, then along the canal to the candle building, where you cross the road and go down Marshall Street for a well-earned pint. 

Beginners: About an hour, Intermediate: 40-45 minutes, Advanced: 30-35 minutes

2018 07 19 Leeds Pub Walks Kirkstall Canal
Kirkstall Canal

Eccup Reservoir Loop (4.13 miles/6.64km, elevation 199ft)

A true runner’s favourite, Eccup Reservoir is a short but sweet loop that takes in plenty of waterside views along with farms and forestry to match. Park around Alwoodley Lane and walk or jog down to the reservoir via Goodrick Lane, before turning left or right and following it round. The path is clear and there isn’t much mud, so regular running shoes will do just fine.

Beginners: About an hour, Intermediate: 40-45 minutes, Advanced: 30-35 minutes

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Eccup
Eccup Reservoir


So, you’ve done a few 5ks and perhaps you’re thinking about entering the Abbey Dash 10k, or you’d just like to be able to run a little further for fun. Here are three of my favourites.

The Meanwood Valley Trail (6.35 miles/10.2km, elevation 567 feet)

The Meanwood Valley Trail is a wonderful reminder of how the countryside is all around us in Leeds. If you start at the statue of ex-Leeds mayor Henry Rowland Marsden on Woodhouse Moor, then you head up Delph Lane and on to the ridge before venturing north to the finish in Golden Acre Park. Coming back is a lot easier though, as it’s mostly downhill. Take a map, as it’s not always clear where to go and expect to do a bit of walking where it’s steep or slippery. Website 

Beginners: 2 hours, Intermediate 1.5 hours, Advanced 1 hour

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Meanwood Valley
The Meanwood Valley Trail

Temple Newsam/Rothwell Park Loop (8.2 miles/13.2 km, elevation 600 feet)

This one’s a real treasure, taking in a proper chunk of the stunning grounds of the historic Temple Newsam. From the stables, run down past Dog Kennel Hill and cross the M1. Turn right and do a loop around the far side of Skelton Lake before crossing the River Aire and the canal in quick succession and passing through Rothwell Country Park. There are hundreds of routes through the park, but you’re aiming to come out at the south-east corner and meet Holmsey Lane. Tunr left, cross the canal and the river once more, then head up Newsam Green Road to a right turn that takes you back across the M1 and on a lap of the Temple Newsam grounds, coming back on the Avenue and through Mather Woods to the start.

Beginners: 2.5-3 hours, Intermediate: 2 hours, Advanced: Under 1.5 hours

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Temple Newsam
Temple Newsam

The Leeds Country Way (9.83 miles/15.8km, elevation 745 feet)

The Leeds Country Way is actually just shy of 62 miles, taking in every kind of terrain imaginable along the way. If you want to run the whole thing, I can tell you that it takes about 16 hours, but there is an annual relay that separates it into six legs. My personal favourite of these is leg 2. Start at the entrance to Golden Acre Park and run through it, passing alongside Eccup reservoir on your way to the beautiful Harewood estate. From here, you run through the plantations and out to Bardsey, before turning south and finishing on Thorner Lane, right by Scarcroft Hill. Wonderful. Website

Beginners: 2.5-3 hours, Intermediate: 2 hours, Advanced: Under 1.5 hours

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Leeds Country Way
Leeds Country Way


You’ve found a pace that you can run at for ages and ages and you’re now ready to plan more adventurous routes with fewer limitations on distance and incline. Now the real fun begins.

The Tong Round (8.94 miles/14.3 km, elevation 962 feet)

A short but steep run from Pudsey across the valley to Tong offers fantastic views from both sides, as well as the joys of a muddy stomp through Black Carr Wood. From Queen’s Park, run around the back of Occupation Lane and on to Tyersall Lane, which takes you across to Holmewood. Wiggle your way down to Tong High School, then on to Manor Golf Course. From here, follow the path back to Tong and on to Keeper Lane, which will take you back down the valley and through Black Carr Wood. You’ll eventually resurface in Pudsey.

Beginners: 2.5-3 hours, Intermediate: 2 hours, Advanced 1.5 hours

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Tong Round
Tong Round

Otley to Blubberhouses Round (18 miles/29km, 1,740 feet elevation)

Too easy? Let’s ramp it up a bit. This route has several options that can make it longer or shorter, but it starts and finishes at the River Wharfe bridge in Otley. The most scenic route goes through Weston Hall to Weston then Askwith, before climbing sharply over Low and High Round Hills and Bridge Hill up to Blubberhouses. From here, take the path that runs down the east side of Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs before heading past Jack Hill and down to the crossing over Lindley Wood reservoir. Head through Farnley, then turn right to follow the road back down to Otley.

Beginners: 6 hours, Intermediate: 4 hours, Advanced: 3-3.5 hours

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Otley Round
Otley Round

The Ilkley Skyline (22.8 miles/36.7 km, 2,795 feet elevation)

I could have chosen hundreds of routes – and I’ll make honourable mentions of the Bronte round from Haworth, or Holme Moss/Black Hill down in Holmfirth, but this is a Leeds-based site, so I wanted to keep it to at least tenuously Leeds only routes – and Ilkley is partly within a Leeds postcode. This route was devised by the North Leeds fell runners (see link below) and covers Ilkley Moor on your way to a descent into Addingham and up the hill to Beamsley Beacon on the other side. You then head across to Lippersley Pike before coming back down into Askwith, through Burley-in-Wharfedale and up the final hill to the start/finish point on Moor Road. It’s an absolutely stunning route, with some of the best views you could ever wish to see. Website

Beginners: Take a whole day – replenish supplies in Addingham, Intermediate: 5-6 hours, Advanced 4 hours

2018 09 26 Leeds Running Simon Richardson Ilkley Round
Ilkley Round