The Cow & Calf, Ilkley – The famous rock formation, made of millstone grit, is so named because one larger rock sits beside a smaller one, just like a cow and calf. This is a great picnic spot not only for the stunning views but also because it can be easily accessed from the carpark and there’s plenty of space to get away from the crowds (please not due to the steep inclines, some walking routes aren’t advised for smaller legs or those with restricted mobility).
Getting There: Park at the Cow & Calf Car Park (opposite the pub) on Hangingstone Road, Ilkley LS29 8RS
Surprise View, Chevin Forest Park, Otley – Surprise View in Otley is a woodland walking spot with, as the name would suggest, the most amazing views. Just a short walk from the carpark will take you to a lookout point across lower Wharfedale. There are plenty of walking routes to enjoy whilst there, as well as bouldering and the chance for the kids to explore (please note due to the steep inclines, some walking routes aren’t advised for smaller legs or those with restricted mobility)
Getting There: Park for free at Surprise View Car Park, Otley Chevin, Yorkgate Road, Otley, Leeds, LS21 3DG
Wharfemeadows Park, Otley – Lying alongside the River Wharfe, the park and gardens are the perfect place for a picnic and to feed the ducks. The play area and skate park are great ways to entertain the kids and if you’re feeling very adventurous, you can take a boat out on the river.
Getting There: Farnley Lane, Otley LS21 2RW
Golden Acre Park – Golden acre park is an ideal picnic spot for kids, the park has flat paths suitable for pushchairs, bikes and scooters and a beautiful lake to walk around. There is also a nature trail and bird hides at the connected Adel Dam. With picnic tables dotted around the place and a cafe serving hot drinks, Golden Acre is the perfect spot.
Getting There: Park at the car park on Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds LS16 8BQ. You can also get the number x84 and X85 buses from Leeds City Centre
Temple Newsam Park – Temple Newsam is set within over 1500 acres of parkland, woodland and farmland, with many perfect picnic spots across the estate. It’s free to visit the grounds and nearby playground and there’s always plenty of space free. If you’d like to combine it with a day out for the kids including you can also pay to visit the house and farm as well.
Getting There: Temple Newsam Park, Off Selby Road, Leeds LS15 0AE. Parking is free, except for in the car park immediately next to the House & Farm. You can also get the number 19 bus from Leeds City Centre
Meanwood Park – This is a lovely spot for a picnic due to the open grass areas, flat paths, playground and stream. You can also combine it as part of a walk along the Meanwood Valley Trail if you’re feeling more energetic.
Getting There: Park for free in the car park on Green Road, Meanwood, Leeds LS6 4LT. You can also get the number 51 bus from Leeds City Centre which will drop you off outside Waitrose. It is a short 5-minute walk to the park.
Roundhay Park – The park covers over 700 acres of rolling parkland, lakes, woodlands, formal gardens and contains several cafes and two playgrounds. Making it a perfect place for a picnic with plenty to do. The paths are flat and accessible, suitable for pushchairs, bikes, scooters and wheelchairs.
Getting There: Mansion Ln, Leeds LS8 2HH. There are five car parks located in the following positions: at the south end of the park off Wetherby Road; at the end of Park Avenue by the Lakeside Café; at the west side of the park by the old tram station off Princes Avenue; behind the Roundhay Fox pub off Mansion Lane and at the end of Mansion Lane by the Mansion House Hotel. You can also get the number 2 and 12 buses from Leeds City Centre
St Aidan’s Reserve – With a variety of circular paths of varying lengths and large areas of open grassland, St Aidan’s is a great place for families to enjoy the outdoors, share a picnic and play together.
Getting There: Parking is free for members or £3 for non-members at the RSPB St Aidan’s Nature Park, Astley Lane, Leeds LS26 8AL. The Number 167 bus from Leeds City Centre to Castleford stops at the Park.
Middleton Park – 190 hectares of green space containing something for everyone with attractions including a café, bowling greens, a playground, woodland, fishing lake and community events held throughout the year. You can also catch the Middleton Steam Railway from the park, for a short railway ride that younger kids will love.
Getting There: Park at Town Street, Middleton, LS10 3SH. Number 13 and number 2 buses from Leeds City Centre also stop close by the park.
Thwaite Mills – Just 2 miles south from the city centre, Thwaite Mills is a working watermill actually nestled on a little island! There are some lovely waterside paths and picnic areas, lots for kids to explore and see and the setting is surprisingly peaceful.
Getting There: Thwaite Lane, Stourton, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS10 1RP. There is free onsite parking, although entry to the museum is chargeable.
Hall Park Japanese Gardens – Hall Park in Horsforth is a lovely spacious park, with plenty of space for children. There is a good play area, with sandpit and a skatepark. The park also has a small landscaped Japanese Garden, which is very pretty throughout the year.
Getting There: There are two free car parks available on Fink Hill and Hall Lane in Horsforth. The number 50A bus from Leeds City Centre stops on Town Street just along from the park.
Kirkstall Abbey – The Abbey itself is beautiful but there are also 7 acres to explore in its grounds too. Including the riverside, woodland, play area and if you’re looking to make a longer trip of it, Abbey House Museum. If you forget something for your picnic, the Gatehouse Cafe has a wide selection of food and drinks on offer.
Getting There: Free car park available just off Abbey Walk, Leeds LS5 3EH. The number 33 bus from Leeds City Centre also stops just outside the Abbey
Bramley Fall Woods – Large woods with onsite parking, a playground and playing fields. The wood also backs onto the Leeds Liverpool Canal and its locks and there is a great walk along the riverside. Making this an absolutely brilliant place to explore with children as well as a peaceful spot for a picnic. There are a lot of well-defined paths, however, there are also and some steep steps in places if you are doing some of the walks.
Getting There: Bramley Leeds, LS13 1RD. There is a small car park on site. The 508 bus from Leeds City Centre also passes the park too.
Tong Valley & Fulneck – Tong Valley separates Leeds and Bradford and is a beautiful stretch of old green roads, bridleways and country lanes, running alongside Pudsey Beck. There is also the fascinating Moravian settlement to look round at Fulneck. And the beer garden at The Bankhouse Pub is always a great place to stop for refreshments and let the kids run off some steam.
Getting There: Parking is available on the roadside in Fulneck and in Tong Village, along Tong Lane. There are no direct buses from Leeds City Centre, although you can get a number 4 bus to Pudsey Lowtown and walk from there.
Cover Image Kirkstall Abbey. Copyright Tim Green licensed under Creative Commons.