The new Kirkstall Forge station was opened in June 2016 (there was a previous station here from 1860-1905), and being about eight minutes from the centre of Leeds it provides an excellent way to quickly access some remarkably good countryside.
The route includes a stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal and a bridleway running beside the River Aire, but it is in Bramley Fall Wood and on the lovely old path known as Whitecote Lane that walkers get the feeling of being much further away from the centre of a major city. Bramley Fall Wood contains old quarries where some of the stone for Kirkstall Abbey is known have been produced. Birds include jay, long-tailed tits, sparrowhawk, bullfinch and - if you’re lucky - lesser spotted woodpecker. Walkers joining from the Bramley side begin at point 2.
1. From the north (A65) side of Kirkstall Forge station use the covered footbridge to reach the south (Bradford bound) platform. Follow the pedestrian ramp down to the entrance to Bramley Fall Wood. At a junction with a good path turn left and walk to Forge Locks on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Cross at the white footbridge, go up steps and continue to the top of the woodland.
2. The path swings right to walk through an area of parkland. (Walkers arriving from the Bramley side join this path and turn left). Continue past the area of open grass and keep on the same course back into woodland. Beside a fallen tree fork left on a minor path to a more prominent path. Cross a sports field behind goal posts, climb some steps and turn left to go up Pollard Lane.
3. Turn right at the top. Walk past some shops and houses and turn right immediately past The Rock public house. Walk down Whitecote Lane, which becomes a track then a path between walls. Cross a metalled lane further on and continue through woodland, eventually to emerge back on Pollard Lane. Turn left to cross the Leeds-Liverpool canal and the River Aire.
4. On the other side of the bridge turn right and walk past modern houses to join a bridleway running beside the river. This eventually turns left uphill to Horsforth New Road Side. At the top turn right and walk along the A65 to turn right on the access road back to Kirstall Forge station.
Difficulty rating: 1 star
Distance: 3.5 miles
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Map: OS Explorer sheet 288 (1:25,000) Bradford & Huddersfield.
Parking: Kirkstall Forge Station Postcode LS13 1RD, off A65 between Kirkstall and Horsforth, or Bramley Fall Wood, parking on B6517 Leeds & Bradford Road between Kirkstall Bridge and Rodley.
Public transport: Kirkstall Forge is on the Leeds-Bradford Forster Square line. Also, bus services from Leeds, Otley, Bradford, Keighley. For times visit www.wymetro.com or call 0113 245 7676.
Refreshments: The Rock and The Abbey pubs on the route.
Toilets: For refreshments customers.