Weekend Walk: Ardsley Reservoir & Leeds Country Way

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Known by some locals as Haigh Moor Reservoir, Yorkshire Water’s Ardsley Reservoir is near the intersection of the M1 and M62, yet it is surprisingly attractive.

This walk begins with a stroll along part of the waterfront path then crosses fields to the imposing St. Michael’s Church, East Ardsley, where it links up with the Leeds Country Way, a 62-mile circuit of the city. Considering its close proximity to two major motorways, sections of this route manage to retain their rural tranquility. The reservoir is popular with birdwatchers, and in winter its wildfowl population includes goldeneye, pochard and tufted ducks. It is worth checking the large numbers of gulls which use the reservoir for not-so-common winter visitors, glaucous gulls.

1. Turn left out of the car park and follow the road down to Ardsley Reservoir. Go left to take the path round the side of the water until some railings and a gate are encountered on the left. Go through the gate to follow the straight path rising to the side of Westerton Wood.

2. Turn right at the end of the wood to follow an indistinct field edge path. Follow a field boundary then cross a field using footprints as a guide to a hedge gap. Continue ahead, bearing slightly right to a wider hedge gap. From here aim to the right of a red brick house ahead.

3. Cross the busy A650 with care, turn left and walk a short distance to find a public footpath sign on the right. Follow the path beside a house ,and at a T-junction of paths turn right. At a field corner turn left then look for the wall gap into St. Michael’s churchyard. Past the church, walk down Church Lane.

4. Recross the A650 with care and take Pilden Lane slightly to the right, which carries the Leeds Country Way. Follow this route through fields overlooking the M1. At a metal gate turn right over a stile and follow the fence. Keep on this path to Woodhouse Hall Farm. Turn right here to cross a field aiming for a low whitewash-gabled building. Find a path to the side and follow it out to a road.

5. Cross with care, bearing right to follow Blind Lane past farms. In front of gates go left over a stile and follow the path along a fence. Cross a footbridge at the bottom and take the path out of trees to follow a line of pylons. Emerging on Haigh Moor Road, turn right to walk back to the car park.

Difficulty rating: 2 stars

Distance: 4 miles

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Map: OS Explorer sheet 289 (1:25000) Leeds

Parking: Yorkshire Water free car park on Haigh Moor Road, West Ardsley

Public transport: Haigh Moor Road is on the 117 Leeds-Wakefield bus route & 205 Pudsey-Morley-Tingley-Dewsbury route. For details contact West Yorks Metro on 0113 2457676 or www.wymetro.com

Refreshments: West Ardsley, East Ardsley.

Toilets: For refreshment customers