Best Winter Run Routes in Leeds

Author profile image of Ben Fraser
Author: Ben Fraser
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A lit set of stairs in a park at night. There are lots of fallen leaves on the floor.

We love to talk about the winter weather with a droning negativity, however for runners it’s a pretty good season to lace up and get outside. 

Running in Leeds in winter can be a chilly and wet affair. Or you can land on both feet  running atop a hill on a crisp sunny day with views for miles around. What we can all be thankful for is we’re not in Manchester, where it rains on average 1-month more. Lets face it, you’ve got better weather in Leeds this winter, compared to our friends over the Pennines.  

Yet, lots of runners risk losing the habit in winter. Usually, a lack of route planning or stopping altogether are the culprits. LeedsRunRoutes have compiled a list of our favourite Leeds run routes in winter to give you a boost on those wet and dank days.

With all but one of the routes off-road and naturally lit its time to lace up the trail running shoes. And don’t forget to grab the head torch and high vis clobber. That way you will be steady on foot and seen by others in the dark.

Let’s get to it. Here’s the best winter run routes in Leeds:

Bah Humbug 10k

Located south of the city. The Bah Humbug 10k is an intriguing trail run that’s more of a historical time hop than it is a run route. It covers some of the biggest historical landmarks within Middleton Woods. Including the tram line and old broom colliery. 

Part of the mixed terrain 10k route also criss-crosses the abandoned Middleton Golf Course. This route can be difficult at times – the trail has technical sections – but these challenging bits are worth what is a thoroughly rewarding 10k trail run. Oh, and there’s something called ‘Scrooge hill’ affectionately coined by locals… it’s a steep set of stairs near John Charles Centre for Sport . 

This route is part of the Leeds race series; created and coordinated by the South Leeds Lakers and supported by numerous groups from the south including the South Leeds Sisters, Morley Running Club & Morley Tri-Club. 

Don your Santa hat and sign-up online. Or run it 365 days a year over at

Bramley Fall Trail 5km

A muddy trail with bare trees in Bramley Fall Woods. Great running trail.

Over in the dark depths of west Leeds is a native wood that’s more than 10,000 years old. The part of the wood that has mound hills and mystical trees brings more of Tolkien’s Hobbiton to mind than it does Bramley. We would argue that although this can get fairly muddy in the winter, it is one of the best winter running routes in Leeds.

Within Bramley Fall Wood there are three different arteries of travel – rail, river and canal – that meet in the middle. The Bramley Fall Trail 5km run takes in all of these.

This is an ideal route to get used to running a trail, as it has lots of generous flats alongside the railway and canal.  

The route begins and ends at the Abbey Inn. Grab a drink and warm up in front of the fire at the end. 

Get going on the Bramley Fall Trail 5km.

Howley Hall Ruins

The Howley Hall Ruins run route is a mixed terrain 3km route on the outer realm of south west Leeds. This run is an out and back affair to the remnants of the Elizabethan Country House. You will need to head to Dewsbury Road to start this one. 

The route is a mixture of trail and field and acts as a perfect off-road introduction. Part of the route passes through an ancient hall that was at the centre of the war between the parliamentarians and royalists. The once regal hall ended up being demolished between 1717 and 1730. Get a snap at the top of the ruins… it’s a good shot! 

Run the Howley Hall Ruins.

Chevin Forest parkrun 5km

A muddy misty trail in Chevin Forest, brilliant running trail.

The Chevin Forest is a green ridge that overlooks the town of Otley directly north of Leeds. The 5k parkrun course is a recent addition to the parkrun event series across the city. 

The hilly course – they’ve even named the big climb “killer hill” – casts an eye over some gorgeous views that will keep you coming back. The run travels through numerous woods over several bridleways. Keep an eye out for the ten mysterious wooden sculptures that have been installed by local artist Shane Green.

Lace up your trail shoes and be prepared for a muddy and uneven trail run on the Chevin Forest parkrun 5km

More after this. Continue reading below ↓

Leeds Run Tour 

The Leeds Run Tour route starts and finishes in the financial district while passing through the civic and cultural quarter. You’ll run through some of the busiest parts of the city centre, including the impressive University of Leeds campus. Before breaking out into surprisingly peaceful areas like the Georgian Park Square. 

This route also avoids the mud (an issue that tends to arise when running in the woods in winter). For that reason, and the fact that it is such an enjoyable run makes this top on our list for winter run routes in Leeds.

If you run a slight detour down Briggate grab an eyeful of the dazzling city centre Xmas lights that adorn the shopping promenade. Each decal sits 8 metres above the ground and is outlined by neon vinyl. So even in daylight you won’t miss these decorations with a difference. 

Sparkle your way around the city centre on the Leeds Run Tour

Temple Newsam parkrun 5km

View of Temple Newsam through a hedgerow walkway. Great for running.

Temple Newsam is a stunning Tudor-Jacobean manor house set within a vast wooded estate. 

For a long time runners in Leeds have been lucky enough to start their Saturday morning with an official parkrun around the main attractions of this manor. One that’s soaked in centuries of social history… if that’s your thing! 

The run itself moves between a pathway, gravel and mud trail; passing several of the finely kept gardens and water features. It’s fair to say that the winding hill on the way back up to the start is a tough one; so let’s hope the scenery takes your focus.

The estate turns into a bit of a winter wonderland come December which gives you another reason aside from your running to visit Temple Newsam parkrun 5k

Eccup Reservoir Loop

Picture a swathe of mist in suspension above 91 hectares of water as you bound your way around a gravel path lit chaotically by your head torch. The moon’s glow is bouncing off the water and animating the outline of the woodland in front of you as the first beams of the rising sun are beginning to hit your cheek. 

This is you on your morning run at the Eccup reservoir enjoying the vast array of scenery and wildlife – home to over 150 different types of birds – over 6 kilometres of blissful running. An idyllic flat route that lends itself to getting into a rhythmic stride. One to meditate and lose yourself on. 

Start your day with the Eccup Reservoir Loop.


Calverley Canal Canter 10k

The Rodley Boat Centre on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. Great for running.

At LeedsRunRoutes we love waterside runs. The Calverley Canal Canter 10k is as flat as a pancake and travels from one beautiful Yorkshire village to another, and back again. 

At a time of the year when things can get a little stressful and intense, this canal route is the perfect antidote to the pressure of Xmas. And there’s not a road to negotiate over (only under). 

Enjoy some of the finest Yorkshire greenery on the Calverley Canal Canter 10k.


From trail to road and back again we’ve taken you on a tour of some of the best off road running routes in Leeds this winter. You’re going to need a decent pair of trail running shoes to enjoy these run routes in Leeds to avoid turning into Bambi on ice. And don’t forget that all but one of the routes above are naturally lit by the sun. So grab your high vis clothing and a decent head torch before setting off to run these in the dark. 

Enjoy the best routes in Leeds in winter and let us know how you get on @LeedsRunRoutes

Author profile image of Ben Fraser
Ben Fraser

Ben is an experienced runner and fitness enthusiast who has been working in the sport and fitness industry for over 10 years. His passion for running began when he founded the Run Leeds project, while working for England Athletics. Ben is passionate about the sport of running and is always looking for ways to improve it. He is dedicated to helping runners of all ages and abilities to achieve their goals. He believes that running is one of the most enjoyable and accessible sports and loves to spread the joy of running.

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