This 5km (3-mile) loop is a great combination of forest, road and canal. It passes over Kirkstall Forge train station, along the canal by Bramley Woods, and back through Hawksworth Wood.
This run route has a real mix of urban and trail running that keeps it interesting over a short distance.
Wanting to find your way to the start of the route? Here is a link for a Google Maps Directions page.
This route has a distance of 5.08km and an elevation gain of 113m.
The largest non-stop incline begins in the final third of of the route, and has a distance of 212m and an elevation gain of 26m. You can see this on the above elevation chart in red.
The largest continual decline is 142m long with an elevation drop of 22m which starts within the first kilometre of the route. This is shown on the chart as green.
The airy and inviting wood of Hawksworth is one of the best highlights of running this route. A bog bonus is the bustling wildlife you might see on your journey. Keep an eye out for kingfisher, woodpecker and even roe deer.
Best Time To Run
The best time to run the Hawksworth Wood and Kirkstall Canal Loop is when the wildflower meadow in Hawksworth Wood is blooming. At different times of the year you can spot species like Spanish bluebell, creeping buttercup, red valerian, red campion, wood anemones
Starting at the roundabout by The Bridge Inn on Low Lane, head away from the pub down Butcher Hill and take a right onto the Hawksworth Wood trail. Follow the wood trail all the way, making sure to stay on the lower path at all times.
You will emerge onto Abbey Road. Here cross the road (using the lights) and run down Butlers Wharf towards the Kirkstall Forge train station. Cross to platform 2 and hop onto the Leeds Liverpool Canal footpath running parallel to the station.
Take a left once you reach the canal and follow it until you hit Pollard Lane. This stretch is a good flat section to up the pace and push yourself.
Go right down Pollard Lane and past the Abbey Inn, cross the bridge and take a right at Rein Road immediately after the bridge. At the end of Rein Road there is a footpath, follow this straight along between the River Aire and Kirkstall Forge Goit. It will eventually take a left up through the Outwood and back onto the Abbey Road.
At the Abbey Road go right until you get back to the traffic lights by Hawksworth Wood. Head back into Hawksworth Wood along the way you came and take a left once you reach Butcher Hill.
This route crosses the busy New Road Side in several places so take extra care when doing it. The canal has its own traffic flow so keep your eyes and ears alert to walkers, fellow runners and cyclists.
Hawksworth Wood is a airy wood running alongside Oil Mill Beck. It is around 8 acres in size and located by Kirkstall and Horsforth. It was given its name by the Monks of Kirkstall Abbey who used the wood for shelter and building resource. The site eventually became a quarry for millstone grit before regressing back to a patch of natural woodland.
The second part of the route is along the Leeds Liverpool canal. This stretch passes alongside Bramley Fall Woods (also used to be a quarry) and past the Newlay Three Rise Locks – these are fairly steep and add a good challenge to your run!
If you like running in this area, why not take a look at some other routes in similar areas. This route went through: Kirkstall.
There are toilets at The Bridge Inn, The Abbey Inn, and Kirkstall Forge if you need a quick stop off.
For any rubbish you may have bins are dotted along the canal and in Hawksworth Wood.
The route starts on the corner by The Bridge Inn (Postcode LS18 4HN – Google Map directions). If you are likely to end the run with a bite to eat you could park here.
Otherwise there is on street parking at Hawksworth Road – LS18 4JP (Google Map directions).
Food and Drink
The route starts and ends at The Bridge Inn, a friendly pub set on the roundabout at the end of Hawksworth Road. It has a decent sized beer garden and would be a great place to grab a bite to eat after your run! They offer a great choice of homemade meat and vegetarian options, including a daily specials board. Fun fact, this pub has been here since 1868 and regularly wins awards for its flower displays.
If you prefer more of a half way stop off, The Abbey Inn is at the bottom end of the route by the Leeds Liverpool canal. The Inn is smaller pub with a smashing beer garden. They are a bit light on food, but have a great selection of drinks to reward yourself after the run.