Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve

A trail run around one of the most vibrant urban nature reserves in Leeds.


Elevation gain:14m

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The Kirkstall Nature Reserve is a circular trail running route with lots of hidden tracks weaving in and out of it.

Running the Kirkstall Nature Reserve is a great choice for a stop off run. You can lap this one as much or as little as you want. And what’s more your probably going to want to stop off by the beach.



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 1.33km and an elevation gain of 14m.

The largest non-stop incline begins in the second third of of the route, and has a distance of 196m and an elevation gain of 7m. You can see this on the above elevation chart in red.

Route Highlights

Psst, we'll let you in on a little secret. On the River Aire side of the trail route is a special shingle area called Armley Beach. Amongst the muddy banks on the river edge pops out a pebble beach. We don't advise swimming, yet it makes for a good spot to finish your run and sit basking in the beauty and sounds of the river.

Best Time To Run

The best time to run the Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve is in summer. Sitting with your toes in the water at Armley Beach will be one of those simple things you enjoy.

Route Description

The circular trail run is just over 1-mile in length and travels parallel to the River Aire one side and close to the Leeds-Liverpool canal the other. There’s a single marked loop but we know that running off-piste through the centre of the reserve makes for an exciting and unpredictable run.

Run Extension

Get on to the canal and extend your run with flat miles east towards Leeds city centre or west towards Bradford.


As it’s full of foliage and near the river your likely to come across flies and bugs, particularly in the warm summer months.

The usual suspects are your mosquitos, midges, ticks and the lesser known but increasingly prevalent horseflies. You’ll know if the latter bites you! Trust us!

We recommend that you wear some decent insect repellent to minimise the risk of being bitten.


Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve is located in the west of Leeds. The reserve is 10-hectares in size and sits snuggly between river, canal and railway where wildlife meets urban living.

The reserve provides more than just running. The wildlife and plant-life is so numerous that its  hard not to come for something more. In season the route is full of blackberries – bring a bag!

If you like running in this area, why not take a look at some other routes in similar areas. This route went through: Kirkstall.

More after this. Continue reading below ↓


The nearest toilet to the start of the run route is opposite the nature reserve entrance over at the City Golf club house.


Park for free on the access road – but avoid blocking the gateway to the reserve – on Redcoat Lane, postcode: LS4 2AW (Google Map Directions)

Food and Drink

Down Redcote Lane and onto Kirkstall road you’ll find plenty of nourishing cafes and restaurants…

Not far off the corner of Redcote Lane on Kirkstall Road is Meat is dead – this new joint is the first of its kind in Leeds. It’s a 100% meat free plant based restaurant. Ideal fuel for a vegan runner!

If you extend your run and take the canal route into town you’ll come across The Stables – It’s a cute canal side tea room in a stone cottage serving tea, coffee and homemade cakes.

Other Running Routes Nearby

Looking for other routes near Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve? Here are three just around the corner.