If you are looking for nature, muddy paths, and woodland then this is the route for you (minus the road on the way back). Starting and ending in Headingley it shows off the best bits of the Meanwood Valley Local Nature Reserve, and avoids the crowds when it reaches Golden Acre Park.
It starts off just outside of The Bowery in Headingley, and weaves down Shaw Lane and School Lane until it reaches the path for the Meanwood Valley Trail. From this point onwards the route is signposted with yellow Meanwood Valley Trail Owl markers. You then pass through the woodland, across Headingley Gold Course and up to Golden Acre Park. The route from Headingley to Golden Acre is a fairly continual incline. A real burn.
The route cuts away from taking you around Golden Acre, as it can get fairly crowded here. However if you are looking to extend it into the 14km range, this is where you could add the distance!
The way home is a little less exciting, but a gradual decline down the Otley Road, finishing back where it began.
As with all woodland, be careful as it can be muddy and slippery when wet. There are also areas with exposed stone and roots.
We would recommend trail shoes for this run as it is an ever changing terrain. Trail shoes differ significantly from road-running shoes, as they have far more protection against rocks and roots. The tread is more prominent as well which offers more traction.
With this being a 14km run it is also worth thinking about carrying more water. Especially if you run this on a hot day.
The Meanwood Valley Trail is a gem that starts at Woodhouse Moor and follows the Meanwood Beck through Headingley, Meanwood and Adel. It is a waymarked footpath and is a distance of 7 miles (11km) in total. Almost entirely away from roads it is a great place for an afternoon out.
For more information about the Meanwood Valley Trail we recommend taking a look at the Meanwood Valley Trail Guide.
Toilets can be found at the beginning of the route in the local cafes. Once on the route there is another toilet located at Meanwood Park café, and then some at Golden Acre Park – both at the Café and toilet block.
There is plenty of parking in Headingley. However to be close to the start of the route we would recommend using St Anne’s Car Park just opposite The Bowery – this is a paid parking and you may do just as well on a residential street off Otley Road.
Food and Drink
As the route begins and ends in Headingley, the world is your oyster. If you are looking for a post-run coffee and snack we suggest Sebby’s Café Deli. A super friendly place that does a great selection of food and drink.