Our second ride together, we decided to start with the hills and have a more leisurely return!
This route heads up over the top of Middleton, before heading back out and around Ardsley, to return back up through Kirkhamgate, Rothwell and finally back along the Aire & Calder Navigation before heading across the bottom of Middleton Woods in what appears to have become a regular mild climb back into Beeston!
Again, using the Tommy Wass as a neutral starting point, we first hit the cycle path going up Middleton Hill along Ring Road Beeston. This isn't a massively steep climb, but if you have legs like mine, it feels like it just keeps on going! As you near the top of the cycle path, there is a crossing at the lower entrance to the Bike Park, where you can easily and safely cross and join the road for the last section of the climb (and catch your breath while you hope the lights take some time to change).
Follow Ring Road right into the centre of Middleton and then turn right onto Middleton Park Avenue. At the end of Middleton Park Avenue you'll turn right again, onto Thorpe Lane.
After enjoying the slight downhill sections of Middleton Park Avenue and the initial section of Thorpe Lane, the long mild climb returns as you head back out to the A650. Before doing this ride, I was a little cautious of the junction onto the A650 as I'd only ever done it in a car. It has the feel of a busy junction, but there is good provision for bikes here. The right turn comprises of two lanes and to the left of those lanes, there is a cycle lane leading to an advance stop line for motorists and a small advantage for cyclists!
After turning right here, you'll be taking the immediate left, so you can comfortably stick to the left of the two lanes where traffic will naturally give you plenty of space. There's no racing necessary here either - the left turn is a second traffic light controlled junction and they are always on red as the traffic from Thorpe Lane approaches.
Turn left onto Smithy lane to continue the last bit of this climb and turn left, staying on Smithy Lane as the road bears right and becomes Constable Road. This cuts out a couple of corners, but eventually joins up at the same destination as Constable Road.
Turn right at the end of Smithy Lane onto Westerton Road and then take the second left onto Haigh Moor Road to pass Ardsley Reservoir and resume your climb!
It's a pleasing downhill from there to turn left onto Batley Road before a sharp ascent to head towards Kirkhamgate. The bit I struggled with here is the first part of the climb doesn't look to bad, so I went at it a bit fast, before rounding the corner and realising the climb gets a bit worse before you get to the top. Pace yourself and this hill won't be that significant!
Then it's over the motorway and into Kirkhamgate, turning left onto Brandy Carr Road.
Again, another sharpish climb after leaving Kirkhamgate and it's a relatively easy ride out to the end of Brandy Carr Road. Take the right turn at the end and then right again onto Bradford Road. The footpath here is officially a cycle lane, but I wouldn't recommend using it. It's a narrow footpath and as you get back to Wrenthorpe, you'll start to have to cross roads which means you'll probably be safer on the road anyway.
Turn left onto Potovens Lane where you'll start to climb again to cross the A650, before dropping back down into Lofthouse Gate. At the end of Potovens Lane, turn left onto Leeds Road, which will take you over the M62 and toward Robin Hood.
When you reach the Gardeners Arms on your left, you'll see access onto the Leeds Country Way on the opposite side of the road. The bridleway here follows the route of a dismantled railway into Rothwell, crossing two roads before bearing right at a junction in the path. This greenway takes you right into Rothwell along a fairly well hidden and surprise route ending at Rothwell Pastures (near Rothwell Holy Trinity Church). The path from the pastures skirts the back of a small row of terraces and when you get onto Wood Lane, you'll want to cross fairly soon to get to a road called "The Paddock".
At this point, you are just north of the town centre, where there is a supermarket and some shops, should you need refreshment!
Follow to the end of The Paddock and then almost straight ahead onto Churchfield Road. At the end of Churchfield Road, turn left and follow until you see the entrance back onto the footpath, following the route of the dismantled railway.
It eventually emerges at the corner of Haigh Road and Styebank Lane, where there are a couple of benches. It's not the most attractive spot for a picnic, but it's a spot!
After this junction, you'll continue north on Styebank Lane, crossing Leeds Road and heading straight on into First Avenue. This road leads down into Rothwell Country Park, which isn't quite as picturesque as it sounds like it could be, but staying on this road will lead you under a railway bridge and down to the Aire & Calder Navigation.
Here, you take the first right, which will climb back up onto another dismantled railway and you'll cross over one of the bridges you've just gone through. This route goes over the navigation, where there are options left and right to head down to the towpath. You'll follow the navigation as it heads west into Leeds, climbing the steps at Skelton Road bridge. Turn left at the top of the steps and immediately after the bridge, you'll want to drop back down to the navigation path. This is easiest on the far side of the road, where you'll have to jump the armco. There are also steps down on the left hand side of the road, but the right hand side is probably easier once you're over the barrier.
This path brings you out by the road bridge on Thwaite Lane. Turn left/head straight and follow to the traffic lights at the end of the road, where you'll turn right onto Thwaite Gate.
Take the first left onto Sussex Avenue, where you'll start your climb back toward Middleton, crossing the railway and the M621 and passing Hunslet Cemetery.
Immediately after the Cemetery, turn right onto East Grange Drive. Follow and the cross onto West Grange Drive. At the end of the road, turn left onto Old Run Road, which will take you via three roundabouts, back down to the John Charles aquatic Centre.
Go straight across the fourth roundabout as if entering the overflow car park and then join the footpath leaving to the left. This takes you into the bottom of Middleton Woods, where you can follow the route of a stream, which will lead you to a small wooden bridge, exiting the woods towards Cockburn school. Turn left and continue along the Setts to reach Gypsy Lane. Turn right onto Gypsy Lane and follow to the end, where you'll rejoin Ring Road Beeston and return down to the Tommy Wass.