This is a planned route, which I hope to complete in the near future. It's somewhat more of an Urban Ramble than the other walks that I've added so far, spending more time within Leeds/Rothwell, but taking in some of the linking countryside paths along the way.
I've suggested that this walk starts at the Leeds Urban Bike Park. It has good cake and coffee. From there, we will head down to the tramway, head north along the Middleton Railway and then out to the Aire & Calder Navigation. We'll start to return back at the Rothwell Country Park, before walking briefly through Rothwell and joining a disused railway to take us to Robin Hood, before climbing back up Middleton Hill and back to the bike park.
There are a few places for parking at Middleton Park now. The Bike Park has ample parking with two overflow car parks, there is also the main park car park and some spaces on the approach road. Also, there is parking along Town Street above the park. All parking is free, but it'd be pleasant to make use of the cafe, should you use the car park at the bike park.
Setting off through the park, follow the tarmac path that passes the BMX track and blue/red routes at the top of the hill. If you have a remote interest in cycling/sports, you will probably find something up here to entertain you as you pass through. The bike park opened toward the end of 2017 and appears to be a big success, reusing land that was previously a golf course and bringing in many visitors of all generations.
The tarmac path leads you down to the main park access road at the Rose Gardens.
Middleton park is reclaimed land on the site of historical mines/collieries and is an ancient woodland. The northern area of the park is home to an earthwork dating to 1204, which marks the boundary between Beeston and Middleton. Throughout the park, there are information points helping bring the history of this area to life. While walking the main, tarmacked road is pleasant, the whole site is accessible and, arguably, many of the nicer areas are found off the main access road.
In this case, we'll follow the road around, clockwise to the start of the tramway, where you can either descend off the road, to the left using the steps or the tarmacked ramp. You'll pass the steps first, but if you'd prefer the ramp, it is arond 160 metres (170 yards) further along the road.
The steps and ramp join up almost at the same point at the bottom of this descent and the tramway then runs off to the northeast; almost straight ahead from the bottom of the steps and doubling back on yourself if you came down the ramp.
At various points along the tramway, the Bike Park's forest trails cross from one side to the other. Cyclists are asked to be cautious at these points, but it makes sense to have your whits about you at these points. They are all clearly marked on signposts along the side of the tramway.
While you could carry on along the tramway right to the road at the end, where you can turn left to head down toward the John Charles stadium (which is a slightly more level footpath), this route recommends that you turn off left from the tramway after around 300 metres (330 yards). Here, a footpath will lead you downhill, crossing the cycle track once and then bearing right before you reach a stream. Don't cross the wooden bridge here, but continue along next to the stream. The route may not be entirely clear here, so I'll add more details once I've completed the walk.
You should emerge next to the overflow carpark for the John Charles stadium and this is where you'd join up had you walked the length of the tramway.
Heading straight across the roundabout, you'll find a footpath that runs parallel with Charles Way, on the opposite side of the road to the back of the aquatic centre.
This footpath follows the boundary of an industrial estate to the left, bearing to the left after 250 metres. Shortly after that, you will cross a tarmacked access road and continue on the footpath directly opposite.
The footpath runs alongside the Middleton Railway before turning right and passing under the M621.
Middleton Railway is the UK's oldest continuously working public railway and is now run by volunteers with services running from the terminus at Junction 5 (City South retail park) to the station at the North of Middleton Park. It runs on weekends and public holidays with diesel and steam days depending on the timetable. More information is available at their website.
The footpath emerges near the entrance to Middleton railway, where we will use the underpasses to cross the roundabout. Exiting from the north of the roundabout, take the footpath that bears right, passing by the Hunslet Club rugby pitch. Join Beza Street and follow along to Church Street and eventually to Low Road.
At this junction, use the crossings to head over Low Road and into Old Mill Lane, which you should follow, crossing one roundabout, until you reach the towpath of the Aire & Calder navigation.
Crossing two bridges, you'll continue along the far side of the Navigation to the weir and locks, where you cross back to the footpath running between the river and the navigation toward Thwaite Mills.
At the carpark, join the road and turn back on yourself to cross the Navigation on the road bridge. After the bridge, the footpath leaves to the left, where it follows along a wooded area, eventually emerging at the bridge where Skelton Grange Road crosses both the navigation and the river.
Half way over this bridge, there is a set of steps which leads down to the towpath. Follow the towpath until you have just passed under the M1.
A footpath now heads off to the left, which will take you up to a disused railway bridge. Turn right to cross the navigation using the bridge and then bear left with the lower of the paths, to follow along the navigation in the same direction of travel as before.
After approximately 500 metres, you'll arrive at a junction where you can turn right to pass under the railway bridge and into Rothwell Country Park.
As with the other country parks along the route of the navigation, this is area has been relatively recently reclaimed and is nowhere near the maturity of the reclaimed land of Middleton Woods. It has a very industrial feel to it, but its main focus is returning wildlife to the area, much in the same way as seen at Skelton country park and RSPB St Aidan's and Fairburn Ings.
The corridor along the Aire/Navigation is very promising in terms of returning land back to natural environment.
Leaving the country park along Bullough Lane and First Avenue, you will cross Leeds Road and continue on Stylebank Lane to the first crossroads, where a footpath leaves almost opposite, on the corner of Stylebank Lane and Haigh Road.
This is a relatively short section of disused railway, which will take you to Rothwell CofE Primary School. Turn left at the end of the footpath to join Abraham Hill and then first right onto Churchfield Road. At the end of Churchfield Road, carry straight on to The Paddock, which runs along the north side of the church grounds.
Turn right at the end of The Paddock, and then left onto the track that runs behind 32 Wood Lane. This track joins a footpath going through Rothwell Pastures, which in turn joins the disused railway line again.
There are quite a few footpaths around this area, so it may be hard to keep track of where you are. It appears the correct path is one of the few gravel footpaths, so you should be ok sticking to that as it bears to the right. Essentially, you want to be leaving the pastures by the westerly exit, following the disused railway.
The disused railway will bring you into the East of Robin Hood, where you continue to follow the line, crossing various roads until you get to the A61 at the Gardeners Arms. Turn right onto the A61 here and follow to Milner Lane where you turn left and follow around to the point where Thorpe Lower Lane passes under the M1.
Cross the road early here as traffic travels quite fast and the further you walk up the road, the more unsighted you are to traffic coming down the hill.
The footpath then takes a right turn off Thorpe Lower Lane, where you are best to follow the bridalway initially. There is a footpath that runs along the field boundary, but it is harder to follow.
There is a fairly well hidden footpath into the field just before you reach the first hedge, take this and follow the south of the hedgeline through two fields to a large gate/access route through the hedge. The one by the particularly stinky manure dump.
As you turn right through this gate, the footpath carries on dead ahead along an unfenced boundary between the two fields. When you get to the other side of the field, as the corner starts to drop away, a footpath drops down over a bridge crossing the Throstle Carr Beck. After the bridge, take a left at the footpath junction and follow to the south of the Middleton Nature Reserve.
Take the third right turn to join the housing estate on the other side of the ponds and follow up Woodside View to the junction of New Forest Way, where you will turn left and then right at the roundabout. Shortly after the roundabout, a footpath leaves to the left follow this and then take the first footpath on the right.
Where this footpath joins the next, take a left and then continue to bear right around the corner of the South Leeds Family Learning Centre.
Following this path north, it will eventually lead you to Ring Road Middleton where you turn left and follow all the way down to the entrance of the Bike Park to finish the walk.
Optionally, you can follow Ring Road Middleton until you reach Aldi, then turn right to follow St Philip's Avenue back to the main park entrance and follow the access road around to finish the walk.