I’d heard that there was more to Leeds than city centre shopping so one sunny morning I took the train there to have a look around. Leeds is located in West Yorkshire and is only a two and a quarter hour rail journey from London King’s Cross station. Instead of leaving Leeds Railway Station from the main concourse, I followed signs to the rear of the station and left at its shiny new glass and steel south exit at Holbeck Urban Village.
Stepping outside the station, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a welcoming, waterside setting. The new development is an urban renewal project located amongst former engineering and manufacturing buildings some of which date from the 18th century and have now been given heritage status. The blend of these old mills with modern apartments and leisure facilities seems to work well, showcasing the industrial heritage with contemporary designs. The former mills are now home to financial services and digital companies and the area is starting to have a vibrant feel about it as more hotels take up waterside positions.
A selection of cafes, bars and restaurants have opened, most with outdoor seating overlooking the dock basin. Canal boats add a splash of colour and I always find them interesting to look at.
It’s little known, but a free water taxi operates from beside the lock gate here, taking passengers on a 7 minute journey to Granary Wharf. The water taxi runs every day but doesn’t operate to a timetable, just shuttling to and fro as people wish to use it. I clambered aboard, sharing the journey with just one other passenger who was staying in a nearby hotel and had heard about the water taxi from the receptionist. I enjoyed the short journey, the city seeming to take on a different perspective from the water. Old warehouses have now been transformed into stylish city centre waterfront apartments regenerating a run down inner city suburb and bringing new life to the area.
The water taxi terminates at Granary Wharf, just outside the Royal Armouries Museum which first opened its doors in 1996. As part of the national collection, entrance to the museum is free and it’s home to the nation’s arms and armour and displays over 8,500 objects in its six themed galleries. The museum features theatrical performances, live combat interpretations and falconry displays. Granary Wharf is where the Leeds Liverpool canal meets the River Aire, it has more hotels, cafes and bars making it an attractive part of the city for a waterfront walk if the weather is nice.
After some lunch I continued my walk and crossed the Centenary Bridge which was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Leeds acquiring city status. On the South Bank I arrived at Brewery Wharf with its striking public art and open squares, a vibrant part of the city during the evenings and at weekends. Further on is ‘The Calls’ a fascinating area full of historic culture where former warehouses have been converted into chic wine bars and gastropubs.
The path then took me back to the heart of the city passing the Victorian market hall and Corn Exchange before returning to Leeds Railway Station, this time approaching through its main concourse, ready for my journey home.
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