Discovering waterside Leeds

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.

Leeds Railway Station South Entrance, Holbeck Urban Village
Leeds Railway Station South Entrance, 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.

Leeds Dock
Leeds Dock

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.

Water Taxi at Granary Wharf, Leeds
Water Taxi at Granary Wharf, Leeds

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.

On board the water taxi in Leeds
On board the water taxi in Leeds

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.

Brewery Wharf, Leeds
Brewery Wharf, Leeds

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 Calls, Leeds
The Calls, Leeds

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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Suggested accommodation:

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80 thoughts on “Discovering waterside Leeds

  1. So nice when a historic city reinvents itself and centers the development around water. The water taxi looks like a good idea to allow people to see the city from a different perspective. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. We spent at day at the Royal Armouries a while ago and really enjoyed it. I loved strolling around this area too but we didn’t do it enough. Thank you for the reminder of what a lovely place it is and for the info about the water taxi – I didn’t know about it but fancy trying it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading your interesting blog post on the Royal Armouries Joy. We have also visited the museum a couple of times and enjoyed the exhibits. You can pick up the free water taxi at both the museum and station and its a nice thing to do and wasn’t busy even though it was a weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I went to Leeds a few months ago to go to the theatre, and before the show wandering around the city centre admiring all the beautiful and ornate little arcades, but never went anywhere near the waterfront. Looks like I missed out! Maybe next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Leave it to Miss Traveller to discover the water taxi. An excellent bit of travel savvy. I took a quick look to see if I could discover the etymology of “The Calls,” but came up with nothing. I realize it’s a street and a lane, but one wonders about what the word originally signified. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I always enjoy your write-ups and Leeds is no exception. You have a straightforward style that is underscored by your photos, giving the reader a realistic view of the destination. You have now convinced me to make time for Leeds on my next visit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Graham

        I once heard a rather cynical view, on the news of all places, that the modern apartments which dominate that area along the river were the “slums of tomorrow”. Hopefully it remains somewhere to attract visitors instead. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  20. This was a lovely trip down memory lane for me! The area surrounding the river changed a lot over the course of my time in Leeds, and the Royal Armouries was one of my favourite museums. I never got round to travelling on one of the water taxis – one day, hopefully!

    Liked by 1 person

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