Today we are in north Leeds and into a wood, known locally as Adel Woods, but also goes by the name of Scotland Woods.
It’s on the very edge of Leeds surrounded on its southern and eastern flanks by the outer ring road and residential housing. The other sides edge onto farmland and woodland. The Meanwood Valley Trail meanders its way through here, from its beginning at Woodhouse Moor, in central Leeds to Golden Acre Park further north.
There’s a small dirt car park where we started today’s walk. The Dog was very excited as its Squirrel Season and she shot off to startle wildlife. She’s not exactly stealth and the squirrels are usually high up in the tree, peering down with a sneering “loser!”, before she even reaches its base.
We wander through the trees, coming across relics of a long lost industrial past – stone gate posts, mill ponds and foundations.
Its amazing to think that there was a huge flax mill here, built to make use of the water course. It was built in 1785 and went through a chequered history, before burning down for a second time in 1906, never to be rebuilt. Now there’s nothing but trees, the odd stones sticking out of the ground. You have to really look for clues. It’s sad that the mill has gone, but heartening that nature can take back our destructiveness and bury it without a trace.
We come across the Seven Arches aqueduct that runs through the woods. You suddenly come across it. It was built to ferry water from Eccup Reservoir, a few miles north, into Leeds. It’s a beautiful structure, lost in the middle of the woods. I think it has been threatened with demolition in the past, but has been saved. It’s just amazing.
The seven arch aqueduct was built in 1837 and carried water from Eccup Reservoir along a 6 mile route of Underground pipes and tunnels to the city of Leeds. In Adel woods it crosses the Meanwood Beck where the seven arch aqueduct was built. The aqueduct became redundant after 24 years when it could no longer cope with the Cities demand. The aqueduct still stands and each arch spans 34 feet.
We wander back to the car and stop at the Slabbering Baby, a small water fountain. Nearby there was a series of ramshackle wooden buildings that formed Verity’s Tea Rooms, run by the formidable Frances Verity from 1901 to 1953. After her death, it fell into disrepair and demolished, overtaken by the encroaching undergrowth. There are information boards here explaining everything and The Friends of Adel Woods has a great little website.
The picture above shows the Slabbering Baby on the left and where the cafe and associated buildings once stood. It’s completely disappeared under the undergrowth.
Adel Woods is full of paths and trails, but there is a circular walk, down one side of the beck until the ring road where you cross the beck and wander back up the other side. It’s not particularly well signposted, but new signs are going up (by the Friends I presume). A fascinating little place, full of history and ancient relics.