Exploring Pudsey’s Past and Present

When I first thought about creating a travel blog, I have to say writing about…

When I first thought about creating a travel blog, I have to say writing about my hometown of Pudsey wasn’t very high up on my list of places to write about!

For anyone not from Leeds or the West Yorkshire area, when you hear the name Pudsey you probably think of Pudsey Bear… the yellow mascot of the charity Children in Need. But the famous bear is named after the hometown of his designer… an historic market town situated between Leeds and Bradford.

Although I’m not originally from Pudsey (having grown up on the wrong side of the Pennines according to the locals), I’ve lived here on and off for the last 10 years. And I’m ashamed to say that apart from the numerous pubs and bars in the town, I haven’t really explored it too much!

But with the coronavirus lockdown (parts 1, 2 and 3!) limiting travel opportunities, I’ve had to look closer to home for my adventures… and it’s definitely been one of the more pleasing parts of lockdown!

And while I’m not suggesting putting Pudsey to the top your bucket list of places to go before you die, if you’re local and looking for some new inspiration of somewhere to go, then I recommend checking some of these out…

Post Hill Nature Trail

Part of the West Leeds Country Park, Post Hill Nature trail is a designated Nature Area located between Pudsey and Farnley. As well as being a great place to walk, the site also has a pretty interesting history. It was used for motorcycle racing and climbing events from 1926, with Post Hill itself being said to be the steepest hill climb in the world at the time! And during WWII it was also used for a POW camp to house German and Italian soldiers who were put to work on the surrounding farms.

Today it offers a number of walking paths to follow… tracking Pudsey beck along the bottom of the valley and heading up high to the rocky outcrop to offer good views over Pudsey. It’s a pretty popular walking route so you’re sure to see some other ramblers and dog walkers out, and it’s a great place for a walk with an easy 2-mile track to follow, or can be combined into much longer walks following the footpaths to Black Carr Woods (see below) and other surrounding places.

Greenside Railway Tunnel & Old Railway Loop

In the late 19th and early 20th century Pudsey had a loop railway line running through it which eventually closed down in 1964. Although the stations and lines no longer exist, large parts of the old track bed can still be walked and have become my go-to walk during lockdown when I need to get out of the house after one too many days being cooped up inside!

The track bed runs from an entrance on Mount Pleasant Road to where the old Pudsey Greenside Station used to be, which is now occupied by warehouses. And although you’re walking through the middle of a town, it’s so quiet and peaceful it’s easy to imagine you’re miles away in some secluded woods or countryside.

Next to the old station is the opening to Greenside tunnel… you can’t get down to the tunnel entrance from this side, but a walk along Smalewell Road to the Fox and Grapes pub leads you to a footpath, which you can then follow down into the woods and to the opposite entrance. It’s fenced off (usually) so you can’t go into the tunnel, but you can peer through the fence and just about see the other end shining through the S-shaped tunnel.

Even though I couldn’t get into the tunnel when I went, it was still a cool place to explore. But it’s certainly more overgrown now than when it was in use and it can get pretty wet and boggy, so make sure you wear some appropriate boots!

Black Carr Woods

If you follow the footpath down the hill from the Greenside tunnel entrance, you enter Black Carr Woods. The woods cover a pretty big area and there’s lots of different paths you can take to go in different directions… the route I took was following Tyersal and Pudsey Beck to Fulneck Golf Club, and then back up the hill through the golf course to Fulneck and The Bankhouse Inn.

I did the walk just as Autumn was turning to Winter, with the yellow and browning leaves covering the paths and making for a very pretty setting (although again it was very wet and boggy in places!). And in the Spring and Summer there are a lot of flowers and colours to see in the woods… check back in a few months and I’ll post some updated photos!

Pudsey Park

In the centre of town is Pudsey Park, which if you search online, is claimed to be the second most popular park in Leeds behind Roundhay Park! I’m not entirely sure on the accuracy of that claim, but it does boast West Leeds Country Park Visitor Centre, a bowling green and a kids play area.

The visitor centre is home to a number of animals including birds, rabbits and fish, but as with most things is closed at the moment due to lockdown restrictions. I still managed to catch a glimpse of one of the rabbits hiding in his box though!

Fulneck Moravian Settlement

Perched on the edge of town and overlooking Pudsey Beck and the surrounding valley sits the village of Fulneck, a Moravian settlement dating back to 1744.

Although the village is small, it’s packed with historic buildings to admire… none more so than the Grade I Listed Chapel. There’s also a nice café and shop (when open).

It’s also been the birthplace to some quite prominent people… Sir Len Hutton, former England cricket captain and widely regarded as one of the best batsmen ever, and Benjamin La Trobe, the architect of the United States Capitol building and the porticoes on the White House no less!

Owlcotes Medieval Village and Wood Nook

Now this one might sound very grand and interesting, but before you get too excited thinking that there’s a deserted medieval village to explore on the outskirts of Pudsey, well, I couldn’t find so much as a plaque or trig point!

It still made for a good walk though… starting from the end of Owlcotes Lane I headed along the public footpath between the farmer’s fields, and soon reached a treed area which the map suggested was the site of the village. Hunting around through the snow I couldn’t find or see any sort of monument, so after a few minutes, gave up and headed off towards the adjoining woods instead.

On the opposite side of the ring-road and just next to Owlcotes Shopping Centre is Wood Nook, a surprisingly quiet and secluded place to explore considering its location in between the ring-road and Asda!

Pudsey Town Centre

I can’t really do a blog about Pudsey and not have a section about the town itself can I! As well as hosting a market every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, there is also a small produce and craft market which runs on the first Sunday of every month.  

Other than the market and the aforementioned pubs and bars you could be forgiven for thinking there’s not much else to see… a modern bus station dominates the town centre (which is not very popular amongst the locals!!), and there are an assortment of shops and cafes. However, there is some stunning architecture dating back to the late 19th century to see, as well as some beautiful churches.

If you are looking for a coffee shop for a great cup of coffee or a bagel or cake for breakfast or brunch, my personal favourite is Bean & Gone Espresso Bar in the town centre… the coffee is good, the bagels are delicious, and the cakes are amazing!

The town was looking particularly good on Remembrance weekend, with Pudsey Parish Church, the Cenotaph, and a local school decked out in poppies to commemorate those who have served in the armed forces and fallen in the line of duty.

Sunny Bank Mills

A couple of minutes’ away from Pudsey is the town of Farsley, and home to one of the coolest and most unique places in West Leeds… Sunny Bank Mills.

An old woollen mill dating back to 1829 which operated for 180 years until 2009, it is now a creative space and leisure hub home to an art gallery and shop, a coffee shop and a restaurant, and many small businesses and office space.

The art gallery and shop is a cool place to spend some time, with lots of original features from the mill still on display almost making it a museum too.

You can get drinks in the art gallery, or on the opposite side of the building is Mill Kitchen, a great place for breakfast, Grumpy’s which serves some of the best pizza I’ve had anywhere (including Italy!), and Saint Jude, a bar serving drinks and food until late.

Help Protect Green Spaces

If you enjoyed reading this blog then please support the local groups Greenside Greenway and Tong & Fulneck Valley Association in their opposition of the development of housing on Greenside Tunnel/Pudsey Railway Loop and Tong and Fulneck Valley where Black Carr Woods is located. Use the links above or both can be found on Facebook… thanks!

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