One of the great things about living in Manchester is access to so many places. We recently jumped on the train to go for an urban wander in Leeds. Under an hour to get there and you have a whole different city to explore.
Not to mention the museums and art galleries too! We always manage to sneak in at least one on each visit.
An urban wander in Leeds
Although I love Manchester very much, there is nothing like a change of scenery and a new place to adventure. It’s nice to see other places and it feels like a mini holiday when you take the train too. Which is what we like to do when we visit Leeds. On Saturday (after a little bit of planning during the week) we headed to Piccadilly to grab a train to Leeds. We already had a table booked at a recommended veggie/vegan cafe so just had to take our breakfast picnic and flask for the journey.
One thing we regularly forget, though, is that Leeds is a very popular destination from Manchester so getting to the train early is recommended if you want a seat! We bagged one on a table, so were set for our picnic.
Exploring the streets
Although we have been to Leeds many a time, it doesn’t meant that we know it well. In fact, we’ve lived in Manchester for 16 years (on Friday) and we’re still constantly discovering new things. So we have lots of adventures left in Leeds yet. Anyhow! When we arrive in Leeds station we enjoy wandering around the local area and finding out that the Art Gallery is still closed for refurbishment. This seems to be one of our favourites! Then we will wander a bit and get our bearings again. Taking time to walk up new streets and enjoy what we find.
A fab discovery was this building that we spied down a side street on our way back from Emmaus.
When you look in the guide books for places you usually get the regular old museums, galleries and monuments etc. And if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I like to venture outside of the ordinary to discover the hidden sides of the places that I visit. We spotted the brightly coloured building on Templar Street on our way to the Roots and Fruits for lunch. Tempted by its vast size and interesting appearance we headed into explore.
Lyons Works is the remnants of the garment industry and was built in 1914! As you can tell, it has been a few things since it’s closure including China Town – which was a surprise! It was also home to one of the earliest production lines, yet now sits lonely in the midst of a car park. Anyway, it is these parts of cities and exploring that I enjoy the most. The bits that spark your curiosity and have you doing a bit of research as soon as you get home.
Although you can’t quite make it out in my pictures (partly due to the position of large vehicles in the car park) it holds the famous Einstein saying:
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, design for tomorrow”
I love how even discovering things has a nod to my concept of staying curious and exploring! Anyway, before I go off on a total tangent, let’s get back to our urban wandering in Leeds.
To the Grand Arcade
Leeds has a plethora of arcades. It is impressive how many they have and how many there are yet for a visitor like me to discover! Luckily, I have lovely friends in Leeds who hold a wealth of information to ensure I make the most of my visit and see even more new things! (Thanks, Georgia! Check out her new blog, it’s going to be great!) Because of Georgia, we made our way to the Grand Arcade. It is solely for independent businesses (which is a massive plus on my account) and home to Roots and Fruits veggie cafe. The destination of our lunchtime break. …yes, we do sometimes eat out!
The Grand Arcade is a stunning building with a good variety of shops, eateries and bars dotted around. There is pretty much choice for everyone – including veggies, vegans and gluten-free people. We enjoyed wandering around the small corridor inside as well as circling the outside which is equally as beautiful. And of course we enjoyed our delicious meal of vegan beanball sub with chips! (I’ll post about that another time!)
Feeling full from our lunch it was time to walk off some of the calories. So into the streets we returned. Lucky that the torrential rain did it’s thing while we were warm and dry indoors.
Wandering to the Armouries
When we head to visit a place we don’t like to be too strict on the itinerary as we ideally want to explore and see what it is like to really be there. However, we do sometimes come with a little bit of an agenda. Like having lunch, visiting a certain gallery or museum and seeing a certain thing/building/street art that we have heard about elsewhere. So our walk after lunch, although meandered was leading us to the Royal Amouries. Partly because I discovered that we could give cross-bow a try and to check out the exhibits.
This bit of street art was not on the list, but I loved it so much I had to ‘gram it!
From what I can tell, the work is piecing together the history of the area, but other than that I have no idea! Do you know the artist or anything more about this piece of lovely street art? Let me know if you do, please!
Cobbled streets and waterways
It is funny how even though northern cities can be so different, there are still places that bring familiarity. Perhaps it is the back streets that I frequent of the heritage that I follow that brings me to them, but whatever it is there are some similarities in most places. There is a nice element of the modern with the old in many of the Leeds streets though (something that seems to be slipping in the Land of Manc in some places, at least)
Between batches of rain and sunshine we successfully (i.e. not totally drenched) made our way to the museum. The last time we visited we were having a go at Thai Chi for the Chinese celebrations. This time it was all about the cross bow.
The Royal Armouries
I’m not going to tell you all about our fun in the armouries in this post as we’ll be here forever otherwise, and besides this is a post about urban wandering in Leeds. So yes, we explored the armouries and the exhibitions before having a go on the cross bows in the upper gallery – very fun and only £3! Feeling a bit gunned out after a few hours we decided that it was time to pound the streets again. Maybe with a quick pit stop at The Tetley, one of our favourtie art galleries.
Back to the streets
Without even realising it, I was collecting ideas for this weeks Photowalk Challenge. Well, I was coming up with the theme at least! (not checked it out yet? Click here and join in!) No matter how built up, industrial or urban an area is, there is always some nature pushing back though.
To make our way back to the station our urban wander around Leeds went from back streets and alleys to the bustling high street and shopping arcades. Although we aren’t really the kind to enjoy the shopping areas, for some reason they can be a curious place to be. People watching, listening to the sounds and taking in the atmosphere rather than concentrating on the shops. I enjoy that part, anyway.
The final wander
As our urban wandering in Leeds drew to a close and we made our way back to station, we had just enough time to swing by an arcade or two and through the market. I am always in awe of the arcades in Leeds, so well-preserved and looked after. This one (I forget the name right now, but will edit as soon as it comes!) was the home of Marks and Spencer would you believe? See the north was birthplace of lots of great names.
As we walked through the arcade, we started wondering what it would be like at Christmas, lights glowing and a festive feel to the space. Apart from the huge crowds of people, we pictured that it would be a lovely scene and right there and then decided that this would be there year that we visit the Christmas Markets in Leeds instead.
It was almost time for the train, so we decided to focus on getting to our destination rather than collecting streets! (it didn’t stop me from sharing the journey on my Instagram stories though!)
With time to spare we arrived back at the station where our urban wandering of Leeds began. Quieter than expected, except for the slightly squiffy ladies, we were able to pause to enjoy the artwork we spotted from the train on the way in.
End of a wander
And that was that. The end of our urban wandering in Leeds. Even though we visit regularly, we are always finding new places to wander, streets to explore and interesting things to pause over. Like with anywhere, you can always find something new when you are open to finding it.
Maybe you could give it a go today? Head out for a wander wherever you may be and see if you can find something new, a different street to walk down or some leaves to photograph for the #TUWPhotowalk Photowalk Challenge this week? Whatever you do, don’t stop being curious as that is when your world gets smaller!
Right, that’s it from me. I’m off to do some ticket and travel booking for our next big adventure and some for our small wanders too.
Enjoy your adventures today and I look forward to your pics over on Instagram!
When was the last time you went wandering? Where did you go? What did you discover?
Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂