Situated along the eastern side of the River Aire, just three miles from Leeds city centre, is the small suburb of Kirkstall. Famous for Kirkstall Abbey, there is a newly developed shopping centre and a multitude of restaurants. With a rich history, spacious homes, plenty of green spaces and a vibrant community, it is a popular area.
THINGS TO DO
Kirkstall Abbey is, perhaps, the most prominent attraction. The ruins of the monastery display quintessential medieval Cistercian architecture. Surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful wildlife, the grounds provide a serene atmosphere to learn about Leeds’ history, play and enjoy the outdoors. The Annual Kirkstall Festival, held on the abbey grounds, is a fun, family-friendly affair with music and local arts and crafts. Additionally, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which passes along the River Aire has extensive walkways and bicycle routes that provide stunning views of the cityscape.
EATING & DRINKING
Cafes, locally-owned shops and chain restaurants provide plenty of opportunities to taste traditional fare and flavours from around the world. The Indian-influenced Sheesh Mahal Restaurant, Viva Cuba restaurant and Nando’s Portuguese restaurant are among the favourites. The last weekend of every month (March-November), the Kirkstall Abbey and Kirkstall Deli markets take place on the abbey grounds and feature dozens of vendors. The area is also home to some great pubs, including the West End House and the award-winning Kirkstall Bridge.
Most of Kirkstall’s independent shops and businesses are situated along Kirkstall and Abbey road and include a library and leisure centre. The modern Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park, which opened in autumn of 2015, features an array of eateries and home and apparel shops. With places like JD Sports, Home Bargains, Smyths Toys, M&S Foodhall, Pets at Home and Costa, the centre is a truly a one-stop shop. The same area is home to Morrisons supermarket and Dunnes home goods store.
There are a number of excellent schools in Kirkstall and the surrounding area. Some of which include:
- Kirkstall Valley Primary School
- Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School
- Beecroft Primary School
- Kirkstall St. Stephen’s Church of England Primary School
- Burley Saint Matthias Church of England Primary School
- Abbey Grange Church of England Academy
Kirkstall is centrally located and pedestrian friendly. The A65 road runs along the suburb and links it to Leeds city centre, Yeadon, Guiseley and Ilkley, as well as national motorways. Several different bus routes connect Kirkstall to the centre and run regularly. There are two railway lines that run through Kirkstall (Bradford and Aire Valley), the nearest station is a few minutes’ walk to Headingley. The airport is about six miles from Kirkstall and is easily accessed via bus line 757.
In the 12th century Cistercian monks founded Kirkstall Abbey. By the 13th century, Kirkstall’s industry-driven economy was propelled by the monks’ development of Kirkstall Forge Engineering which specialised in iron forging and axles. Coal became the predominant industry in the 19th century and thrived until the late 1970s. Now, the suburb honours its past but is mainly used as a dormitory for city professionals.
DID YOU KNOW?
Kirkstall Abbey was founded in about 1152 and took over 75 years to construct.