Nestled on the eastern side of the River Aire sits the north-western suburb of Kirkstall. As I am reliably informed by Wikipedia, the name Kirkstall comes from the Old Norse kirkja (‘church’) and the Old English stall (‘place’) and means ‘site of a church’.
This is not so surprising as what defines the suburb are the beautiful ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, founded by Cistercian monks as far back in time as the 12th century. It is helpfully situated an exact 200 miles from both London and Edinburgh.
It’s well worth a walk around the beautiful ruins, admission is free and it is easily reached from the city centre by the 33, 34 and 757 buses. Not only can you wonder at the amazing architecture of the ruins, you can also expand your mind, no matter what age you may be. You can get messy with your under 5s very Wednesday from 10-11am during the summer holidays, and get involved with dragon themed crafts and activities.
It is definitely worth keeping an eye out for the Kirkstall Abbey outdoor deli market which runs from March until the last weekend in November. There are over 40 stalls to peruse, chock full of hand-made items and a great range of products from across Yorkshire.
Should you have left your picnic at home, you could choose to eat at The Gatehouse, situated opposite the abbey and set in beautiful gardens overlooking the courtyards. The summer sandwich range they offer is accompanied by chips and a bowl of house soup or a house salad – all at the bargain price for £5.
If a wholly vegetarian café is more your thing, Mog’s is the place for you. During summer months the café is open Thursday and Friday 5-10pm and Saturday and Sunday 12-10pm. The £5 ice cream doughnut and frappe deal is an absolute perfect deal for after a summer stroll around the abbey.
You may have missed out on the Kirkstall Festival for this year, but do set the date in your diary for next year when it will take place on Saturday 11th July, 2020 from 11am – 5pm.You can expect upwards of 160 stalls, food, drink, comedy, music, a fairground – you name it! You are even offered free drinking water if you bring your own reusable cup – now you can’t say fairer than that.
If you would like to get involved with keeping Kirkstall beautiful, look no further than Kirkstall Clean up which began as a community effort to clean up the rivers in the suburb after the Boxing Day floods in 2015. The clean ups continue to flourish and are supported by Open Source Arts!
Should growing and sharing food be more your thing, then there is no better way to start than getting in touch with Incredible Edible. These guys are a not-for-profit, community led group that aims to promote a pro-social sustainable and healthy lifestyle. This is done by supporting the creation of edible growing facilities, sharing skills and encouraging people to grow and share food with their neighbours.
If historic buildings, growing your own food and community clean-ups don’t do it for you than how about The Arcade Club where you can experience Virtual Reality with all of the lastest hardware and games? And that’s just Floor Two, on Floor Three you can experience the wonders of the Classic Arcade and treat yourself (or educate your offspring) about three decades of arcade history.
If you’re stuck for something to do in Leeds this weekend, do give Kirkstall a try – it has so much to offer and there truly is something for all ages to enjoy.