Saturday 24 September 2011

It's Leeds, Jim, but not as we know it.

There's a lot to be said for 'City Break' weekends - especially when you visit a city as energetic and interesting as Leeds.

I have to admit that I have spent the last decade regarding the place as a necessary evil: more theatres than York; better shops than York; but horrendous traffic, worse parking and mile after mile of miserable urban sprawl.

And a boating friend says that 15 years ago he referred to the canal through Leeds as "Gunboat Alley" - he would run through it as fast as possible on his way to the beauty spots of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

But these days Leeds by boat is a pleasant surprise. The last few miles of the Aire & Calder are tree-lined and easy to navigate. Leeds itself is now marked by apartment blocks and waterside bars. Not a concrete jungle, and certainly not an intimidating or unnerving experience.

The reclamation of the industrial waterscape even stretches to some pleasant spots for overnight stops - Thwaite Mills Museum has been noted for a future stopover.

Once again we picked up some friends and went for a cruise, this time through the city centre as far as Armley Mills Museum, and then back to Clarence Dock and the Royal Armouries Museum.

There is more to do in Leeds than we can fit into one weekend. We're going to have to come back a few times.

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