Roundhay Park Leeds UK – Treat to watch Meerkat

Due to my work requirement, I need to stay in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK and I were the bit worried about the place as I came to know it is a bit smaller than some of the major cities of UK.
However, my company arranged a house for me which was situated just in front of the Roundhay Park. You open your eyes and you will see miles long park in front of your window. Everywhere it is green like a carpet and birds are chirping. I can’t express in words what a feeling it was when you use to live in Bangalore with all sounds and noise.

North Leeds cricket club is in front of my window so no need to go anywhere to watch local matches when you can easily watch from your garden or window as electronic scorecard is visible easily.
Anyway, here I am writing about the biggest park I have seen named Roundhay Park,

Roundhay Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. It has over 700 acres (2.8 km) of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens which are owned by Leeds City Council. The park is one of the most popular attractions in Leeds, nearly a million people visit each year. It is situated on the north-east edge of the city, bordered by the suburb of Roundhay to the west and Oakwood to the south.

I have visited this park numbers of times in morning afternoon and evening and even after dark as well and every time I discovered a whole new area of Garden. I can write several pages with images on this park and beautiful varieties of flowers, gardens, paths and green carpet but it is better to cover main and major attractions.

It is walkable from my place however you can catch Bus no 12 from City centre of Leeds and it will take approx 30 minutes.

In 1871 Roundhay park was put up for sale by the then owners and was purchased for £139,000 by a group including the Mayor of Leeds John Barran, then purchased by Leeds City Council for the same sum, and given to the people of Leeds as a Park. At the time Roundhay was over 3 miles (4.8 km) away from Leeds and the council was unable to purchase such a large tract of land without an Act of Parliament, which was obtained on 21 June 1871. George Corson, a major Leeds architect, won the competition for the landscaping of the park. Other parts of the Park were sold as building plots which helped to reimburse the council and Barran for their outlay. Prince Arthur officially re-opened the park as a public estate in 1872 in front of 100,000 people. In 1891 the first public electric tram with overhead power (trolley system) in Britain was inaugurated, linking the city centre with Roundhay Park. The tram terminus is now a car park, but some of the trolley poles are still there.

Places to visit:
Tropical World

Tropical World Entrance

In the Butterfly House, Tropical World

watching fishes

Passing the last few tanks of the Aquarium look out for the Arowana. These fish will eat anything! They have been known to leap up to 8 feet from rivers to catch small birds and insects flying above! The fierce-looking barbs act as antennae.

A set of glasshouses with areas representing different climates from around the world, with the largest collection of tropical plants in the UK. It includes a butterfly house and aquariums. There are many birds and some reptiles living free inside, and many other animals in enclosures. A nocturnal house has creatures such as bats who are active at night. Tropical World is within the Canal Gardens and separated by Street Lane from the main area of the park.

Between 30 and 40 varieties of butterfly may be seen here in within this mature environment of flowering exotic plants and Citrus trees. The types of butterfly change regularly so there’s always something new to spot. Some of the specimens are bred here from pupae, which is also displayed. Small bridges span the ponds were more of the fish collection, Egyptian Firemouths, Pangasius Sutchi (which usually grow to 3 – 4 inches but here can be seen up to 2 feet long) and Giant Gourami (Osphronemus Goramy) dart about playfully. Also here you will find Koi Carp, 5 spot Cyclids, Tilapias, Mud Turtles, Soft Belly Turtles, Collared Teals, Cinnamon Teals and Leafcutter Ants.

In the Desert House, Tropical World

watching birds

Part of the Jungle, Tropical World


It has a special enclosure for Meerkat (the famous character from Lion King – Timon) which are not visible easily and species are going to extinct.

The largest fish in Tropical World lives here, the Niger Catfish (Pseudoras Niger) from South America.

The largest fish in Tropical World lives here, the Niger Catfish (Pseudoras Niger) from South America. Also to be seen are Pacus, which are related to Piranha, Tiger-skinned Shovel-nosed Catfish, Red-tailed Catfish and even a Giraffe Fish! Once a week this tank is cleaned from the inside by a keeper in his wetsuit, what a brave man!

Creature Corner

Lizards, Spiny Mice and snakes, yes – plus Tortoises and the Boss Monitor. The Water Dragon and Degus stare back at the visitor undaunted by all the attention.Lizards, Spiny Mice and snakes, yes – plus Tortoises and the Boss Monitor. The Water Dragon and Degus stare back at the visitor undaunted by all the attention. See if you can count how many ring markings the tortoises have on their shells, this is how you can tell their age. Keepers believe that ‘George’ is one of the oldest tortoises in Britain at some

Canal Gardens

Part of Canal Gardens, Roundhay Park, Leeds

There are three main parts to this. Firstly a grassed area of mature trees (which are decorated with lights around Christmas). Secondly, flower gardens along a rectangular lake with arches so that it resembles (but is not actually) part of a canal, hence the name, dating from 1833. Thirdly, a walled garden (built c. 1816, originally a vegetable garden for the Mansion House) which contains a major collection of roses, and provides the entrance to Tropical World. The Canal Gardens are to the west of the main area of the park, separated from it by Prince’s Avenue.
Monet Garden

Monet Garden, Roundhay Park, Leeds
This is a path leading to the Alhambra garden, homage to Claude Monet’s painting of his garden path at Govern. It leads north from Mansion Lane, to the north of the main area of the park.

Alhambra Garden, Roundhay Park, Leeds

Alhambra Garden

This is an area with a central rectangular pond with fountains, inspired by a similar water feature at the Genera life in the Alhambra in Spain. It is to the north of Mansion Lane, north of the main area of the park.

Soldiers’ Field
So called because it was the gathering place for troops in the First World War. Huge playing fields next to the park which has hosted many large-scale annual events such as Leeds Mela, and the Love Parade. Aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn conducted test flights of his aircraft in 1909 and in 1919 established a small airport here, with flights to London and Amsterdam.

The Arena with Hill

Arena with Hill View

Arena with Hill View

Thomas Nicholson had planned to make the third lake in a hollow which is now the Arena but had died before doing so. In 1894, it was converted into a sports arena with the cycle track, providing work for unemployed people in Leeds. It is overlooked by a mound known as Hill 60, which was so named to commemorate Leeds soldiers who died in First World War battles around Hill 60 near Ypres. It can hold over 100,000 people.
This was the location of very large concerts by The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Level 42, Genesis, Robbie Williams & U2, famously in 1997 with Cast as support.
In Summer it is used as a cricket pitch.

Apart from all above it has a kids park for small children where kids can enjoy climbing, sliding, merry go round and other rides as well.

kids park


upper lake

A folly built in 1812 by local master builder George Nettleton to give the appearance of a castle gate. It originally had a wooden roof and an upper room and was used as a summerhouse, a sewing room for the Nicholson girls, and for social functions such as dinners.


Upper Lake
The smaller of the two lakes, featuring impressive fountains, an island and a waterfall that leads down to Waterloo lake via a ravine. It is five acres in extent, but only 3 to 4 feet deep. The Upper Lake is on the much higher ground then Waterloo Lake. The Lake was once abundant with White-Clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) but soon started to die out, Crayfish were reintroduced and can now once again be found in the upper lake.

Upper Lake

Upper Lake

Waterloo Lake

Waterloo Lake from the dam at the South end

Constructed by soldiers who had returned from the Napoleonic wars and thus named after the Battle of Waterloo They were unemployed, so Thomas Nicholson provided work and income to landscape a former quarry. It took two years to build, has an average depth of 60 feet (18 m) deep and covers 33 acres (0.13 km2). It was originally used for boating, and for a period there were trips around it in a steamboat called the Maid of Athens (which was sunk in the lake at the end of its useful life). In 1900 this was replaced by an electric launch, the Mary Gordon, which operated until 1923. A cafe was constructed above the boathouse. The lake is now used for fishing, but not boating. The lower part ends in a dam which was once a waterfall but is now a steep grassy bank.

Mansion house and Visitor Centre, Mansion House

Visitor Center Mansion House

The Mansion House is a large stone two- and three-storey house in Greek Revival style with a view over the Upper Lake, built from 1811 to 1826. It was built for Thomas Nicholson and his wife Elizabeth, who took up residence in 1816. It had three carriage houses and stabling for 17 horses. It was bought by the City of Leeds in 1871, and the sale document noted that the principal rooms on the ground floor were 13 feet high, and on the first floor were 17 bedrooms and 2 water-closets.[2] It was leased out by the Council as a hotel and restaurant, is` a popular place for weddings, receptions and dances until its closure in 2004 for renovation, with a view to conversion into Council offices. This caused some controversy and opposition. In November 2007 the rear wings of the building were opened again after a £8 million refurbishment as an Education and Visitor Centre and offices for park staff. In August 2009 Leeds based Dine catering reopened the cafe and function rooms.


  • Ram Dhall says:

    Good to see you back after a fairly long interval.

    Thank you for taking us on a well researched and beautifully written virtual tour of Roundhay Park, Leeds. The supporting pictures are self explicit.

    In my opinion, little larger size of some of the pictures would have given a better effect.

  • Thanks for introducing roundhay park to fellow ghumakkars. Beautiful pictures and I also like the information about the fish Arowana.

    And if you are still in Leeds, enjoy your stay to the fullest :-)

  • Vidya says:

    Hey Vivek,
    Good one! I was suprised to see so much info about the Park. I have lived in Leeds for 2 yrs now. Surely is a motivation for me to make my way there. :)

    And if you are still in Leeds, let me know if you need any help. Its not at all scary, infact I would say its one of the safest city in UK

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome back Vivek. As Ram noted, its been after a long time and what a great story to make a comeback :-), esp for folks who are being baked in Indian capital.

    The very thought of such a large green body is a WOW experience. To imagine that its so accessible to you, just round the corner, makes me feel jealous :-)

    Look fwd to read about more gems from Leeds and UK.

  • Jyoti says:

    Very beautifully done. I was in Leeds, but shifted back to Mumbai. Missing everything about Leeds

  • Kyafet Oyunu says:

    Thanks you for that great article. Waiting for more. See you later.

  • Sevgi says:

    that is article beatufil and good.. pictures very very good :)

  • kevin says:

    Yes nice pics…I used to work on the park for many years {12 in total}…there is much to see and do a lot more than the average tourist would ever know of.
    So we will start here…….

    High up in the woods on the right hand side of Waterloo lake there are the old remnants of an old quarry there and is now used mainly by{ people having picnics/drinkers/camping over night/and so forth.

    King fishers can be spotted at the opposite end to the dam at the far end of the lake where the small wooden bridge is and on the right as you are walking over the bridge is if you are lucky enough you will see them.

    Where the Lakeside Cafe is and walking down towards the black gates onto Wetherby Road and on the right where the woods are… in there is a worn path where you will see all manner of …wildlife/Flowers…Orchids/and so forth…

    At the top end of the park near to the small lake… is a very old track that will lead you to an open area where we used to tip and compost our clippings from our days work..and in this {secret area} you can see if you are lucky enough to spot some of the wild golden rabbits a rare sight to see indeed…but of course you first need to find this path which I know you wont be able to.

    On we shall go and this time towards the Mansion which can be seen from the small lake.
    In front of the Mansion is what is known as “the Mansion Lawn” under this lawn is a secret tunnel posting back to world I/II…this tunnel was in place at the time as an escape route {bombings etc} from where it leads down towards the small lake and often used to store food in case a lengthy stay was needed and the opening to the end of the tunnel is visible to this day… find it if you can!

    Well I could go all day regarding Roundhay Park and its hidden secrets its such a wonderful place and lets not forget a mysterious place to explore{if you know where to explore that is}

    Please dont hesitate to contact me and maybe arrange a meeting on the park where there is much more to see.

    Many thanks


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