Posted in ALL BLOGS, Travel & Days Out

Kirkstall Abbey – A free day out in Leeds any time of the year, surrounded by beauty, history and fun for all ages and abilities.

Looking for a free day out in Leeds?

‘Kirkstall Abbey’ is a day trip full of history, beauty and fun for all ages and abilities – any time of the year!

A cool place to visit while in Leeds is a place called ‘Kirkstall Abbey’ – so cool in fact I visited twice in the space of four months! It is easy to get to, being three miles from the City Centre of Leeds, off the A65.

Kirkstall Abbey is a Cistercian Monastery founded in 1152 and one of the best-preserved monasteries in England.

Review of Kirkstall Abbey. A free day out for all the family in Leeds
Where’s Wally in the picture? aka Me, as I’m a silly Wally who loves posing for pics  & I have a Where’s Wally striped top on 😉

Visiting Kirkstall Abbey is a chance to go back in time and learn about how these Catholic Monks built the Abbey and how they used to live at that time in history.

The ruins are fascinating and striking in structural beauty with its archways and impressive height. Walking around the Abbey grounds looking over the River Aire is beautiful and full of natural beauty and wildlife to spot.

Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, a beauty spot full of history - review by Helen's Journey Blog
The ruins really are magnificent to visit – its beauty to be admired by adults and its magnitude to be admired by children.

My brother and his wife live in Leeds and this year also saw the arrival of their first child and my first Niece. So, while visiting Leeds in April, we visited Kirkstall Abbey on a cold and rainy early spring day. Then on returning to Leeds to visit them again in August, I got to visit the Abbey once again, but in the glorious summer sunshine.

This is an impressive and fun day whatever the weather, but the warmer weather made walking around the Abbey easier as we didn’t have to avoid puddles of rainwater (which if you put your child in Wellington boots and waterproof coats, could be a great part of this day out in wetter weather.)

COOL FACT via Wiki: On 10 and 11 September 2011 the Kaiser Chiefs played two concerts at Kirkstall Abbey to a maximum audience of 10,000 on each day.

When arriving, there is a free car park on the opposite side of the road to the Abbey ruins. Walking out of the car park and crossing over at the traffic light crossing, you come to the old Abbey Gatehouse building, that has now been refurbished into the ‘Abbey House Museum’ and Gatehouse Café building with a book and gift shop. They are also surrounded by beautiful gardens you can explore and walk around the pretty flowerbeds.

The cafe is really cute and I’m happy to say they offered gluten-free choices too – yay! I had an egg mayonnaise gluten-free roll, which was yummy. However, I was torn between having a gluten-free brownie and a piece of gluten-free lemon drizzle cake – so I gave in to living freely and had them both! 😂 Washed down with a hot chocolate to warm me up when we visited in the colder weather.

egg mayonnaise gluten free roll in Kirkstall Abbey visitor centre café. read the full review of this free day out in Leeds by Helen's Journey Bloggluten free cakes in Kirkstall Abbey visitor centre cafe. read the full review of this free day out in Leeds by Helen's Journey Blog

Handy Hint: There is usually an ice-cream van in the car park too. So if you go on a Monday when the café & Museum building is shut, like we did once 🙈 you can still get a tasty treat 😉🍦

Also in the car park area, there is a children’s playground at the far end of the car park with lots of children’s equipment and activities such as a finger maze and a character cut out of a monk you can take it in turns to be the face of. Of course, being the silly character I am, I had to have a go with the kids – see photo below:

Monk Helen at Kirkstall Abbey historical site, a free day out in Leeds. Read the review by Helen's Journey Blog
Monk Helen

Other facilities include:

  • Picnic area
  • grounds for picnic blankets
  • wide grassed areas for children to play (my nephew played catch with his Dad & it was a great big space for him to practice throwing further distances)
  • Baby change facilities in the Visitor Centre (my Sister-in-law also breastfed my Niece in the café with a friendly and accepting atmosphere)
  • Toilets including disabled toilet facilities

Although the Abbey, café, book shop & park are all free – there is a small charge for access to the ‘Abbey House Museum’ where you can learn all about Abbey life in more detail.

Museum prices:

  • Adults – £4.95, Concessions £4.00
  • Child – £2.50 – Children under 5 years – free.
  • Family – £10.50
  • Groups – £4.00

Visiting Kirkstall Abbey if you have disabilities:

This visitor attraction is disability friendly, whether it is wheelchair or pushchair access or hearing loops that are available. Wheelchairs can even be booked through the visitor centre prior to your visit. Assistance dogs are welcomed too –  water bowls for dogs can be found by the Museum entrance. It is those little caring touches that let you know this heritage site tries to make this piece of history available to all!

The car park has disabled parking. Then when going from the car park its flat ground over to the museum and café which has an automatic wide doorway suitable for wheelchairs and double pushchairs. From there, there is a ramp downhill to the pedestrian crossing over the main dual carriageway towards the Abbey (see photograph below).

Review of Kirkstall Abbey disabled access. A free day out in Leeds with wheelchair access
Stairs to the right and ramp to the right – both leading to the pedestrian crossing leading over to the Abbey Ruins. Although I was walking I used the ramp with handrail which suited my mobility restrictions far more than steps.

Around the Abbey itself, there are smooth pathways all the way around the ruins for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There are benches along the side of the Abbey walkways and along the river bank too, so Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome definitely didn’t make this day impossible for me. Don’t get me wrong, the Abbey is big in size so it’s a fair walk around it all, but there are benches at numerous points along the walkway to take advantage of and break up the walking for you.

When going over to see the River, there are benches alongside the river bank lookout points where we sat to look out over the water and watched the natural wildlife all around. So taking rests as you go along is done with pretty views and a chance to take in the atmosphere of your surroundings.

Kirkstall Abbey is located along the River Aire in Leeds, Yorkshire. read the review of this free day out for all the family and for all abilities.
Kirkstall Abbey is located along the River Aire – Look out for the signs with pictures of different birds to look out for…

HANDY HINT: like most places, I took my cushion with me, so I used this when sitting on the hand benches and also for my chair in the café too.

Kirkstall Abbey is a local love in Leeds:

This is a heritage site that the locals have a great love for and they all work together to look out for the area – including arranging litter picking days along the riverbank etc. Locals have their own website ‘Kirkstall Online’ where they share event information and a magazine called ‘Kirkstall Matters‘ and have recently published their 120th issue!

Kirkstall Abbey Market is also held among the ruins, one weekend each month selling local Yorkshire produce and crafts. You can find more about the Market & a list of dates, by clicking HERE.

Here are some more photos from my visits during the two different climates, for you to enjoy:

visiting Kirkstall Abbey ruins on a wet Spring Day in April. beautiful and historical fun for all ages at this free day out in Leeds, Yorkshire. Read the full review by Helen's Journey Blog
April Showers at this beautiful, historic site for all ages and abilities.
Rock climbing at Kirkstall Abbey historical site, a free day out in Leeds. Read the review by Helen's Journey Blog
If the kids or any of the adults get bored with the smooth pathway around the ruins, there is also a rock wall on one side of the Abbey that the 6-year-old and 40-year-old in our group both enjoyed exploring.
Review of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK. A free day out for all ages and abilities
Helen’s Journey Photography – Exploring England collection

I will be sharing more of my pictures of this great day out, over on my INSTAGRAM: @helens_journey

Did you notice in April’s photos I had long hair & in August’s photos I have short hair? That’s because in between I donated 12 INCHES of my hair to charity to be made into a wig for a child with cancer hair loss. Please click on my blog posts below to read all about this wonderful, humbling experience:

  1. What I’ve learnt from 3 years of growing my hair for charity, to make a wig for a child with cancer
  2. My Creative spin on the ‘Fresh Prince’ theme tune to express my feelings along the journey of growing my hair & donating it to charity (guaranteed laughs reading this one!)

Looking for more to do in the Leeds area? Read all about my trip to Otley Chevin by clicking HERE!

⭐ Can’t get out and about due to chronic pain or other reasons or just want some entertainment? Then why not travel virtually – read my blog post The ULTIMATE Guide to using online ‘Virtual Tours’ to visit Famous Places, Landmarks and Tourist Attractions! An EPIC list of links to take you all over the World!

⭐ To read my blog post reviews about other places I have visited in person around the world, click HERE for my ‘TRAVEL & DAYS OUT’ section of the blog

Enjoy reading my posts and poems? 

Then don’t miss out when new stuff is posted –Please click here to join my Email Mailing List to receive an email notification when a new blog is posted!


(Click on names to open up each profile):

Facebook Page / Bloglovin / Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest / YouTube /  Tumblr

Facebook Fibromyalgia & Chronic Illness Awareness & Support Group

Email Mailing List


Blog: Twitter: @helens_journey Instagram: @helens_journey Google+ Pinterest: Bloglovin:

24 thoughts on “Kirkstall Abbey – A free day out in Leeds any time of the year, surrounded by beauty, history and fun for all ages and abilities.

  1. Great post! I only live a few miles away from Kirkstall Abbey, and it is a great place to visit for all the reasons that you say. May have to pay a visit with my 2 year old!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For sure, esp being so close. It’s a longer drive Birmingham to Leeds, but when there it’s become a favourite for a day out with our family, the youngest being a few months old 😉💞✨
      I hope your 2 year old has a great day 👌


  2. This makes really interesting reading, Helen and brought back good memories. The wildlife (e.g. kingfisher, otters, ducks) on the river is also worth a mention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks I really enjoyed playing around with my phone camera there like a photoshoot with a still model 😂
      That’s fab, defo one 1 to add on the travel bucket list 🙌 let me know if you ever make it there too… X


    1. That’s great, so glad my review let you see what a fun day out for all it will be.
      Sure the kids will enjoy taking a where’s Wally pic too so they can see how giant the monastery is with them standing at the bottom! 👌
      Let me know if you make it there. X

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a good review 🙂 I love it. Do you avoid gluten to help your fibro? I do 🙂 I was definitely sold by the gluten free roll … and then double sold by the TWO cake options. Also I love history. Great recommendation. Thank you for taking the time to put this together 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I went wheat-free a year before I got Fibromyalgia as it was irritating IBS & they said may play a role in achronic Fatigue Sydromme for me too. Then once diagnosed with Fibromyalgia the rheumatologist said for me to be gluten-free as it can aid muscle aches.
      It’s got so much easier now a days though compared to 13years ago for sure, in supermarkets & restaurants too – as this cafe proved 👌😋 lol.

      So glad you enjoyed the review & it sold the place to you too 🙌❣️ x


    1. Oh that’s fab, can make a whole day out of it too. We took a ball & some of the family played on the surrounding grass area while others strolled down the river bed. So lots to keep you entertained for the whole day. Some people had picnic blankets on the grass and had a picnic lunch too. So many options… Please let time know if you go along & if agree with my review 🙌👌


  4. It looks gorgeous and like a great day out! Wonderful that it’s so accessible, too. I live in the foothills of a mountain range in the US, so it’s difficult to find things to do close by, especially historical or outdoor, eith my particular challenges of late. I love reading stuff like this so I can live vicariously. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like a wonderful visit, and it’s good to hear the heritage site is made accessible for disabilities. Gorgeous photo of the river! How are you liking short hair now, do you find it refreshing? You did a great thing with donating your tresses. This post has made me want to go visit somewhere like this now, and actually I’ve never been anywhere near Leeds as it’s quite a distance so maybe I can add that to my list of things to do at some point! Great post 🙂
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Caz, yeah it was a really cool day out, defo add it to the list. But could always search online for something a little closer to home & accessible if travel more of an issue sometimes.

      Thank you Hun – I’m loving short hair life, esp in the heat we’ve had for sure! Nice to have a cool breeze on my neck haha x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Fatimah, yes if you’re close I’d defo put it on your ‘to visit’ list. I’m like that as there are things closer to home for me I still haven’t done yet myself 🙈
      But it gives us lots of adventures still to come… 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s