With my Brother, Sister-In-Law & 1 year old Niece living in Leeds, Yorkshire has quickly become a school holiday and weekend visit destination for me and my family. Last Easter break and This year’s Easter break, just like last years Easter break, was no exception as my huge family group of 14 descended on the area once again.
The place I’m reviewing in this post is an area called ‘Ottley Chevin‘ within the Chevin Forest Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
The History of the 32 foot ‘Chevin Cross’ Easter Instillation:
I visited Otley Chevin last year in the cold and wet of Spring and then visited again this year in the glorious Spring sunshine. The thing that attracted us there at this particular time of the year was the ‘Chevin Cross’ which is a huge cross instillation erected each Easter by the group of local churches coming together to support this Church community initiative. When I say huge, I mean huge, as it is 32 feet high! So no wonder it is a must see Easter attraction for visitors near and far. It almost has a feel about it like the ‘North Star’ being followed by shepherds in the Christmas Story, but maybe that is just my creative imagination 😉
Even though this is a tradition that started in 1968 it isn’t the original cross that is still in use today. The latest cross being used was made in 2000 by a local craftsman and the sign on the cross explains it “is made from wood salvaged from the Manchester bomb outrage on 15th June 1996.” I took a guess that it was an IRA bomb, but we used google to confirm and it was when the IRA bombed the Manchester’s Arndale Centre in 1996.
The ‘Churches Together in Otley’ group who started & continue to erect the Chevin Cross each year, go on to say in the sign that “It is a sign that good can triumph over evil as Jesus conquered death and promises us everlasting life.” I have to agree, looking up at that mighty cross was a beautiful representation of God’s promise to believers for bringing something good out of bad.
If you carry on walking along the path after it goes behind the cross, you come to an historical site called ‘Jenny’s Cottage’ that is the preserved foundations to what used to be a cafe up until the 1970’s. For the more active there are big rocks past the foundations that you can go climbing on, my 6 year old nephew loved doing this bit.
Disability Access & Support when visiting the area of Otley:
Upon reading the information board it informs you of two different access points for wheelchairs and mobility scooters in Chevin Forest Park. As well as the option to hire mobility scooters between April and October, which can be used on two specific, suitable routes.
In the car park there are disabled parking bays at the part of the car park closest to the Chevin entrance, as well as a ramp for wheelchairs and pushchairs to access the Chevin land. There is a cleared path that leads up behind the cross and further on suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, scooters, etc. Bumps are at your own risk once you are off the path and on the land itself. Personally even with limited physical ability, I’d say give it a go, as I think it is worth it when you get there – even without the Cross instillation, the views are beautiful!
As Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome effects me doing physical activity, my deeper exploration of the ‘Chevin Forest Park’ ended there after seeing the Chevin Cross, Jenny’s Cottage, taking photos and reading the signs (and on last year visit my dad helped me climb up for a photo spot I couldn’t resist that you can see below…). However, the majority of our group aged between 6 to 68, carried on exploring using the Chevin Cross as their starting and end point to their 4 mile walk (which also included some more rock climbing and a go on a tree swing).
Yet despite not walking with the others, my enjoyment didn’t stop there, as it was such lovely weather this year an ice-cream van was on site selling Yorkshire ice-cream – which we all enjoyed as the vanilla was super creamy and the chocolate had nice chip-chop chips in too. They have the ice cream in tubs options for us gluten-free people, served in cardboard tubs and even more impressive was their wooden ice-cream spoons rather than plastic ones! *Top Points*
Across the road is a lovely country pub called‘The Royalty’ which catered for all of our huge group with a long table sitting all together and menus for our gluten-free and vegetarian family members too. I was so impressed that it has an extensive gluten free menu which gave me stars in my eyes just from reading all the scrummy things I could eat, let alone when I tasted the scrummy food itself!
Review of Otley Chevin:
This is a lovely day out for all ages and abilities and for all weathers too, as although it was more enjoyable in the sunshine, we still had great fun visiting in the cold too. You could really make a whole weekend of this visit as there are numerous walks along the beautiful Yorkshire dales all around this area that could keep you entertained for as long as you stayed or as long as your legs will take you! For those who aren’t walkers, not only is there the mentioned local pub across the road, but also the town of Otley seen far below the Otley Chevin hills is a lovely town to visit too, along with other cute neighbouring towns too.
This could also be made into a week long break or even longer with so many things to do in the Leeds and Yorkshire area. For example click to read my blog post: KIRKSTALL ABBEY – A FREE DAY OUT IN LEEDS ANY TIME OF THE YEAR, SURROUNDED BY BEAUTY, HISTORY AND FUN FOR ALL AGES AND ABILITIES.
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