From perfect parks to pop-up events…
Did you know? Otley was home to one of the first family-friendly venues in Leeds with the advent of what is now known as Tittybottle Park – named after the Victorian mothers and nannies who would nurse infants in a relaxed setting by the slow-running waters of the River Wharfe.
Fairs, Festivals and Theatre
Whenever you visit Otley, you are sure to find something for all the family enjoy thanks to our regular programme of events that take place throughout the year. Visit throughout the year for our regular science cafés co-founded by BBC One Show scientist and Otley Ambassador Marty Jopson, or one of the many events that take place in the Market Square from May to August. Annual events include a Maypole dance every May Day with the town’s two troupes of Morris Dancers, the Buttercross Belles and the Wharfedale Wayzgoose.
At the end of May there is the Otley Show, one of the oldest agricultural shows in the country, with all manner of stalls and a regular fair. The summer also sees the fabulous Otley Carnival with a colourful street parade passing through the town. In winter, Otley has more seasonal cheer than most when it transforms into Yorkshire’s Christmas Tree Town. Festivities start with the Christmas Lights Switch-On at the end of November, and each shop in Otley displays its own decorated tree proudly above its door. Early December also sees the town’s Christmas Tree Festival and the enchanting Victorian Fayre.
There is theatre too: arts centre Otley Courthouse hosts many children’s events during the school holidays and before Christmas.
Gallows Hill Nature Area
Otley’s popular Gallows Hill Nature Area is home to a variety of birds, insects and amphibians and has a car park and pushchair and wheelchair friendly path around it, including a riverside walk. Local group the Friends of Gallow’s Hill help maintain the site that was once a sewerage works until it was taken over by the council and turned into the wildly beautiful park it is today. The team have planted many trees in the park, including a community orchard with cherry, pair and apple trees. While strolling round, be sure to be as quiet as can be, you may come across a frog or a toad, or perhaps see a kingfisher flash over the pond. Regular family based activities are held here, listings can be found on the Gallow’s Hill site.
Wharfemeadows, one of the most well-known sights in Otley, lies alongside the River Wharfe and has beautiful gardens where you can take a leisurely walk, or just sit and watch the world – and the river – go by. For family groups there is nothing better than letting the children enjoy themselves at the extensive playground in a fun and safe environment, while enjoying an ice cream from the riverside cafe. For older children there are the added attractions of a skateboard park and the recently installed outdoor gym. Look over the river from the playground to see the two Archimedes screws generating green electricity from water flowing down next to the weir. This is the first hydroelectric scheme on the River Wharfe. (You can see and play with another Archimedes screw in the playground).
The Chevin makes for a great afternoon’s walking and exploring with rocks, streams, trees and wild life. There are many trails around it, including geocaching options, a geology trail, a heritage time trail and a route for tree spotters. Routes, paps, orienteering courses and a geology audio trail can all be downloaded from the Friends of Chevin Forest website. On many days, the White House cafe is open for refreshments and there are three mobility scooters available for free use between May and September. An extensive bridleway on the east side of Chevin provides for excellent horse riding and mountain biking on a loop that is some 6km long. While the Chevin is just an uphill walk or short drive from the town centre, it is well worth the effort thanks to the wonderful views over the Town from Surprise View… if you’re lucky, you’ll find the regular ice cream van parked near the summit!