Back on the trail after a usefully scheduled weekend off, used by travelling to see my good friends in Calderdale, and for having an outing to Vocation & Co in Hebden Bridge for a sociable sharing of beer and tacos, feeling somewhat fortunate that we dropped this past weekend as neither day brought weather that would be considered usefully walkable, but entirely seasonably predictable as the cloud and rain descended. So back we go to Airedale, determined to put an end on my long distance travels away from home, still finding myself challenged by the train strikes that are still afflicting us thanks to the ongoing Northern Trains - RMT beef, not giving us trouble as we ride out to Skipton, but giving us a pretty fixed deadline for the other end of the day as we head out at 9.40am, feeling that we might be about to experience one of those days where all the day's best weather was misplaced in the early hours of the day, in the miles distant from where we are actually walking. So get going at a relative clip as we've a lot of miles to put down in 6 hours, setting off down Black Walk, behind Morrisons on the old Cattle Market site, over Eller Beck and getting our panoramic view over the town before meeting Craven Street and passing around Tesco on the site of the former railway goods yard as this leads us past the proudly terraced edge of the town and onto Keighley Road, passing Skipton's cottage hospital as we go. It'll be road walking for the bulk of the day, following main Airedale road for a fair chunk of it, passing out of the town under the bridge of the Grassington branch line and on into that odd little cluster of terraces around a former mill site, squeezed into the space between the Leeds & Liverpool canal and the railway line, before the way forward opens out somewhat and we run on past the Snaygill industrial estate, which extends all the way down to the A6131 - A629 junction, and the Rendezvous hotel, which fits its considerable bulk into a really rather small plot. We depart the main road by the Bay Horse Inn, joining the minor Skipton Road as it ascends over the canal by the Snaygill boatyard and on into the fields, which gives us view to the rising hills on the far side of Airedale, with Ramshaw, Fiddlers Hill and Gib Side rising most prominently as we pass the cottages clustered here to absorb the grand view. It looks like the day is taking a turn for the better as we rise over the lane's crest, which gets a confirmation as we meet the sunshine raining down from the south, an unseasonal wall of heat that makes for a feeling of being over-dressed for Autumn, and that gives the spirits a lift as Low Bradley reveals itself in the declivity between Skipton Moor and Farnhill Moor, passed by the major roads but not without its own suburban growth around a stone built and pretty ancient feeling heart.
|Skipton Panorama from Black Walk.|
|Out of Skipton on the road, by the Canal.|
|The Bay Horse, Snaygill.|
|Gib Side, Fiddlers Hill and Ramshaw.|
|Descending into Bradley.|
We descend into it, down to the Ings Lane corner by the village store and the Methodist chapel, observing the still enduring mill site in heart of the village, before following Lidgett Lane uphill, in seemingly the wrong direction before it twists around sharply past St Mary's church, taking us onto Main Street and into a rather idyllic group of cottages around the Slaters Arms, altogether another village to add the scrapbook of North Yorkshire's most desirable locations. The rise of Crag Lane beyond is beastly steep, illustrating why the A629 now settles in the lower portion of the valley, and it's as challenging for me as it is for the pair of lads out on their Saturday morning bike ride, but its ascent that's worth it as the views revealed back up Airedale are pretty grand, as a haze-shrouded Flasby Fell appears as we meet the southbound corner by Hamblethorpe house. High up on the valley side, and across the way from Cononley and Gib, the proximity of the moor to our east is felt without it being very visible, named after all three of the neighbouring villages so we ought to unify it under the name of Black Hill, and that all soon vanishes as we enter the trees of Farnhill Wood as it clings to the valley side with the road running through the shade of it, revealing that Autumn woods really are the best, passing a neatly secluded cottage within it as we pass. Emerge above High Farnhill, with Earl Crag forming the horizon to the south as we mix in with the cottages on the high lane above Farnhill Hall, descending to make contact with the first of many trails we blazed in Airedale earlier this year, pressing on through Farnhill proper as we join Main Street as it descends from above the canal, below the Grange Road corner and down among the terraces, small mills and chapel that feel squeezed in by the roadside before we arrive at the canalside. It's already been observed that the canal seem to supplant the road in this village, and that's still the feeling as we pass under the aqueduct and down into Kildwick, though where the boundary lies between the villages is uncertain, though this side may have fewer houses, it's a bit prettier and also has the church, St Andrew's, and the pub, the White Lion, on the corner of the old turnpike road, which we now follow down into the riverside meadows. Thence on, over the Aire, and the contemporary A629 to meet the very edge of Cross Hills, sticking to the side of the old Skipton Road as we progress through the industrial estate that's home to the Trawlerman fish restaurant and the John Deere agricultural equipment outlet before we get held up at the railway crossing, waiting for the 333 electric units to charge past in both directions, and where the absence of a station to serve the Cross Hills-Glusburn-Sutton in Craven conurbation can be deeply lamented.
|Ascending away from Bradley.|
|The level crossing at Cross Hills station (former).|
Another season will pass without us investigating it any further though, as we follow the lane past the antiques mart and the former Junction Inn on the corner of the A6068 to Colne and the East Lancs Valley, joining the B6265 and passing though the small patch of fields, which gives us a last look at the sharp profile of Earl Crag, that keep these villages distinctly separate from those in West Yorkshire, which we enter as cross over Eastburn Beck and pass the Five Landis works. The high south side of the valley, with Eastburn Crag atop it, looms over the eponymous village which feels a lot larger when encountering it on foot, and despite having passed through it on the Bradford Millennium Way in 2013, my memory has little recall of having been here before as we press on past the furniture mill, the Inn at Eastburn and the many ends of descending terraces before running inot the green space that keeps itself separate from Steeton. This gap is also home to Airedale General Hospital, the main facility that serves everywhere from Skipton down to Keighley, which hides well from a roadside view and even has pedestrian access tunnels to prevent bus passengers from having to access it via a fight with traffic, and as we press in into Steeton, passing the prominently placed Methodist chapel, we can feel close to home once again as Rombalds Moor looms large down the Aire Valley. This is another village built in stone that feels a lot larger when paced through on foot, and playing fields, the village hub and a number of terrace ends and townhouses in the country can be passed before we arrive in the corner that feels familiar, by St Stephen's church, the War Memorial gardens and the Goat's Head, though we won't be joining Station Road for a change, which feels odd as Steeton & Silsden station always gets a visit when I'm in this quarter. Pass out of Steeton, leaving its terraces, allotments and semis behind as the road settles into its passage down Airedale below the wooded sides of Hollins Bank and Hawk Cliff, getting a grand view of the natural amphitheatre in which Silsden sits as we go, with the western periphery of Rombalds Moor rising beyond, before taking a decisive shift southwards past Hawkcliff house and farm. The views from the low road are just as good as those from the higher road seen a year previously, possibly better as the weather today is significantly less bad, and the views across the river and to the moorland edge and its many woods remain grand as we move on, meeting the notable boundary marker that separates Steeton township from Keighley borough, and we're soon delving into the next town's outer edges as we meet houses old and very new that have come here to enjoy the view, and meet the Keighley RUFC ground, which makes up for its relative lack of local popularity with its dramatic location.
|Earl Crag, above Sutton in Craven.|
|The Inn, at Eastburn.|
|Bridge House, and company, Steeton.|
|How Green is the Aire Valley?|
|Keighley RUFC with its dramatic setting.|
We enter greater Keighley via Utley, with the view soon being obscured by the suburban Victorian terraces which grew out here around the tram terminus, or vice versa, and it feels like its getting a bit urban rather rapidly as pass the old Co-op store and the Roebuck Inn, where our third trail of the year out of (or into) Airedale is crossed, before we pass below the hall of St Mark's church and follow Skipton Road as it curves around the southern side of Utley cemetery. It's a large site, still the main one for the town which reaches down into the valley to the other side of the railway and to the edge of the A629, presenting its most Gothic and High Victorian face to the roadside that we pass, which shows up some nicely illuminated vistas though the foliage and over the monuments, before we pass the lodge house and meet another parade of suburban terraces, the ones around Arctic Street that we took a wander among the last time we came this way, as if we might see all of Utley's sights during this year. We next arrive below Cliffe Castle gardens, and depart Skipton Road at the roundabout as we join Hard Ings Road to make our passage through Keighley proper without entering the town centre, passing over the railway and across the roundabout of the A629 to meet the town's cricket ground, and Cougar Park, home to Keighley Cougars RLFC, which mostly hides its modest sub-8,000 capacity behind industrial units and a petrol station, though the slogan atop the main stand does tell us to 'Get Cougarised' and I'm sure that's advice we can all get behind. Our brief sojourn along Airedale's main road ends as we pass between Victoria Park and the rather disused looking bottled water plant, peeling off the A650-A629 to join the B6265 again as it passes out through the terraced district of Aireworth, noting the Stocksbridge Arms fish restaurant as we pass, which means lunchtime must be overdue as we press on to cross the Aire again and enter Riddlesden. The perspective on this village-suburb is completely different from Bradford road than it was from our passage higher up the valley side back in May as we keep close to its periphery before sidling into the grounds of East Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust property that offers a proud 17th century Grade 1 listed house, barns available for functions, a toilet block and an extensive duckpond in its public area, but no benches, so pic have to be snared on the detour before pizza is eaten on the nearest available patch of secluded grass. Returning to the former Aire Valley turnpike the feeling is that a move on is needed to get to the finish line in time, and the views south, when not interred with by suburban houses give us some fine aspects of the wooded side of the valley towards Hollins Planation and the St Ives estate, which gets me feeling that after saying so much positive about the dales of the Wharfe, Nidd and Calder over the years, I've really underrated Airedale as a picturesque locale, so consider that corrected today.
|Cougar Park, hidden away in Keighley.|
|Crossing the Aire at Aireworth.|
|East Riddlesden Hall.|
|Airedale is underrated as a Picturesque Locale.|
Road hauls like this one always seem to take longer than expected and there's now exception here, the passage seemingly slowed by the fact that the suburban growth along the old main road has filled every space available on the south facing side of Bradford Road, so as we shift through Riddlesden, to Sandbeds and Crossflatts, the semis never end, requiring pubs to service them like the Airedale Heifer brewhouse and the Octagon Sports bar. We do get rural aspects to the south, and am honestly to meet enclosures of grazing Fallow Deer by the roadside, but things get urban once we hit the 'Bradford North' Premier Inn and the old end of the Airevalley Road from when Bingley was deemed unbypassable, rising with Keighley Road to meet the downhill passage of Morton Beck and the path between the residential care home and Ryshworth Hall before forging a path into suburban Crossflatts via The Crescent and The Drive, possibly the most unimaginatively named estate roads in all of human history. This leads to Micklethwaite Lane and our passage around the residentially redeveloped Limefield Mill site, and a trot among a century's variety of housing style to meet Canal Road and to rise up to the towpath of the Leeds & Liverpool's cut, as this point in the Aire Valley is so narrow there really are only two routes available to walk, and I've blazed them both already. The walking company is out in force along here, on the southward stretch from Hainsworth's Boatyard to the top of Bingley Five Rise locks, which we won't get too close a look at as we cross the canal and depart its banks, pressing east-ish as we enter suburban Bingley, which we have found to be quite extensive over the last year, wandering on to Beck Lane to pass between allotments and houses you could never hope to afford, meeting our May Day weekend passage uphill as we cross Hall Bank Drive. Rise on through Priestthorpe district to the crossing of Park Road, one of the testing-est challenges to arrive upon my walking career, while finding that there's definitely a lot of desirable houses of many vintages up here, with the views over to the St Ives estate and to distant Ovenden Moor having attracted the suburbia for well over a century, which still has fragments of a rural identity hidden among it along Crownest Lane. Meet the downhill passage of the May Day weekend trek as we join Fernbank Road, scooting on and continuing to elevate among the houses of Ferncliffe, all placed for maximum viewing potential, and find that the elevating doesn't end when we meet Gilstead Lane as that goes uphill all the way to Bingley's eastern extremity, passing St Wilfred's church and only starting to descend when we meet Primrose Lane, where we can find the house that Sir Fred Hoyle grew up in, before he became a noted astrophysicist and the last notable proponent of the now-discredited Steady State theory of the Universe.
|Pounding out along Bradford Road.|
|Limefield Mills, Crossflatts.|
|The Leeds & Liverpool canal at Bingley Five Rise.|
|Priestthorpe and Ferncliffe have the houses with the views.|
|St Wilfred's church, Gilstead.|
The route downhill to the finish line has us joining Higher Coach Road as it forms a track through the woods past a bold gate and lodge house, one of those route that seems only vaguely public as no right of way seems to exist along it, not that it isn't used by plenty of other locals out for a walk or jog, and it idles downhill beneath more autumnal leaf cover down to the lodge at its eastern edge, which has you thinking that this must have been a properly private lane at some stage (indeed it was, with Milner Field house being long lost somewhere among these trees). Pleased that this particular shortcut is viable we arrive on the more public stretch which leads us down below Shipley Glen to the passage over Loadpit Beck, and then we detour into the Glenwood estate, the quite incongruous corner of the Greater Saltaire-Baildon-Shipley conurbation, where we pass down among the council flats and semis to meet the riverside for one last time, taking great interest in the pair of non-Nidd related aqueducts that stretch over the Aire, which we cross via the excessively bouncy footbridge. A straight line path through the trees beyond rises us up to Hirst Lock, for our last touching of bases with the canal for the day, then meeting Hirst Lane as it rises up to cross over the railway, past the Hirst Wood Community Nature reserve and the Hughes Family Bakery while the air feel thick with the profanity coming up from the playing fields at the valley bottom. Enter the less fashionable part of Saltaire along Dallam Avenue, passing among modest and undistinguished semis before we land at the western edge of Titus Salt's model village, and as we've got time to burn and some fine Autumn sunshine for photography, I'll mark 500 miles walked in 2018 whilst trying to visit as many street as possible within half an hour. So along the length of Caroline Street we go, passing a host of taller terrace end houses at the terminations of the ascending and descending rows, walking it all the way to its eastern end above the allotment gardens across from Salt's Mill, then taking a right up Exhibition Road to pass behind the Victoria Hall and in front of the former Technical college, before taking a left along the terraces of Titus Street. Switch onto George Street past the Methodist Chapel, and rise over the A657 Saltaire Road among more terrace ends to meet the A650 Bingley Road to walk in front of the busy shopping parade before meeting the furthest corner of the site across from the former tram depot where we can right turn down Albert Road, the leafiest of all the terraces, passing the local secondary schools as we go. Last Steps are theoretically taken along Albert Terrace past the many ends of terraces and alleyways to arrive on Victoria Road just in time for the 15.42 train, but it seems that Northern have seen fit to cancel it, and as the next strike affected service isn't due until after 5pm, our efforts against the clock were for naught and we'll have to bus it home via Bradford, and that means pacing back uphill past the former Primary school, the Victoria Hall and the former Infirmary to wrap the day at the bus stop by Park Street Park at 3.50pm.
|Higher Coach Road.|
|The Aire and the Aqueducts, Saltaire.|
|Caroline Street, Saltaire.|
|The Technical College, Exhibition Road, Saltaire.|
|Titus Street and George Street, Saltaire.|
|Albert Road, Saltaire.|
5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3594.4
2018 Total: 501 miles
Up Country Total: 3216.4 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles
Next Up: Finally travelling back to the Big City down the Aire Valley, after a fashion.