Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Canal Walk: Keighley to Skipton 10 miles

This was the first sunny weekend for months so it was off to Skipton to complete the stretch up to Keighley. We parked in the large town centre carpark by the junction with Springs Branch. It is £3.50 for over 4hours which isn’t bad. I decided to get the train to Keighley (pronounced Keith ley not Key ley) and walk the ten miles back to Skipton. We were early for the train so we got lunch from the Morrisons next to the station and ate it on the platform while we waited. We got a Metro train and it took about 15 minutes to get to Keighley.

From Keighley station turn right onto the main road, Bradford Road, and follow it over the roundabout, over the River Aire, cross at the crossing and then take next the left, Bar Lane. In front of you is Stockbridge Swing Bridge #197. Turn left for Skipton. It took us about 20 minutes to walk from the station to the canal, about a mile.

There are some canal-side housing here after which I found the first mile post which should show Liverpool to be 108miles away. A sign told me this was National Cycle Network route 69. There were quite a few boats on the move, all but a couple were trip boats and day hire boats. Most of the bridges on this section are swing bridges which gives the crew plenty of practice in stopping starting and picking up. I had forgotten my handcuff key so sadly couldn’t help out.

The canal is quite high up on the side of the valley with views across to Keighley town and its green domed mosque.

A mile on and there was milepost 107 again without its distance plaques. The canal passes through woods here; the trees meet and touch branches over the canal. We were passed for the first time by a group of cyclists we were to pass and be passed by six times!
On Lodge Hill bridge #194 you can find a metal plaque with the benchmark on it. The towpath turned quite muddy in places and I was glad to be walking not cycling. Another mile and another milepost, 106 miles to Liverpool. We were doing well.

The flowers in the hedgerow seemed to be coordinated; the theme this weekend was purple.

I couldn’t see the next milepost, 105miles, but had no trouble spotting a canal-side mill in Silsden. Silsden had some of the best designed new canal-side houses on the whole canal. They had the look of a warehouse or mill but with large windows and nice patio areas. Through Silsden Bridge 191A is the boatyard of Silsden Boats. Here there are some good ruined and abandoned buildings. One house covered by trees would be a lovely place to live. And for a neighbour you would have a baby shire horse. A bit further on and Raven was at its moorings, an interesting boat I had noticed last time I was near Skipton. The sun glistened on the ripples as the canal gently wandered along the contour.

After Cowling Swing Bridge #191 is milepost #104. After another mile of swing bridges comes Kildwick. Warehouse Swing Bridge #187 seemed to be getting engineering attention by BW who were also giving medical attention to a bridge user who had come off second best in trying to open it. Parsons Bridge #186 is fittingly next to a church and graveyard and has a covered gateway at one end. There is a small carpark besides Redman Swingbridge #185.
Milepost 102 was there with maker pen distances written on it. The canal again passes through woods and fields of cattle.
At Hambethorpe Swing Bridge #183 there is a war memorial. I had read about this and was keen not to miss it. As luck would have it a boat was passing through the bridge so I had to wait for it to go before I could cross to photo the memorial. There is an information board which gives the details of the Polish airmen who crashed their bomber here during WW2.
Not far past the bridge is milepost 101.
The canal loops around and comes close to Low Bradley before coming to Low Snaygill. There was a lot of activity around the boatyard and almost a coming together with two boats and one bridge hole. No sign of milepost 100, a bit of a shame or 99 but just before the end of our trek was the only milestone of the walk. A thin stone similar to one in Church.
Back in Skipton we dropped our things off at the car and went for a well earned tea at the very popular chip shop.

It’s a good walk but you are never far from the noise of the busy roads which follow the valley. It is similar to the canal around Appley Bridge but without the locks and with a bigger valley. It doesn’t have much in the way of industrial archaeology but is pleasant enough.

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