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West Yorkshire Walk
Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley

County/Area - West Yorkshire - Bradford

Author - Dave Melling

Length - 5.3 miles / 8.5 km    Ascent - 400 feet / 121 metres

Time - 3 hours 0 minutes    Grade - easy

Start - OS grid reference SE109392
Lat 53.848925 // Long -1.835801
Postcode BD16 4JH (approx. location only)
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley Photo from the walk - Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley Photo from the walk - Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley Photo from the walk - Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley Photo from the walk - Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley
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This is a surprisingly picturesque walk along the Leeds to Liverpool Canal and the river Aire that never strays far from the centre of Bingley. It visits important industrial structures such as the five rise locks, the tranquillity of the riverside and a bluebell wood. There is the possibility of seeing a wide range of wildlife from kingfishers to otters.

The walk starts in the centre of Bingley at the metal suspension that spans the Bingley by pass road and the canal (grid reference SE 109392). Cross over the bridge onto the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Turn left and follow the towpath . The industrial side of Bingley can be seen on the right bank. Most of the mills are rapidly being converted into residential accommodation, some are even being rebuilt to look like mill buildings. As the canal bends right, three rise locks comes into view. Continue a little further on to the unique five rise locks.

The Leeds and Liverpool canal is 127 miles ling and is the longest man made waterway in England. The section from Hirst Wood Lock to Bingley, which this walk covers, was opened in 1774. It was designed to carry the 'short boats' particular to this waterway Measuring 62 feet by 14 feet they could carry a cargo of 45 tons, twice as much as the as a standard narrow boat. Locks were grouped together in staircases so that the boats had long free runs. The five rise locks is the most spectacular and rises 60 feet in height. The boats originally carried coal, stone, wool and variety of other cargoes. But, the main prize for the expanding towns and cities in the 18th Century was the ability to get limestone from the Yorkshire dales for making lime mortar. The use of mortar enabled large buildings to be constructed and moved the textile industry from the cottage to the factory. Commercial traffic on the canal ceased in 1964.

Retrace the way down the towpath to the three rise locks. Take the bridge on the right over the Bingley bypass. At the traffic lights cross straight over the road onto Millgate and head for the sign marked riverside walk just before the bridge over the river. Turn left down this path shortly reaching the bank of the river Aire. Continue onwards until the path opens out into a large grassy area. Follow the bank round to the second metal bridge over the river. Cross the river and go along the path with the allotments on the right. At the junction with the lane turn left and follow the lane past the Shipley Golf Club on the right. Where the lane meets the main Bradford road, cross over to the gap in Cottingley Bridge on the opposite side. Go down the steps and along the footpath between the river and the buildings. The path opens to reveal rugby pitches and, on the river, a canoeing slalom course. Keep going along the river bank and under the large viaduct carrying the A650 Bingley by pass. This 2 ½ mile stretch of road was completed in 2003 at a cost of £ 47.9m.

The section of the river has become much cleaner over the last few years and wildlife is returning. It is good for wide range of birds including the goosander with its odd, frog like, croak and a host of smaller river birds including kingfisher and grey wagtail. Mammals are present with mink and otter known to reside in the area.

From the viaduct follow the path up a slight gradient to reach a gate in a wall by the side of the river. Go through the gate and follow the walled path, ignoring the right turn, and reach the river bank once again. Follow the path, passing the cemetery on the right and go under the railway into Hirst Wood. The wood is mainly of birch and oak with a swathe of colour in May when the blue bells are in flower. It is an excellent breeding site for woodpecker, jay, nuthatch, tree creeper, black cap and long tailed tit. There are also occasional sightings of sparrow hawks and owls. The resident grey squirrels are interesting as they hide in the bird nesting boxes during cold weather.

From the railway bridge the path goes steeply up the hill on the right. Continue westwards through the wood to emerge at a car park. Cross over the Hirst Wood canal swing bridge and turn right on the canal towpath. After few yards turn left through the gap in the stone wall. Walk straight on and go across the river Aire on the metal footbridge. Turn left and follow the river bank to the weir. The mill on the left bank has a faded sign offering to wash your clothes. Walk between the river and the rowing club and follow the river bank until the path joins the canal at the end of the seven arches aqueduct. On the opposite bank of the canal is Dowley Gap Mill which was built as a worsted mill in 1818 but had fallen into disuse by 1890. Turn right on the towpath and upon reaching the packhorse bridge numbered 206 cross over the canal and turn right. Head for the Dowley Gap locks, a smaller version of the staircase lock. Continue along the towpath. Pass under Scourer Bridge and go on for approximately one mile until the metal suspension bridge at the start of the walk is reached.



Other walks nearby

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Walk 1449 Cullingworth Circular - easy/mod - 6.3 miles/10.2 km

Walk 2802 Shipley to Ilkley via Ilkley Moor - moderate - 10.8 miles/17.6 km

Walk 3114 Haystacks, Twelve Apostles & Idol Stone of Ilkley Moor - easy/mod - 4.5 miles/7.3 km

Walk 1135 Top Withins and the Bronte Bridge from Haworth - moderate - 8.0 miles/13 km

Walk 2319 Ilkley to Bingley - easy/mod - 7.0 miles/11.4 km

Walk 1307 A circuit of Ovenden Moor from Oxenhope - moderate - 8.0 miles/13 km

Walk 2705 Oxenhope to Hebden Bridge without a car - moderate - 11.0 miles/17.9 km

Walk 3215 Steeton to Ilkley without a car - moderate - 7.5 miles/12.2 km

Walk 1584 Ogden Reservoir - easy - 4.0 miles/6.5 km

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