West Yorkshire Walk
Ilkley to Bingley
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It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.
Walk Route Description
This linear walk is a great railway walk because it starts and finishes at railway stations making the walk really accessible. You will cross Ilkley Moor and go from the lush green Wharfedale to the industrial Airedale. On the Wharfedale side there is a small detour to the Cow and Calf rocks to start with but you could just make your way to White Wells instead (a white cottage hanging on the hill side which was used as a spa therapy treatment base in Victorian times) and follow the Dales Way Link thus avoiding an extra mile to walk. On the Airedale side, you will arrive in the charming village of Micklethwaite before making your way towards Bingley via the Leeds & Liverpool canal Five Rise Locks.
The best way to go to Ilkley is by train which is easily accessible from Leeds or Bradford Forster Square. If you are coming by car, there are plenty of parking spaces in Ilkley including at the train station. As this is a linear walk, you might have to get back to your starting point but don't worry, Bingley is well connected to Ilkley by train and you will need to change at Shipley. The moors are a wild and boggy place and you will need adequate walking equipment for this walk. Most of the walk is on Open Access land so please remember the Countryside Code. There are some stiles on this walk too. No toilets and refreshments are available along the walk although both Ilkley and Bingley have public toilets as well as some public houses and coffee shops.
The walk starts from Ilkley Railway station and conveniently you will find yourself on Station Road once you are outside the railway station. Go right towards the Grove which is Ilkley's own "Champs Elysées" full of chic boutiques and home to the world famous Betty's tea shop. Decide or not to have a break there before your walk as it will be the last bit of "civilisation" you'll see before Bingley, then start to go up on the really charming Wells Promenade which was designed in Victorian times along a beck. Carry on all the way towards West View Park. Once you see a cattle grid across the road, take the footpath leading into the moors in front of you thus leaving the road completely. You will see a small pond on your right and a tarmac footpath on your right. Take the tarmac footpath which will lead you to The Tarn. This landscape is of course man-made and can be really busy at times but don't worry you will soon find yourself in the most remote place. Pass The Tarn and take the footpath going up the hill towards a small pine forest and some rocks. You should come across a footbridge before starting to go up again on quite a steep path (make sure that you go towards the pine forest, don't follow the stream). Once at the pine forest, you will see a disused quarry. Just follow the edge of the quarry and you'll soon find yourself on top of the Cow and Calf rocks. There are often a lot of climbers on the rocks and the quarry but it's a great place to appreciate the view across the valley. On a clear day, you should be able to see Ingleborough on the right, one of the highest peaks of the Yorkshire Dales and the whole of the Wharfedale.
Leave the rocks, go around the quarry circus and make your way up again towards the distant Rocky Valley. Once you arrive at the Backstone Beck, you will need to go upstream on the right hand side where you'll soon find a footpath. Carry on walking upstream but try to look for an ancient cup-marked rock that looks like a fish along the footpath. You should also see a ruined shepherd shed on the way just before arriving at Gill Head and joining the Dales Way Link.
This is the tricky bit. If you keep on following the Dales Way, you will eventually go to Saltaire, not Bingley. You want to follow the path for about 250 metres but look for some planks of wood crossing a ditch on your right. When you find them, you are on the right path which should lead you towards White Crag. If you haven't found them and you arrive at the Twelve Apostles Stone Circle you know that you are going the wrong way. Either decide to carry on and follow the Dales Way to Saltaire railway station or retrace your way to find the planks of wood. This is a bit more boggy than the Dales Way but the path is well defined.
Once at White Crag, you should see a dry stone wall in front of you and a gate. Open the gate and follow the footpath along another perpendicular wall. You should notice that the views are changing dramatically. On a clear day you can see Keighley and the rest of the Aire Valley, part of the Worth Valley but also Leeds, Bradford and even the Kirklees area with the Emley Moor Tower standing on the horizon. Again there are some extremely boggy bits but just follow the wall and you will be fine. Carry on until you see another wall across the fields on the other side of the wall. Once there, the path doesn't follow the wall anymore but you should see a well designed path which has been laid with stones. The path will lead you to a Range Rover track. Look for the standing stone pointing the "Ilkley" direction once you arrive there. Follow the track towards the woods in the distance. You will finally arrive at a junction between Heights Lane and Otley Road and leaving the Open Access Land completely.
The moors are now behind you and in front of you are the urban landscapes of the Aire Valley. Cross the road onto Heights Lane and look for the public pathway signs pointing across the fields on the right. Climb up the stile above the wall and make your way down the field. You will be following a small stream and the place can be a bit boggy sometimes. You will see a few stiles on the way too. Finally you will reach a house and you will need to make your way through a heavy small steel gate taking you on Carr Lane above Micklethwaite. Go down the Lane on your left towards the terraced houses up to High Fold. Once there, don't go down the road, look across the field and you should see Fairlady Farm (clearly indicated on the farm's facade). You should also see the former Bradford & Bingley building and the Damart chimney, common features of Bingley skyline. So you are almost there! Go towards Fairlady Farm passing two stiles on the way. Once at the farm, there is a tarmac road going around on the left, follow the path. At the end there will be a gate opening on a charming winding footpath flanked with dry stone walls on both sides and oak trees in the fields making it one of the most beautiful footpaths in the area to my view! Follow the path all the way to Greenhill Lane.
Be careful once you arrive at Greenhill Lane as this is a blind spot and cars coming up can't see you at all. Cross the road and go up Greenhill Lane. This is quite a steep road but is the last climb of the walk! Once you are at the top of the Lane, take right for several meters and look for a gate opening on a wood managed by the Woodland Trust. Just follow the main path going down the woods and you will soon arrive at a narrow path between houses gardens following a stream. The path can be slippery in parts so be careful. You will arrive at Oakwood Drive and in front of you will be a cul de sac. Just carry on straight and at the end of this cul de sac the pathway will resume up to Gawthorpe Drive. Again carry on straight down a flight of stairs and all the way to the junction of Beck Lane and Hall Bank Drive. Take right on Beck Lane which will lead you towards the Five Rise Locks. Along this Lane you should see some allotments on your left and at the end a small round about. Once there take left again down the Lane and you see finally be at the Five Rise Locks. There is a café there so if you need some refreshment and use their toilets it's probably the best place to do so. For interest, the Five Rise Locks were opened on 21st march 1774 and is the steepest flight of locks in the UK, with a gradient of about 1:5 (a rise of 59 ft 2 in (18.03 m) over a distance of 320 ft).
Now to go to Bingley centre, just follow the tow path down the locks. Once arrived at the Three Rise Locks you will need to change side to be on the Damart side of the canal. So either use the swing footbridge across the canal or try one of the daring bridges across one of the locks gate. Go down the locks and carry on along the towpath which will soon leave the canal to reach Park Road. Cross the street and take right above the bridge. Once you've passed the canal and the bypass, just before the railway, you should see an opening in the wall and a flight of stairs leading to the Railway Station platform. You have arrived at your destination.
Other walks nearby
Walk 3114 Haystacks, Twelve Apostles & Idol Stone of Ilkley Moor - easy/mod - 4.5 miles/7.3 km
Walk 1905 Beamsley Beacon and Bolton Abbey from Addingham - moderate - 10.0 miles/16.3 km
Walk 2942 Below Silsden Moor from Cringles - easy/mod - 6.8 miles/11.1 km
Walk 3079 Around Silsden Reservoir - easy - 6.0 miles/9.8 km
Walk 2574 Valley of Desolation & Barden Fell - moderate - 11.0 miles/17.9 km
Walk 1952 Five Rise Locks and the River Aire, Bingley - easy - 5.3 miles/8.5 km
Walk 3215 Steeton to Ilkley without a car - moderate - 7.5 miles/12.2 km
Walk 1001 Barden Bridge & the Strid from Bolton Abbey - easy - 4.0 miles/6.5 km
Walk 1249 Simon's Seat from Bolton Abbey - moderate - 10.0 miles/16.3 km
Walk 1405 Thruscross Reservoir & Kex Gill Moor from Blubberhouses - easy/mod - 8.5 miles/13.8 km
Recommended Books & eBooks
The Dales Way
An essential guidebook to walking the Dales Way. This picturesque 78 mile long distance route through the Yorkshire Dales between Ilkley and Bowness on Windermere is one of the gentlest multi-day walks in Britain. The route is described in both directions, visiting Grassington, Kettlewell, Buckden, Dent, Sedbergh and Staveley en route to Bowness.
This practical handbook covers digital outdoor photography and the whole range of outdoor activities including walking, running, cycling, water sports (in and on the water), as participant or spectator. Covers basic concepts, equipment and processing and optimising your images back at base.