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Skipton Castle Woods Trail

There are currently 1 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

Skipton Castle Woods Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 26 Jun 2015 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
North Yorkshire, Skipton
Walk Type: Woodland
Skipton Castle Woods Trail
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 2 mile pretty woodland walk from the small market town of Skipton in North Yorkshire. The route follows the canal out of the town to reach Skipton Castle Woods, once used to provide timber, fuel and food for the castle, while its waterways powered local wool and saw mills, as well as being a source of fish.

The route follows a mix of wide stone tracks, tarmac paths and unmade woodland paths, the latter of which can get very muddy. A couple of sections lead you up the steep valley sides and you will need to negotiate steep flights of steps in these parts, plus a few gates elsewhere on the route. One of the valley top paths has a steep drop to the side so please take care here. Dogs are welcome in the woodland. There are toilets and plenty of options for refreshments in the centre of Skipton, where the walk begins. Approximate time 1 hour.

Skipton is located just to the south of the Yorkshire Dales, about 20 miles west of Harrogate, and is accessed from the A65. There are several car parks within the town, the nearest being the High Street short stay pay and display car park, the fee for which is £3.50 for 3 hours (correct Jun 2015). The walk starts and finishes on the High Street, outside the library and alongside the statue of Sir Mathew Wilson. Approximate post code BD23 1JX.

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Walk Sections

Start to Old Saw Mill
Start to Old Saw Mill

Start point: 53.9623 lat, -2.0165 long
End point: 53.9653 lat, -2.0137 long

Standing with your back to the library, facing the road (and the statue of Sir Mathew Wilson), turn left along the pavement, heading uphill towards the church. Follow the pavement as it swings left, signed to Settle. The pavement leads you over the canal bridge. Immediately afterwards, turn left down the steep flight of stone steps to reach the canal towpath.

Turn left, passing under the stone arch of Bridge 2 with the canal running on the right. On the left you will pass High Corn Mill. A water-powered corn mill belonging to the castle has occupied this site since before 1130. People from Skipton and beyond brought their corn to be ground here for centuries. In the late 1700s the owner extended the mill to also process rags into paper. The business closed in 1880 and corn was processed for animal feed into the 1900s.

The fenced elevated towpath continues with the canal on the right and a small stream running down to the left. Further along, you will pass the high walls of Skipton Castle up to the right (more about that later). At the end of the elevated section the path swings left, crossing a bridge over the stream, and then bends right and then left to reach a T-junction with a tarmac lane. Turn right along this to reach an information board and the wide wooden gate alongside the Old Saw Mill, marking the Saw Mill Entrance for Skipton Castle Woods.

Old Saw Mill to Woodland Top Path
Old Saw Mill to Woodland Top Path

Start point: 53.9653 lat, -2.0137 long
End point: 53.97 lat, -2.0151 long

Pass through the wide gate and keep ahead passing the 1785 old saw mill on your right, now converted to a private residence. Pass through the swing gate ahead and a metal ramp leads you across a cobbled weir. Simply follow the main stone track heading up into Skipton Castle Woods, with the river (Eller Beck) running down in the gulley to the right and a small stream running on the left.

The woodland here existed long before the first wooden castle was built in Skipton, more than 1,000 years ago. The woodland was used to provide timber, fuel and food for the castle, while its waterways powered local mills, as well as being a source of fish.

At the first fork keep left, on the smaller path signed to Sougha Gill. Follow this narrow path over a footbridge and climbing steeply up the woodland bank via the flight of steps. A few paces beyond the top of the steps, take the path on the right which leads you to the left of a tree trunk seating area. As you approach the woodland edge, bear right to join the woodland’s top path.

Woodland Top Path to Footbridge
Woodland Top Path to Footbridge

Start point: 53.97 lat, -2.0151 long
End point: 53.971 lat, -2.0084 long

Follow this wide stone path ahead, with a stone wall running just across to the left (ignoring any smaller paths into the woodland slope to the right).

A wealth of wildlife is present in this broadleaf woodland. In spring a number of wild flowers carpet the woodland including bluebells and an abundance of wild garlic with its white flowers and pervading smell. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of the badgers and roe deer that make the woodland their home.

Eventually the path begins to lead you downhill with a wooden handrail running on the left. At the bottom of the slope you will reach a junction of paths. Turn sharp right on the path signed to Long Dam. Follow this path with the river now running on the left. After just a short distance you will come to a footbridge across the river.

Footbridge to Bailey Exit Gate
Footbridge to Bailey Exit Gate

Start point: 53.971 lat, -2.0084 long
End point: 53.9663 lat, -2.0113 long

Cross the bridge and turn right to continue your woodland journey, with the river now running on the right. The waterways in the woodland help to support a range of species. If you are lucky you may see a heron or the flash of blue as a kingfisher patrols the banks.

Some distance along, take the path on the left signed to The Bailey (this is just before you reach the large pond on the left). Follow the path climbing up the hillside, with the large pond visible through the trees down to the right. The path leads you towards a walkway sitting above a stone arch. Take the flight of steps to the right and then bear right along the high woodland path with a stone wall running on the left.

Follow this path for some distance, taking care as some sections have a very steep drop on the right. Eventually the path will lead you over a bridge and out through the gate, the park’s Bailey Exit Gate.

Bailey Exit Gate to End
Bailey Exit Gate to End

Start point: 53.9663 lat, -2.0113 long
End point: 53.9625 lat, -2.0166 long

Turn right along the pavement, crossing over the entrance drive for the Bailey Car Park. Across to the left is the site of The Bailey, now home to housing and the offices of Skipton Building Society.

The raised pavement swings steadily right with the walls of Skipton Castle running on the right. The medieval castle was built in 1090 by Robert de Romille, a Norman baron. During the English Civil War the castle was a rare Royalist stronghold and was under siege for three years. Legend has it that sheep fleeces were used to deaden the impact of canon fire on the walls. Wool played an important role in the town’s history and fleeces featuring on the town’s coat of arms.

You will emerge down to the courtyard by the castle entrance. Continue along the (narrow) right-hand pavement, passing the entrance for Holy Trinity Church on the right. You can cross the road here (using the pedestrian island by the roundabout) or, if the roads are very busy, there is a crossing with traffic lights further along the road. Turn left along the High Street and you will soon reach the library where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Skipton Castle Woods Trail"

We really enjoyed this short walk as it helped us work up an appetite ready to visit and enjoy one of the numerous fab eating places in Skipton. Our dog enjoyed a dip in the beck too - so an all round a good experience.

By Richard on 2015-06-26 19:33:02

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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2 images to "Skipton Castle Woods Trail"

4654_0Richard1435340185 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The saw mill just before you enter Skipton woods.
4654_0lolls661475387996-1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: lolls66
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
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