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Ilkley to Bingley

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Ilkley to Bingley
Author: WalkInYorkshire, Published: 27 Mar 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
West Yorkshire, Bradford
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Ilkley to Bingley
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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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 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 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.

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Walk Sections

Ilkley Railway Station (start) to Cow and Calf Rocks
Ilkley Railway Station (start) to Cow and Calf Rocks

Start point: 53.9246 lat, -1.8214 long
End point: 53.9168 lat, -1.8035 long

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.

Cow and Calf Rocks to Dales Way Link
Cow and Calf Rocks to Dales Way Link

Start point: 53.9168 lat, -1.8035 long
End point: 53.9094 lat, -1.8132 long

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.

Dales Way Link to White Crag
Dales Way Link to White Crag

Start point: 53.9094 lat, -1.8132 long
End point: 53.8996 lat, -1.8178 long

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 foud 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.

Across Bingley Moor
Across Bingley Moor

Start point: 53.8996 lat, -1.8178 long
End point: 53.8757 lat, -1.8354 long

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.

Crossing Mickletwaite
Crossing Mickletwaite

Start point: 53.8757 lat, -1.8354 long
End point: 53.8641 lat, -1.8381 long

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 façade). 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.

From Greenhill to Five Rise Locks
From Greenhill to Five Rise Locks

Start point: 53.8641 lat, -1.8381 long
End point: 53.8563 lat, -1.8381 long

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, turn right for several metres 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. Turn left 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 turn left again down the Lane and you will 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).

Five Rise Locks to Bingley Railway Station
Five Rise Locks to Bingley Railway Station

Start point: 53.8563 lat, -1.8381 long
End point: 53.8487 lat, -1.8371 long

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.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author WalkInYorkshire and may not be reproduced without permission.


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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