The Roberts Family

Skipton Walks: Along the canal in the Leeds direction

Canal towpath → Start from Skipton and walk as far as you wish → Walk back again or use public transport.
Or use public transport to do a section further away.

Walking In The Leeds Direction

Obvious stopping/starting places when walking in the Leeds direction include Kildwick, Silsden, Riddlesden/Keighley, Bingley and Saltaire.


You can also, should you wish, go on to walk all the way to Leeds. This long section has many interesting things to see, and is more attractive than you might imagine.

Kildwick To Skipton - 4.6 miles

Kildwick is the first obvious starting/stopping point in the Leeds direction. We like to get the Keighley bus there, then walk back.

Get off the bus just before the roundabout and walk up the slope into the village. Turn left at the top, then to the right, by the entrance to the churchyard, you should see the Coffee and Crumbs cafe. It is excellent, but, as ever, check the opening hours. Just around the back of the cafe you can get on to the towpath.

The first thing to notice is the aqueduct where the canal passes over the road, then the impressive four-storey houses with balconies over the water.

The canal then loops around and passes Farnhill Wood on the opposite bank. We have seen kingfishers here.

A bit further on, by the Hamblethorpe swing bridge, is a memorial to a Polish aircrew lost here during the Second World War.


Should you choose to divert into Bradley Village, the Slaters Arms sells good beer. If not, onwards towards Skipton.

As you start to enter the outskirts of town you pass the Bay Horse pub then the Snaygill marina. The next pub is, sadly, closed, but then you pass the large, smart, Rendezvous Hotel with their hospitality boat moored outside.

Another mile or so and you're back in the town centre.

(In the interest of 'full disclosure' I must point out that for parts of this walk the canal runs alongside the A629 Keighley Road. Not ideal, but it doesn't prevent it being pleasant way to spend an hour and forty-five minutes.)

Kildwick to Silsden - 2 miles

I only recommend this section if it is part of a longer walk. The towpath here is the poorest in the area and can be muddy and uneven. And although Silsden is pleasant, there is no direct public transport link to Skipton. You would need to get either a bus to Addingham then another to Skipton, else a bus to Steeton then bus or train to Skipton. (Or you could walk back over Bradley and Skipton Moors!) Do NOT try to walk to Steeton - you do not want to try crossing the A629 on foot!


Silsden to Riddlesden and Keighley

As you will see on the map, the closest the canal gets to Keighley is the village of Riddlesden. Most of this section is rural, but as you come into the village houses back on to the canal. There are frequent buses from Riddlesden down into Keighley. If you have walked this far, you may need them!


Bingley and the Five Rise

Stay on the canal and you will eventually arrive at one of the wonders of the British canal system: the Bingley Five Rise. This five-step staircase is the steepest in the country. The cafe at the top is nice (usual caveat about opening hours) and, although I have never seen them, multiple people have told me that a family of otters live near the bottom.


Just below the Five Rise is the Three Rise. Near the Three Rise is a footbridge that will take you over the dual carriage way and into Bingley town.

Should you not fancy walking all the way, the best way get to the Five Rise from Skipton is to take the train to Crossflats and walk from there. If you wish, you can then carry on to Saltaire.

Bingley to Saltaire - 3 Miles

Saltaire is a Unesco World Heritage site. It is a 'model' village built by the river Aire by mill owner Titus Salt. It is often used as a filming location and is definitely worth a visit.

The canal walk from Bingley to Saltaire is urban initially, running alongside the busy A650 dual carriage way, but soon it diverges into countryside again. It goes down the Dowley Gap locks then crosses the eight-arched aqueduct over the river Aire. It then goes through a scenic, wooded section near Hurst Wood and the Hurst Mill rapids, then above the sports fields adjacent to Saltaire's James Roberts Park, (Good name that!)


On leaving the canal at Saltaire, turn left to check out river, weir, and park, then right to explore the village. Salt's Mill has galleries, shops and a busy diner. The railway station is a short way up the hill, and the houses of the model village are further up.