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Junction of the Leeds & Liverpool canal with the Springs Canal, a canal branch to Skipton Castle

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Route No. 612 - Thursday 17 March 2016
Skipton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Niffany Bridge,
Ling Lane, Auction Mart, Canal, Gawflat Bridge,
Springs Canal, Eller Beck, The Bailey(A6131),
Rectory Lane circuit - 10km, Skipton . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


 Large 'Pay & Display' car park in the centre of Skipton
Large 'Pay & Display' car park in the centre of Skipton

Looking along Keighley Road from the end of the High Street
Looking along Keighley Road from the end of the High Street

From the car park we walked back to the High Street(A6131) and turned left to walk along the A6131 to the busy junction at the bottom of the High Street. We continued along the A6131 through the road junction and along Keighley Road to the road bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool canal at map ref. SD 988 513. On the south side of the canal we turned left off the road at "Harvey's finest fish & chips" shop and followed the path down to the tow path beside the canal.

This week we have had a spell of fine sunny weather and this morning my friend, Jim, and I drove out to Skipton. We parked at the main public car park, map ref. SD 991 518, off the A6131 in the centre of Skipton. It's called a long stay car park but the maximum stay is 4 hours and the walk should take around three hours (maybe a bit longer with my arthritic knees).

Looking back to the Keighley Road bridge over the canal
Looking back to the Keighley Road bridge over the canal

The junction of the Leeds & Liverpool canal with the Springs Canal, a local branch canal from Skipton Castle
The junction of the Leeds & Liverpool canal with the Springs Canal, a local branch canal from Skipton Castle

Swing bridge over the canal at Brewery Lane
Swing bridge over the canal at Brewery Lane

We continued along the tow path as the canal bends round to the left. We passed Gawflat swing bridge with the old mill buildings on our left, now converted to desirable flats with a view of the canal and its colourful narrow boats. The canal has a very rural feel to it even though we were still within Skipton.

At the canal we turned left to follow the tow path heading north west to the junction of the Leeds & Liverpool canal with the Springs Canal where there are numerous canal boats maneuvering and moored. It's a busy scene with shops and people on the opposite bank of the canal.

Passing old mill buildings now desireable flats
Passing old mill buildings now desirable flats

Approaching Gawflat swing bridge along the tow path
Approaching Gawflat swing bridge along the tow path

Nearing the A629 viaduct over the canal
Nearing the A629 viaduct over the canal

Our canal crossing at Niffany Bridge
Our canal crossing at Niffany Bridge

Public footpath by-passing Niffany Farm
Public footpath by-passing Niffany Farm

We walked past Niffany Farm along the canal bank for about 60m to a steel field gate ahead. There was no footpath sign on the gate but we went through the gate following the route of the public footpath shown on the map. We followed the route of the path along the edge of the field climbing up Niffany Hill to a group of trees on the hill top.

About 1.2km from Gawflat swing bridge we came to the viaduct of the A629 dual carriageway across the canal and left the streets of Skipton behind us. We continued along the tow path for about 250m to Niffany Farm on the opposite side of the canal. At the farm we crossed the Niffany swing bridge and then doubled back along a public footpath on the other side of the canal.

Narrow boat moorings near Niffany Farm
Narrow boat moorings near Niffany Farm

Across Niffany Bridge we doubled back along the canal
Across Niffany Bridge we doubled back along the canal

About to climb up Niffany Hill to the trees on the sky-line
About to climb up Niffany Hill to the trees on the sky-line

Looking back over Skipton and the A629 viaduct from Niffany Hill
Looking back over Skipton and the A629 viaduct from Niffany Hill

Looking north from Niffany Hill to Flasby Fell
Looking north from Niffany Hill to Flasby Fell

We walked down the slope across the field to the far right hand corner as the ewes with their new lambs kept a very wary eye on us. In the corner of the field there is an old green track called Ling Lane. It's clearly not walked much but we followed the route of the public footpath along the lane with its overgrown hedges and debris of small branches underfoot.

We paused at the top of Niffany Hill to look at the view over Skipton behind us. Then we continued over the brow of the hill and began to walk down the slope on the other side of the hill now with a lovely view of Flasby Fell ahead of us.

Ewes and their lambs keeping a wary eye on us
Ewes and their lambs keeping a wary eye on us

Making our way along Ling Lane
Making our way along Ling Lane

Stile where the boggy overgrown part of Ling Lane begins
Stile where the boggy overgrown part of Ling Lane begins

Stile off the A629 into the industrial estate
Stile off the A629 into the industrial estate

We then turned right to walk the 50m in the pasture land next to the old lane to reach the A629 at map ref. SD 972 521. There is a stile into the old lane from the A629 but the access does not look any better from this end of the lane. Here we crossed this busy road to a stile opposite and over the stile we were in some industrial land. We turned right and followed the public footpath along a grassy strip next to the A629 on our right and a large industrial shed on our left.

After about 200m along this old green lane there was a stile on the left hand side of the lane where another public footpath goes off across the fields to Culvert Lane and the A65. Our route lay straight ahead but here the old lane had become very wet with deep soft mud and the whole lane was much more overgrown. It would have been a real battle to force our way through it all. Our only option (apart from going back) was to cross the stile on our left.

Stile from Ling Lane on to the A629
Stile from Ling Lane on to the A629

Path alongside the A629
Path alongside the A629

Path around the edge of the land recently cleared for more building
Path around the edge of the land recently cleared for more building

Where the path joins the Auction Mart service road
Where the path joins the Auction Mart service road

Following the service road down towards the canal
Following the service road down towards the canal

Path next to the Auction Mart waste disposal area
Path next to the Auction Mart waste disposal area

Just beyond the buildings the path leaves the road by going straight on where the road bends right into an area where cattle trucks are washed out. The path has a small public footpath arrow marker where it leaves the road and a much more obvious sign indicating "Students footpath" in large white letters on a maroon background. We followed this path down past some slurry tanks where the waste from the cattle trucks seemed to end up.

Beyond this industrial building the land had recently been cleared and it looked as though it was in preparation for more buildings on the site. We followed the path around two sides of the cleared area to the road at the entrance the the Skipton Auction Mart. From here the public footpath follows the road heading southwards past the Auction Mart buildings.

Following the service road down towards the canal
Following the service road down towards the canal

Sign where the path leaves the service road
Sign where the path leaves the service road

Path next to the Auction Mart waste disposal area
Path next to the Auction Mart waste disposal area

Back at the canal leaving the Auction Mart behind
Back at the canal leaving the Auction Mart behind

Public footpath by the canal
Public footpath by the canal

Entrance to the conservation meadow
Entrance to the conservation meadow

Crossing the canal on Gawflat Bridge
Crossing the canal on Gawflat Bridge

We continued along the public footpath on the canal bank for about 800m to Gawflat swing bridge Along the way we passed the entrance to the " Gawflat Historic Conservation Meadow" on the left of the path. We didn't have time to explore this area as the time was ticking away on our 4 hour long stay at the Skipton car park. We crossed Gawflat swing bridge and retraced our steps along the canal tow path.

Just beyond this rather dismal area the path reaches the canal bank at map ref. SD 975 515. Here the path turns left and follows the canal bank eastwards. I have to say that the route from the muddy, overgrown end of Ling Lane to the canal here is pretty grotty not by any means the most attractive path I've walked. But it's only 700m in total and the rest of the route is lovely (with the best still to come).

Public footpath by the canal
Public footpath by the canal

Nearing Gawflat Bridge along the public footpath
Nearing Gawflat Bridge along the public footpath

Following the tow path back into Skipton
Following the tow path back into Skipton

 The junction of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Springs Canal
The junction of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and the Springs Canal

Leaving the tow path at Belmont Wharfe
Leaving the tow path at Belmont Wharfe

Steps from Coach Street down to Springs Canal
Steps from Coach Street down to Springs Canal

Tow path between Springs Canal and Eller Beck
Tow path between Springs Canal and Eller Beck

We followed the tow path beside Springs Canal heading northwest. This is a very pretty route tucked away in the middle of Skipton. We passed under the road bridge on the B6265 called Mill Bridge and from there the tow path lies between the canal on the right and Eller beck on the left as it passes behind Skipton Castle where the castle buildings tower over the canal. The Springs Canal branch ends here and the path continues beside Eller beck on the left.

Just beyond the canal junction with the Springs Canal we veered off the tow path on to a street called Belmont Wharfe. We walked along this street for about 20m to the A6069 where we turned left to follow the road over the canal. When we had crossed the canal we turned left into Coach Street and walked along Coach Street to cross the road bridge over the Springs Canal. Just across the Springs Canal we turned left off the road to descend some stone steps down to the canal tow path.

Looking SW along Springs Canal from Coach Street
Looking SW along Springs Canal from Coach Street

Joining the Springs Canal tow path from Coach Street
Joining the Springs Canal tow path from Coach Street

Tow path overshadowed by the Skipton Castle buildings
Tow path overshadowed by the Skipton Castle buildings

The path by Eller Beck where the Springs Canal ends
The path by Eller Beck where the Springs Canal ends

Bridge over Eller Beck leading to Chapel Hill
Bridge over Eller Beck leading to Chapel Hill

Path through Skipton Castle Wood
Path through Skipton Castle Wood

One of the frogs mating at the edge of Round Dam lake
One of the frogs mating at the edge of Round Dam lake

At the northern end of the lake two people were staring intently at the water and as we approached they exclaimed excitedly that there were mating frogs in the lake. Sure enough in the shallows at the edge of the lake there were a great many frogs doing what frogs do with each other in the spring surrounded by clumps of frog spawn showing that they had been busy for some time.

Beyond the end of the canal the path crosses Eller Beck on a footbridge and joins a road called Chapel Hill. At the end of this cul-de-sac is a permissive path leading into Skipton Castle Woods, a Woodland Trust wood. The path follows Eller Beck through this lovely wooded little valley. After about 400m the path crosses the beck to a lake called Round Dam.

Entrance to Skipton Castle Wood
Entrance to Skipton Castle Wood

Bridge over Eller Beck leading to Round Dam lake
Bridge over Eller Beck leading to Round Dam lake

A few of the frogs mating at the edge of Round Dam lake
A few of the frogs mating at the edge of Round Dam lake

Round Dam lake in Skipton Castle Wood
Round Dam lake in Skipton Castle Wood

Path by Eller Beck leading up the valley
Path by Eller Beck leading up the valley

Path up the side of the valley
Path up the side of the valley

Path back along the top edge of the wood
Path back along the top edge of the wood

Here the path turned right and climbed up the side of the little valley to a path running back along the top edge of the woodland. We followed this path for about 1km to the exit from the woodland onto a walled track leading to the A6131 at map ref. SD 994 522.

From the Round Dam lake we continued along the path above Eller Beck until we could see ahead of us a pair of large culverts carrying Eller Beck under the Skipton by-pass.


Twin culverts under the Skipton bypass

Path back along the top edge of Skipton Castle wood
Path back along the top edge of the wood

Walled track from the wood to The Bailey (A6131)
Walled track from the wood to The Bailey (A6131)

Gate leading out to The Bailey (A6131)
Gate leading out to The Bailey (A6131)

Walking down The Bailey(A6131) towards the centre of Skipton
Walking down The Bailey(A6131) towards the centre of Skipton

About 150m down Rectory Lane we turned right for just a few metres along a street called Rope Walk and then turned right again into the car park and the end of our walk. It had taken us 3 hours 30 minutes to walk the 9km of this route which fitted nicely into the 4 hours maximum stay in this car park.

At the main road we turned right and walked down towards the centre of Skipton passing the head quarters of the Skipton Building Society on the left. The main road here is called The Bailey(A6131) and where The Bailey bends to the right we kept straight on along a narrow road called Rectory Lane.

Heading down Rectory Close towards the car park
Heading down Rectory Close towards the car park

Returning to the car park at the end of oyur walk
Returning to the car park at the end of our walk

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