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Two male goosanders and one female goosander on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal 450m on the Skipton side of the Niffany swing bridge
Two male goosanders and one female goosander on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal 450m on the Skipton side of the Niffany swing bridge

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Route No. 756 - Thursday 10 January 2019
A65 lay by, Thorlby, Stirton, Aireville Park,
Leeds & Liverpool canal circuit - 7km
Skipton . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


Lay-by on the A65 at map ref. SD 962 529 where we parked to start & end our walk
Lay-by on the A65 at map ref. SD 962 529 where we parked to start & end our walk

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Turning left from the end of the lay-by towards Thorlby
Turning left from the end of the lay-by towards Thorlby

The lane into Thorlby
The lane into Thorlby

There were several clumps of snowdrops just coming into flower. I wondered if we will have any serious winter weather this year? After about 300m we came to a road junction in the village and we kept straight on along Sour Lane heading out of the village towards Stirton. On our left we passed the old Wesleyan Methodist Chapel that consists of a so called "Tin Tabernacle". There we prefabricated corrugated iron churches manufactured mainly in the second half of the 1800's and exported all over the then British Empire, and widely used in this country too.

The weather today was rather cloudy with a few brief sunny spells but it stayed fine and dry. My friend, Jim, and I from to Skipton and at the large roundabout at the A65, A59 and A629 junction we took the A65 towards Gargrave. About 1km from the large roundabout there is a lay-by on the right hand side of the road just beyond a turning to the village of Thorlby. We parked in this lay-by at map ref. SD 962 529. From the southeastern end of the lay-by we turned left to walk along the lane into Thorlby village.

One of the clumps of snowdrops by the road side
One of the clumps of snowdrops by the road side

Crossing the road junction in Thorlby
Crossing the road junction in Thorlby


The old Wesleyan Methodist Church in Thorlby, a 'Tin Tabernacle'

Heading towards Stirton
Heading towards Stirton

Left turn at the crossroads in Stirton with the stocks on our right
Left turn at the crossroads in Stirton with the stocks on our right

The road out of Stirton
The road out of Stirton

We continued generally southwards along Stirton Lane out of the village. We crossed the road bridge over a beck flowing out of the village and followed the road round a left hand bend as we headed down to a junction with A65.

About 700m from the road junction in Thorlby we came to a crossroads in Stirton. At the crossroads we turned right passing the old village stocks on our right.

Entering Stirton village
Entering Stirton village

The road out of Stirton
The road out of Stirton

Heading for the A65 from Stirton
Heading for the A65 from Stirton

Junction with the A65 ahead
Junction with the A65 ahead

Walking along the A65 from the junction
Walking along the A65 from the junction

Crossing the A65 at the roundabout
Crossing the A65 at the roundabout

Gargrave Road heading into Skipton
Gargrave Road heading into Skipton

Turning to Skipton College, leisure centre & Aireville Park
Turning to Skipton College, leisure centre & Aireville Park

It is quite a busy road and we were glad of the refuge to make the crossing easier. From our crossing point we doubled back along Gargrave road for about 20m and then turned left down the access road to Skipton College. Beyond the college we passed the car park for the swimming pool and leisure centre with the centre itself below the car park down the hill side to our right.

At the A65 junction we turned left and walked along the road side footpath for about 150m to the large roundabout that we had crossed as we drove to the start of our walk. We followed the footpath round the roundabout to Gargrave Road and followed Gargrave road southeastwards towards the centre of Skipton. After about 450m along Gargrave Road we turned right to cross the road at a crossing point with a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road.

Roundabout on the Skipton by-pass
Roundabout on the Skipton by-pass

Turning on to Gargrace Road from the roundabout
Turning on to Gargrave Road from the roundabout

Crossing Gargrave Road
Crossing Gargrave Road

Past Skipton College heading for Airevill Park
Past Skipton College heading for Aireville Park

Crossing the leisure centre car park entrance to the path where the council truck is parked
Crossing the leisure centre car park entrance to the path where the council truck is parked

Path into Aireville Park
Path into Aireville Park

Nearing the exit from Aireville Park
Nearing the exit from Aireville Park

We continued through the park gates and along a road for another 70m to the Gawflat swing bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Once across the bridge we turned right and walked along the canal tow path heading away from Skipton.

There was a surfaced path along the northern edge of the car park leading through Aireville Park. We followed the surfaced path down through the park for about 600m to the park gates.

Path through Aireville Park
Path through Aireville Park

Crossing Gawflat Sing Bridge over the canal
Crossing Gawflat Sing Bridge over the canal

Following the tow path out of Skipton from Gawflat Bridge
Following the tow path out of Skipton from Gawflat Bridge

Passing several street ends on the left of the tow path
Passing several street ends on the left of the tow path

Factory building and chimney by the tow path
Factory building and chimney by the tow path

Nearing the last few houses as we left Skipton on the tow path
Nearing the last few houses as we left Skipton on the tow path

Goosanders are fish eating ducks with a narrow serrated bill for gripping their prey. We do not see these birds very often and I was keen to get a photo of them, but as I raised my camera they took off and flew along the canal close to the water to land about 150m ahead. We continued quietly along the tow path to try for a photo again. Another male goosander had joined them and this time I managed to get my photo of the three of them.

There were just a couple of canal boats moored here as we made our way along the tow path with the canal on our right and the ends of a number of streets on our left next to the tow path. Just beyond these streets we passed a high factory building with a tall chimney and then there were the back gardens of houses for about 300m. As we were passing these houses we noticed a pair of goosanders by some reeds on the far side of the canal.

Three of last year's cygnets moving quickly along the canal
Three of last year's cygnets moving quickly along the canal

Leaving Skipton along the tow path
Leaving Skipton along the tow path

Three goosanders, 2M & 1F, on the canal
Three goosanders, 2M & 1F, on the canal

The A629 road bridge over the canal
The A629 road bridge over the canal


Canal boats moored around the bend at Niffany Bridge

As we rounded the bend we came to the Niffany Swing Bridge across the canal at Niffany Farm. The line of moored canal boats continued past the farm and round the bend ahead.

We had passed all the houses by now and ahead was the huge concrete structure of the A629 road bridge over the canal. From the road bridge the canal made a long left hand bend where there was a long line of moored canal boats on the outside of the bend.

Niffany Bridge
Niffany Bridge

From Niffany Bridge the tow path is separated from the canal by this fence
From Niffany Bridge the tow path is separated from the canal by this fence

Fence for 200m separating the tow path from the canal
Fence for 200m separating the tow path from the canal

Moor canal boats moored along the bank from Niffany Bridge
Moor canal boats moored along the bank from Niffany Bridge

From the gate we continued along the tow path for about 750m to the road bridge carrying the A59 over the canal.

From the swing bridge there was a fence next to the canal and the tow path was outside the fence next to the road for about 200m. Just before the road bridge over the railway to our left, there was a gate ahead to rejoin the canal.

From this gate the normal tow path resumes
From this gate the normal tow path resumes

Moor canal boats moored along the bank from Niffany Bridge
Moor canal boats moored along the bank from Niffany Bridge

Road Bridge carrying the A59 over the canal
Road Bridge carrying the A59 over the canal

A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge
A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge

A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge
A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge

The canal made a long right hand bend around Hoober Hill and then bent left again heading for Thorlby Swing Bridge. There were some swans on the far bank of the canal here and a flock of swans at the top of a field on Hoober Hill.

Beyond this road bridge there was a lovely quiet stretch of the canal between the fields. The sky was overcast now with mist on the low hills around us.

A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge
A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge

A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge
A tranquil stretch of the canal heading for Thorlby Bridge

Approaching Thorlby Bridge along the tow path
Approaching Thorlby Bridge along the tow path

Geese on the canal bank at Thorlby Bridge
Geese on the canal bank at Thorlby Bridge

Bridleway from the bridge to the A65
Bridleway from the bridge to the A65

At the bridge we turned right and crossed the bridge. From the bridge we followed a public bridleway along an access track that led us out to the end of our walk at A65 with the lay-by opposite where we had parked. The whole walk had been almost 7km and it had taken us a little over two hours to walk.

As we approached the swing bridge there was another group of large white birds on the far bank of the canal but this time they were geese. I assume they were domestic geese as I don't think we get any white wild geese here. Just beyond the geese we came to the Thorlby Swing Bridge.

Crossing Thorlby Bridge
Crossing Thorlby Bridge

Gate from the bridleway to the A65
Gate from the bridleway to the A65

Returning to the lay-by off the A65 at the end of our walk
Returning to the lay-by off the A65 at the end of our walk

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