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The canal tow path nearing the Rodley swing bridge across the canal
The canal tow path nearing the Rodley swing bridge across the canal

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Route No. 759 - Saturday 2 February 2019
Rodley Nature Reserve, Leeds & Liverpool Canal,
River Aire, Newlay, canal circuit - 8km
Leeds, West Yorkshire . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield


Note: Rodley Nature Reserve is open on Wednesdays, weekends and bank holidays & is run entirely by volunteers

Ready to set off from the car park at the Rodley Nature Reserve
Ready to set off from the car park at the Rodley Nature Reserve

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Flock of Canada geese in the field next to the car park
Flock of Canada geese in the field next to the car park

Following the tow path NW from the reserve entrance
Following the tow path NW from the reserve entrance

This month our walk was led by our friend Geoff who had checked out the route beforehand. From the car park we walked back across the bridge over the River Aire and out of the reserve to the canal tow path. At the canal we turned right and walked along the canal tow path. It was a lovely bright winters day. The canal was frozen over and there was alight covering of snow on the fields. After about 600m along the tow path we came to the next swing bridge over the canal called Rodley Bridge that leads to Rodley Fold Farm on our right.

This morning my wife and I drove to the Rodley Nature Reserve on the edge of Leeds to meet a group of friends for our monthly walk together. The entrance to the nature reserve is off Rodley Town Street, marked by a brown tourist sign, and across the Leeds & Liverpool Canal over Moss Bridge, a canal swing bridge. We drove along the access road into the reserve and across the bridge over the River Aire. Just across this bridge the car park is on the left at map ref. SE 230 362.

Crossing the River Aire on the access road from the reserve
Crossing the River Aire on the access road from the reserve

Following the tow path by the Leeds & Liverpool canal
Following the tow path by the Leeds & Liverpool canal

Tow path from the Rodley swing bridge to the Calverley Bridge carrying the A6120, Leeds ring road
Tow path from the Rodley swing bridge to the Calverley Bridge carrying the A6120, Leeds ring road

Tow path from Calverley Bridge to the Owl swing bridge
Tow path from Calverley Bridge to the Owl swing bridge

From Calverley Bridge we followed the tow path to the next swing bridge called Owl Bridge.

From Rodley swing bridge we continued along the canal tow path and passed under Calverley Bridge that carries the Leeds ring road, A 6120, over the canal.

Tow path from Calverley Bridge to the Owl swing bridge
Tow path from Calverley Bridge to the Owl swing bridge

Turning right off the tow path at the Owl swing bridge
Turning right off the tow path at the Owl swing bridge

The paved path in front of some houses
The paved path in front of some houses

Footbridge over the River Aire
Footbridge over the River Aire

We followed a narrow footpath down to a stone bridge over the River Aire. From the bridge our friend Peter noticed a heron standing in the bright sunshine on the river bank and I managed to get a photo of it.

Opposite Owl Bridge we turned right off the tow path along a snow covered paved path passed houses on our left. Just before the paved path began to bend to our right we stepped off the left hand side of the paved path.

Stepping off the paved path to head down to the River Aire
Stepping off the paved path to head down to the River Aire

Heron on the river bank in the sunshine
Heron on the river bank in the sunshine

Turning right off the bridge to some steps down to the path along the bank of the River Aire
Turning right off the bridge to some steps down to the path along the bank of the River Aire

Footpath along the bank of the River Aire
Footpath along the bank of the River Aire

The structure of the A6120 bridge over the River Aire
The structure of the A6120 bridge over the River Aire

Continuing along the footpath by the River Aire
Continuing along the footpath by the River Aire

From the ring road bridge we continued along the river bank path with a railway line to our left and the river to our right. After about 600m where the river bank path was at the foot of a steep bank up to our right. The path turned to our left away from the river through a steel kissing gate, climbing up a bank with a stone wall and some trees on our left between us and the railway.

Immediately across the bridge we turned right down some steps to a path along the bank of the River Aire heading downstream. After about 200m along the river bank we passed back under the Leeds ring road, A6120. The supporting structure was an elaborate arrangement of concrete beams, arches and struts.

The structure of the A6120 bridge over the River Aire
The structure of the A6120 bridge over the River Aire

Continuing along the footpath by the River Aire
Continuing along the footpath by the River Aire

Continuing along the footpath by the River Aire
Continuing along the footpath by the River Aire

Steel kissing gate where the pathturned away from the River Aire
Steel kissing gate where the path turned away from the River Aire

Following the path up the slope away from the River Aire
Following the path up the slope away from the River Aire

The path to the bridge over the railway
The path to the bridge over the railway

After another 100m the path turned left onto a bridge crossing the railway. The access track over the railway led us out into a housing estate where we turned right along Newlaithes Road.

We walked up over the bank next to the wall. About 100m from the top of the bank we came to another steel kissing gate in the wall on our left and from this gate the path continued on the other side of the wall.

From the gate the path continued on the other side of the wall
From the gate the path continued on the other side of the wall

Bridge over the railway to Newlaithes Road
Bridge over the railway to Newlaithes Road

Walking along Newlaithes Road towards the junction with Newlay Lane
Walking along Newlaithes Road towards the junction with Newlay Lane

Nearing the junction with Newlay Lane
Nearing the junction with Newlay Lane

Following Newlay Lane down to the River Aire
Following Newlay Lane down to the River Aire

The steps led onto Newlay Lane cutting off the corner. We walked down the steps to join Newlay Lane and we followed Newlay Lane down the hillside to Newlay Bridge over the River Aire.

We walked along Newlaithes Road for about 400m to its junction with Newlay Lane. Just before the road junction there were some steps down to our left.

Turning right off Newlaithes Road  down the steps to Newlay Lane
Turning right off Newlaithes Road down the steps to Newlay Lane

Newlay Bridge over the River Aire from Newlay Lane
Newlay Bridge over the River Aire from Newlay Lane

The wier on the River Aire just downstream of Newlay Bridge
The weir on the River Aire just downstream of Newlay Bridge

River Aire upstream of Newlay Bridge
River Aire upstream of Newlay Bridge

Following the road from Newlay Bridge over the railway
Following the road from Newlay Bridge over the railway

Another 100m further on we came to the bridge over the canal. We did not cross the canal but instead we turned left off the road to a little area by the canal with a wall that provided a reasonable place to sit for our lunch.

From the bridge there was a wide, still reach of the river on our right that was caused by the weir across the river on the left side of the bridge. About 100m beyond the bridge we crossed back over the railway.

Heading towards Pollard Lane from Newlay Bridge
Heading towards Pollard Lane from Newlay Bridge

Area off the road by the canal where we stopped for our lunch
Area off the road by the canal where we stopped for our lunch

Joining the canal tow path to head back under the bridge towards Rodley Nature Reserve
Joining the canal tow path to head back under the bridge towards Rodley Nature Reserve

From the bridge there were many canal boat moorings
From the bridge there were many canal boat moorings

Swan ready to step off the ice into some open water
Swan ready to step off the ice into some open water

We walked under the road bridge that crossed the canal and from the bridge there was along line of canal boats moored on the far side of the canal. Most of the canal was still frozen over but there were a few patches clear of ice where the ducks and swans were gathered.

After our lunch we joined the canal tow path and turned right to walk along the tow path back towards the Rodley Nature Reserve. On this bright sunny day the tow path was a popular place with walkers, joggers and cyclists.

The ducks had found a small area of open water
The ducks had found a small area of open water

More canal boat moorings
More canal boat moorings

About 1km from our lunch stop we passed this swing bridge across the canal
About 1km from our lunch stop we passed this swing bridge across the canal

Tow path by the frozen canal heading back to the nature reserve
Tow path by the frozen canal heading back to the nature reserve

Just before this bridge there was a high gantry carrying cables across the canal. Just beyond this swing bridge was the entrance to the Rodley Nature Reserve on our right.

About 1km from our lunch stop we passed another swing bridge over the canal. We continued our way along the tow path for another kilometre to the next swing bridge.

Tow path by the frozen canal heading back to the nature reserve
Tow path by the frozen canal heading back to the nature reserve

Gantry over the canal by Moss Bridge over the canal opposite the entrance to the Rodley Nature Reserve
Gantry over the canal by Moss Bridge over the canal opposite the entrance to the Rodley Nature Reserve

Entrance to Rodley Nature Reserve opposite Moss Bridge
Entrance to Rodley Nature Reserve opposite Moss Bridge

Following the access road to the nature reserve visitor centre
Following the access road to the nature reserve visitor centre

Following the path to visit the hides on the reserve
Following the path to visit the hides on the reserve

Frozen pond and not many birds
Frozen pond and not many birds

I did manage to get a photo of a snipe feeding in the grass by a pond seen from the last of the hides that we visited. From the last hide it was only a few metres back to the car park and the end of our walk. The whole route including our walk around the nature reserve was just under 8km. Including our lunch stop and our coffee at the visitor centre it had taken us about two and a half hours to walk. It had been a lovely morning in the winter sunshine, thanks Geoff.

We walked along the access drive to the nature reserve and followed the signs to the visitor centre & toilets. We stopped at the visitor centre for a coffee and a scone. Then we followed the surfaced path around the reserve from the visitor centre past a series of bird watching hides that looked out across the ponds next to the River Aire. The ponds were mostly frozen and there were few birds to be seen.

Following the access road to the nature reserve visitor centre
Following the access road to the nature reserve visitor centre

Calling at the visitor centre for a coffee & scone
Calling at the visitor centre for a coffee & scone

Thatched picnic area but a bit chilly today
Thatched picnic area but a bit chilly today

One of the hides looking out over the ponds
One of the hides looking out over the ponds

A snipe feeding in the grass in front of the last hide we visited
A snipe feeding in the grass in front of the last hide we visited

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