Looking for a day that takes in beautiful countryside, rich industrial history, stunning scenery, galleries, shops, museums, the longest canal in the country and even a world heritage site? Then it’s the Aire Valley Towpath for you!
With gentle gradients and smooth surfaces along the length of the route, you’ll find the route ideal if you want an easy day’s pedalling, or if you have small children or are a wheelchair user.
The Aire Valley Towpath route encompasses both vibrant urban areas and beautiful countryside, taking you on a peaceful journey through Leeds and out past Kirkstall Abbey, Bramley Fall, Rodley, Calverley Woods, Apperley Bridge, Buck Wood at Thackley, Shipley, Hirst Wood, Dowley Gap and the Three and Five Rise Locks at Bingley.
The Locks are an 18th century engineering masterpiece which operate as a 'staircase' flight in which the lower gate of one lock forms the upper gate of the next. When completed in 1774, thousands gathered to watch the first boats make the 60-foot descent. Now, over 200 years later, the flight is still in daily use.
The highlight along the route is Saltaire, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its preservation as a Victorian Industrial Village. Named for Sir Titus Salt, the area has many features, so be sure to stop and visit the gallery and many fine boutiques and antique shops, as well as marvelling at the fine architecture. Its also well worth stopping in at the Saltaire Brewery visitor centre, where a pint of Cascadian Black is recommended. Or two if it’s a cold day…
In 2004 we extended the Aire Valley Towpath to link to Crossflatts Primary School. You can see the effect it had in this video.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.