Looking for a route 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 Route 696 is for you.
The route provides a wonderful opportunity to explore part of the longest canal in Britain and encompasses both vibrant urban areas and beautiful countryside, taking you on a peaceful route from Leeds - firstly on the Aire Valley Towpath, then on the Airdale Greenway - out past numerous attractions.
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 take a rest stop here to visit the gallery and marvel at the fine architecture.
Things to see and do
- Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills – This was once one of the world’s biggest woollen mills, today it gives an insight into the city’s rich industrial heritage. Genuinely fascinating.
- Kirkstall Abbey - one of the best-preserved Cistercian monasteries in the country, with a brand new visitors centre to boot.
- West Wood at Calverley - Owned by the Woodland Trust, this beautiful wood defies description. All I can say is go and see it for yourself and be rendered similarly speechless.
- Five Rise Locks at Bingley - An 18th-century engineering masterpiece, these five locks 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.
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.
To make sure everyone gets the most out of their time by the water, please ensure you follow the Towpath Code.