- From - To: Leeds to Bingley
- Distance: 17 miles
- Terrain: Canal towpath. Surface is mostly good with some tarmac
- Access: Leeds, Shipley and Bingley Train Stations
- National Cycle Network: National Routes 66 and 69
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.
Things to see and do
- Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills
- Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds
- Abbey House Museum, Leeds
- West Wood, Calverley
- Saltaire World Heritage Site
- Five Rise Locks, Bingley.
The Aire Valley Towpath route provides a wonderful opportunity to explore part of the longest canal in Britain.