This cycle route, chosen as Stage 4 of the Sustrans Slow Tour of
Yorkshire, is from Keighley, along the towpath of the Leeds
& Liverpool canal, to Saltaire.
It's 6 miles one way, so 12 miles there and back. This is the
Sustrans leaflet for the ride.
I really enjoyed this ride. The canal is very picturesque, and
there are points of interest along the way, particularly the Five
Rise Locks at Bingley (where there is a good café). The destination,
Saltaire, is pleasant and interesting.
Because of the state of the towpath, it's really a mountain bike
ride; at the least, you need a gravel bike or a hybrid with off-road
tyres. The surface for most of the way is stones packed together,
with some mud; where there's tarmac, it's hopelessly potholed; and
just before Bingley, there's a stretch with a lot of standing water
I've got nothing against mountain biking, but I think a canal
towpath should be a consistent and reasonably smooth surface,
suitable for family bike rides. I have the strong impression that
cycling is grudgingly tolerated by the Canal & River Trust, and
they are terrified that if they put a half-decent surface down,
they'll be overrun by hordes of Simon Yates wannabees; in reality,
that's extremely unlikely.
Deteriorated towpath surface near Damart factory
Keighley to Saltaire cycle route: map
The map shows the route from Leeds to Saltaire in yellow.
Keighley to Saltaire cycle route: route notes
If you start from Keighley station, the route to the canal is ok,
but not well-signposted.
Turn right out of the station, and right again down Dalton Lane.
Pass Dalton Mills, and turn left down Worth Bridge Road.
Dalton Mills, Keighley
Part-way down Worth Bridge Road, the Airedale Greenway begins, as a
Start of Airedale Greenway, Keighley
The Airedale Greenway runs alongside the river Worth, then takes
you under the busy Aire Valley Road to Aireworth Grove. At the end
of Aireworth Grove, you turn left on Aireworth Road, and arrive at
the B6265 Bradford Road. Turn right onto it. It's a busy road.
There's a painted cycle lane: it's not too bad, because there's
plenty of width to the road, and even to the cycle lane, but it
would be better if there was physical protection (kerb or metal
Turn left on Bar Lane. Perhaps surprisingly, this is quite a steep
hill you have to go up to reach the canal.
Leeds & Liverpool canal, Keighley
Keighley to Bingley
Turn right onto the canal towpath. The first bit is rough, because
you pass behind houses: every house has a downpipe, and for every
downpipe there are cobbles for the rainwater to run over the towpath
and into the canal. They act like a series of extreme speed bumps.
A right turn on the first road that the canal crosses, Granby Lane,
would take you to East
Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust house and garden.
Go straight on, and the canal takes you past Crossflatts. Then, at
the northern edge of Bingley, you come to the major landmark (or
watermark) on this route, Five Rise Locks.
Five Rise Locks, Bingley
There's a café over the canal to your left, the Five Rise Locks Café.
I had scrambled egg on toast, and coffee. It was friendly service
and great grub - recommended.
Five Rise Locks café
It's steeply downhill alongside the Five Rise Locks. In the other
direction, going uphill, it's not quite Alpe d'Huez - mainly because
there are no hairpins - but you need to be in a low gear.
At Bingley, you go past the Damart building.
The canal continues around the edge of Bingley. Where it goes under
Primrose Lane/Dowley Gap Lane, the Fisherman's Inn is to your right.
The Fisherman's Inn, Bingley
Bingley to Saltaire
The next bridge has some age and character. You go over it, to ride
on the left hand side of the canal.
Bridge over the canal near Dowley Gap
Then comes Dowley
Gap. This aqueduct takes the canal (and towpath, and you) over
the river Aire. It's a seven arch structure, but you don't
necessarily get a view or an impression of it from the canal towpath
- you'd have to go down to river level.
It's only a short way now to Saltaire,
the destination of this ride.
Roberts Park, Saltaire
It's quite a short ride, so it is definitely one that can easily be
done there and back. Return by the way you came.
All photos © Hedgehog Cycling
Leeds to Saltaire cycle route: comments and suggestions
This is an enjoyable ride, with Five Rise Locks providing a real
point of interest. Because of the surface, it's really a mountain
bike route, and it would be made more family-friendly by putting in
a smoother, consistent surface.