Skipton to Saltaire canal walk – A Britain’s Favourite walk!

The Skipton to Saltaire canal walk was featured on ITV’s Britain’s 100 favourite walks, with Julia Bradbury. Last year, me and a friend did the Yorkshire three peaks challenge and fancied trying another long walk. I’ve got a wish list of long distance walks I would like to try, but this one is achievable in a day being just over 15 miles in length. The West Highland Way will have to wait till I have a week to do it, and someone mad enough to come with me!

We started our journey from Bradford and caught the Dales Bus, a special summer service, that eventually goes to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Our journey was nearly 2 hours and took us to Skipton bus station.

I didn’t think I would find canals confusing, this one splits three ways and I admit being a little disoriented to begin with. The route we were using was on the Ordnance Survey app and it quickly warned me we were headed the wrong way! Phew, didn’t make it as far as the Lake District. Back on track and we could take in the serene beauty of the canal, the slow pace of the narrow boats and gorgeous little ducklings we came across. My friend saw a crocodile, but I think that was down to heat delirium. The heat was intense and there were a lot of exposed sections of the canal where you’re open to the elements.

We made good progress at first, enjoying watching the three herons we saw hunting for fish. I’m convinced it was the same one just making it further up the canal faster than us! Little did we know there was a surprise in store for us.

Near Silsden there was a barrier across the tow path at one of the bridges. No explanation or signs, but no way through either. No problem, we’ll just get up to the road and down the other side I thought. We were able to walk through some back streets up to the road and the bridge over the canal to see if we could make it down the other side. Except there wasn’t a way down!

I had packed the paper OS map just in case, but we looked on the app and I was able to find a diversion that would take us back to the canal further down.

It was quite a walk and frustrating, especially as we came to another sign with a diversion that took us to, yes you guessed it, another tow path closure sign. We walked down this tiny country lane with blind corners and were relieved to see a public footpath. This took us across a field, with beck jumping and inquisitive cows but led us back to the tow path. We were back on track, but the little diversion had added nearly two miles and my legs were really beginning to feel it. I couldn’t understand, I had walked further than this before, up three mountains and across some of the Great wall of China. The walk along the canal should have been easier, surely.

The miles dragged on and we spotted a pub for a much-needed comfort break! The plan had been to walk a little further than Saltaire and stop at Saltaire Brewery further down the canal. However, we were both now walking like little old ladies and I despite the lure of a cold pint we decided to stick with the original route.

My kids and Husband ran towards us on the outskirts of Saltaire, we were stripped of our backpacks and walked the last mile with a support crew and excited chatter. I have never been so pleased to crawl into a waiting car.

A beautiful long and eventful walk, but I think my legs like different terrains and a few hills to keep them happy.


With the diversion we ended up walking nearly 17 miles! Our top tip would be to check the Canal River Trust’s website to check for towpath closures. This closure at Silsden is to last until 20th July 2018.

To see the walk featured on Britain’s favourite walk you can find it here on the Outdoor guide website.

Have you done this walk? Or do you have a long-distance walk planned? Let me know in the comments.

12 comments Add yours
  1. Sounds like you had an unexpected adventure! I do love seeing local wildlife, however, am a very amateur walker so will have to start building it up slowly before talking 17 miles 🙂 You’ve inspired me to give it go though! Lisa x

    1. Oh good, that’s great to hear! It took a while to get up to being able to do a few miles but I love being outside now. Thanks for reading x

    1. I’ve recovered thank you! With the weather getting hotter I think we did it on the right week. It really is pretty though.

  2. I’ve never done this walk and until quite recently hadn’t actually walked that much along canals. However, that changed when I did the Llangollen section of the Offa’s Dyke Path and loved it, so I’ll definitely bear this one in mind. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling we open again for new posts in the morning.

    1. I think canal walks are lovely and peaceful and a change from hills and mountains, although my legs prefer the hills! If you ever do this one give me a shout, I’ll direct you to the brewery! thanks for reading.

  3. I love a canal walk, although I’ve never done one this long. It’s a shame that there was a diversion, that’s always annoying when you’re doing a long walk and it’s hot! Well done for doing it, I’m trying to decide on a challenge for next year so this is great inspiration. Thanks for sharing #AdventureCalling

    1. It’s a beautiful walk but so long! My legs prefer a few hills and dips to keep them happy, but I like a challenge too.

  4. Got this one planned for tomorrow. Train up to Skipton, potter around the castle for a short time, fill up on tea and scones and then the 15.5mile walk back to Saltaire. Maybe call in Riddleston for more tea and scones 😁. Weather’s supposed to be ok-ish. I’ll be sure to check out the link you posted about diversions, so thanks for that advice.

    1. How did you get on? we should have filled up on tea and scones first too. I’m sure it will have been a lot cooler than when we went! I bet the turning autumn colours will have been lovely.

      1. Hi Emma, it was a lovely walk. The temperature was about 16°c, so perfect for walking in. You were right about the legs getting sore.

        If anyone is interested in doing this walk, it’s a long long walk. Wear good footwear!! I was wearing my doc martens, it was very unpleasant by the time I got to Saltaire. Take plenty to drink and maybe some music to listen to, the noise from the A road at the start is annoying.

        I’m gonna have another crack at it this week 😁

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