A splendid little walk from Bingley along the Leeds-Liverpool visiting the famous Five Rise Locks before returning via Morton Beck and the village of Micklethwaite.
|Parking:||Bingley, car park|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
Casting about for ideas for a short family walk on the last day of the Christmas holidays I came across this route in Paul Hannon's guide 'Aire Valley: Short Scenic Walks'.
Having found a car park on Main Street in Bingley we crossed a bridge over the A650 and the canal to gain the canal towpath. Within minutes we'd reached the foot of the Three Rise Locks below the large Damart building with its tall chimney which is a major landmark in Bingley. At the top of the third lock we crossed over a bridge to the towpath on the opposite bank and continued heading west.
"Morton Beck is a lovely little stream with tiny waterfalls, seemingly a world away from the busy environs of the canal and indeed industrial Airedale."
While the Three Rise Locks were impressive they can't rival the Five Rise Locks just a bit further along the canal. A superb feat of engineering the Five Rise Locks raise the height of the canal by over 60ft and are one of the supposed Seven Wonders of the Waterways. I couldn't help but wonder how long it would take to get a barge up (or down) the locks.
From the Five Rise Locks we continued along the towpath passing a series of moored barges, my favourite of which was named 'Thor's Hammer'. After an enjoyable mile alongside the canal we finally left it at the Morton Swing Bridge to take a path dropping down to Morton Beck which we crossed at a footbridge.
The next section, as we followed Morton Beck upstream, was an unexpected delight. Morton Beck is a lovely little stream with tiny waterfalls, seemingly a world away from the busy environs of the canal and industrial Airedale. After passing an old mill pond we followed the stream a bit further before taking an enclosed path climbing up to the village of Micklethwaite.
Entering Micklethwaite at the colorful little corner of High Fold we walked up to the village green where we stopped for a breather on a bench enjoying the views over the village and across the valley. Carrying on we passed Highlady Farm to reach another enclosed path. Called Wood Lane this weaved a lovely way below the woods with more grand views across the valley towards the steep woods containing Druid's Altar.
Wood Lane eventually brought us to a bend on Greenhill Lane. Turning left on this we followed the footpath up the steep road to reach a road junction. Here we turned off on a path through a sliver of woodland for a pleasant descent, only briefly having to re-enter suburbia. Eventually we arrived at Beck Lane, turning right on this we followed the road round until it brought us back to the Five Rise Locks.
After enjoying a bite to eat in the popular Five Rise Locks Cafe all that remained was for us to retrace our earlier steps down past the Five Rise and Three Rise locks and back into the centre of Bingley.
While I always enjoy a walk along a canal I was actually quite surprised at how enjoyable this walk was and the short section along Morton Beck in particular was a real gem. After this I'll certainly aim to do more walks in this part of Airedale in the next year.