A short but hugely enjoyable little walk alongside Springs Canal and into the delightful surrounds of Skipton Castle Woods.
|Parking:||Car Park, Coach Street|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
This was our first family walk since New Year's Day. My plan had been to drive out to Gargrave for a walk up to the trig point on Haw Crag. However, though it was very sunny it was also extremely hazy. Indeed it was barely possible to make out anything more than a few miles away. It was thus almost at the last moment, as we approached Skipton, that I decided that we would instead do a woodland walk instead.
Parking at the car park just off Coach Street we ignored the main Leeds - Liverpool canal to the south of the car park. Instead our route took us along the small branch canal called Springs Canal. The Springs Canal was a short private canal built by the owner of Skipton Castle at the time, the Earl of Thanet, in 1774. The purpose of the canal was to transport quarried limestone to the main Leeds - Liverpool canal. There are three handily placed information boards alongside the towpath detailing the history of the canal and the surrounding area.
"Turning to the right we walked down alongside Eller Beck. This soon morphed into the more controlled Long Dam the still surface of which reflected the trees quite beautifully."
Almost from the start the canal path was squeezed between the canal on our right and Eller Beck on our left. After passing below Mill Bridge and then High Corn Mill the path was on a very narrow embankment separating both water courses. Curving around the back of Skipton Castle the canal soon came to an end.
Continuing on we crossed Eller Beck at a footbridge, turned right around the back of some houses and came to the entrance of Skipton Castle Woods. Managed by the Woodland Trust, Skipton Castle Woods is a rare and ancient woodland with over a thousand years of history. There are a number of short way-marked trails. The one we chose was the red waymarked 'Earl of Thanet Trail'. This took us past a superb weaved art sculpture called the 'Spirit of the Medieval Hunter'. To the left of the path was a mill race and down below to our right was Eller Gill.
Coming to a junction just before Long Dam and Round Dam we took the steep steps up the side of Sougha Gill. Before climbing up note the fine man made waterfall at the foot of Long Dam. Climbing up to the upper path we continued on a broad path to pass another weaved art installation called 'The Stalking Horse'. Shortly after the path dropped down to cross a bridge with the A59 above through the trees.
Turning to the right we walked down alongside Eller Beck. This soon morphed into the more controlled Long Dam the still surface of which reflected the trees quite beautifully. Coming to another junction before Round Dam we took the option climbing up to the left. This took us along the edge of the woods to bring us out alongside a fine display of snowdrops.
Turning right along the road we walked past the entrance to Skipton Castle (well worth a visit if you've not been). We then had a little walk around the Holy Trinity Church some of which dates to the early part of the 14th century. The church features some fine stained glass windows, a medieval font and the tombs of the Clifford family.
From the church we walked down the High Street before cutting down Sheep Street to our right. We then passed through on to Albert Terrace back to Coach Street. Finally, we ended the walk, as all good visits to Skipton should, with lunch at the Skipton Pie and Mash Shop. Yum yum!