The Ride Starts at Guiseley Station which is one stop from Leeds station on the Ilkley Line, getting you nicely out of the city and close to the Sustrans cycle route along the Leeds Liverpool Canal towards Skipton. Our destination is the Skipton Folk Unplugged club. It’s the red route on this map:
It’s a short and relatively easy ride for the first day, starting about midday to allow time to travel to the start by train, we came from Sheffield, about 90 minutes away, allowing a coffee break at Leeds station.
The first two or three miles was a bit tricky, along main roads with quite a lot of traffic, but at least most of it was downhill until Baildon where we turned onto the track leading to the canal. A short push up the rough track and we were on a level towpath with reasonably good surfaces, part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.
We took a breather to watch a boat coming up through a lock and then set off. It’s a very attractive and relaxed route, Olivier was stuck by the way the canal ran along the contours quite high on the valley side so giving great views across Airedale as the urban landscape became more rural.
First stop was at Titus Salt’s monumental Alpaca Mill and utopian workers’ village at Saltaire. Olivier’s first introduction to the textile heritage of West Yorkshire. We had a walk round David Hockney’s work in one of the three galleries at Salt’s Mill, then lunch at the Saltaire Canteen, a community cafe with a ‘pay as you feel’ policy. The vegetarian haggis was delicious and much more colourful and healthy than the Scottish original.
Then along the canal to the famous Bingley 5-rise staircase of locks.
Afternoon tea at Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust Manor house on the outskirts of Keighley and just a few yards from the canal.
And on along the canal until the towpath became less friendly so we rode along the lanes through Silsden and Cononley to Skipton.
Bead and Breakfast at the Town House B&B in Skipton was cheap and adequate, but the English breakfast was the worst kind of fryup. Fried breakfasts are not ideal for cycling and when they are badly cooked they do lie heavy on the stomach.
Skipton Folk Unplugged, in the upstairs room of the Narrow Boat pub was a pleasure. It was a singers’ night and although the attendance was quite small (apparently they usually get a lot more people) we were warmly welcomed and heard some good music.