A WEST Yorkshire writer and artist has produced an annotated book of woodland walks in the Bradford district.

From small pockets to large swathes, Bradford is rich in woodland. Chris Goddard has mapped areas from well-trodden St Ives and Shipley Glen, to smaller, lesser-known woods including Buck Wood in Thackley and Chellow Dene off Haworth Road.

Heaton Woods, Goit Stock Wood in Harden and Shipley’s Hirst Wood are among those featured in this charming publication which focuses on the Aire Valley.

“Woodland is often very well-preserved,” says Chris. “Hidden in the trees you can find historic features such as wells, old tracks and sometimes the trees themselves are of historic interest.

“Goit Stock Wood, for example, does not look like much on a map but when you go there it is incredible. Buck Wood in Thackley does not look like a big area but you can get lost in it, and it contains all sorts of interest, including prehistoric stones.

“I found that wherever you go there is always more to it than meets the eye. I look into the history of the woodland - why certain trees have been planted in certain places, as well as information on the wildlife, birds and plants you may find there. I have mapped the different types of tree - beech, oak, birch and so on, using different symbols. I try to reveal as much as I can about these spaces.”

Luckily, Chris was able to spend time in City Library before lockdown, where he was able to carry out additional research. He has printed out small areas of 1850s OS maps, which hold details of historic markers and sites.

He adds: “A lot has been written about settlements, mills and more urban settings, but woods are often overlooked.

“I mapped woods on the sides of ghylls, and quite often the areas are right on the edge of an urban settlement or an industrial area - it is amazing how quickly you leave it behind.” One of his favourite walks is from Saltaire over to Chellow Dene via Northcliffe and Hirst Wood.

“The woods are all very different - in Cottingley Woods there is lots of spruce and larch. It is a very different character to ancient oak woodland like in Shipley Glen. In some woods you can go from one area with lots of holly to a bank of beech and it can have a completely different feel.”

He adds: “You can walk in a wood and it can feel different day to day or month to month depending upon the season and weather - there’s a difference in vegetation and light. You can also walk just a few meters off the path and find something you have never seen before.”

Some patches of woodland can be seen as area where rubbish is dumped and kids hang out, he says, “but when you enter them you find they are really nice.”

The walks, which he did with his dog Alfie are generally between seven and eight miles.

The accompanying cartographical drawings and sketches, he says, came out of necessity. “I never considered myself an artist or drawer but the books needed it. I think I have got better at it, and people really like them.”

Chris, who is based in Hebden Bridge, has been interested in maps from a young age. “I have always drawn maps and as a child I would make maps of my local woods. That came naturally to me. When we went out as a family, I always did the navigating.”

The West Yorkshire Woods Part ll: The Aire Valley is his fourth book, following on from South Yorkshire Moors, West Yorkshire Moors and West Yorkshire Woods Part l: Calderdale.

“The first wood walk book stretched to Shelf Woods south of Bradford, and anything that flows into the Calder and south of Todmorden - the landscape that surrounds my home.”

Born in Sheffield, Chris had been working in the Lake District surveying public footpaths for the National Park Authority. He then took on a similar role in Yorkshire and has worked for various local authorities.

“I ended up working in West Yorkshire, including Calderdale,” he says. “I was working on the moors above Hebden Bridge when I realised that what was on the OS map was not really helpful and a lot of the features were often different. or confusing.

“I thought I could map it out,” he says, adding that that he though he could enhance people’s enjoyment by adding details about prehistoric sites, ancient stones and other interesting features. “I started to research such features and find out more about them. I find out about local history, including folklore and the origin of certain names.”

After focusing on moorland he turned his attention to woods. More than 20 suggested walks are included, all accessible by public transport.

*The West Yorkshire Woods Part ll: The Aire Valley is published by Gritstone Publishing.