The Saltaire and Shipley Glen area contains some wonderful walks. Many have featured in this column over the years but this is one of my favourites.

It’s some years since I last walked it and even more since I wrote about it, so earlier this summer I decided to walk it again for old time’s sake and to see what, if anything, had changed.

I’ve been writing this column for nearly 21 years now. At the end of this year I shall be bowing out prior to retiring from the T&A at the end of January.

So in the weeks between now and then I plan to revisit some of the earlier walks and reacquaint myself with them – and hopefully introduce them to a more recent generation of readers.

Starting point for this walk, on a blue-sky sunny morning at the start of July, was the bottom of Victoria Road in Saltaire. It was a term-time Wednesday. The people who were around were either heading for their day’s lessons at Salts School, jogging along the towpath or taking their dogs for a walk.

We set off along the canal bank. A few ducks swam on the still waters. Others were perched on a becalmed leafy bough which had been brought down by the gales a few days earlier.

The landmark United Reformed Church glowed in the low sunlight as we strode past it towards Hirst Lock, past the tennis and bowling clubs and the football grounds.

By the lock we turned to cross the River Aire via the iron footbridge and walk up through what must be one of the most pleasantly-located council estates in the country (now largely privately-owned), to arrive at Higher Coach Road.

Here we turned left, and with fields and woodland rising on our right and the broad Aire Valley on our left, crossed Lode Pit Beck on the tarmac and then walked up the dirt road towards a distant gate.

Here, with a lodge beside it, was the entrance to Milner Field, a large area of woodland which once contained a fine mansion and was the home from 1871 of Titus Salt Jr, son of the Titus who founded Saltaire.

A footpath and then a track threads its way up through the estate between tall trees, passing the plateau where the house once stood. How sad that it was allowed to fall into disrepair and be demolished. Still, the lodges remain, and the gothic one at the northern end where the track emerges into Primrose Lane has recently been restored and looks magnificent.

We crossed the road and strolled up the pavement towards Gilstead. At the junction we followed the road to the right, walking past the recreation ground and envying the people in the houses across the road who enjoy a wonderful open view towards the moor, over Baildon and towards the distant south.

The road, as Gilstead Lane now, swung round towards The Glen pub which when our children were younger was one of the few places we could take them to enjoy a Sunday lunchtime drink because it had a beer garden in the days when they were rare, and a bowling green.

From the seats on the edge of the bowling green you could see an expanse of green fields. Now you can see houses.

We continued along the lane past the gates of some grand old houses to arrive at Sheriff Lane, which was and still is basically a farm track. It used to have fields on both sides. Now they are only on one.

Over the wall opposite Sheriff Farm are more new houses. But to the right of the lane things are as they always were. Cows with calves grazed against a backdrop of Shipley Glen woodland. The views from up here remain terrific.

We turned into Lode Pit Lane, still with its waterlogged potholes after a night of heavy rain, and followed it round past a line of houses and bungalows to meet Saltaire Road as it descends from Eldwick as a narrow, gloomy lane to the dead end of a lane just before the bridge over Lode Pit Beck.

We were now at one of the gateways to Shipley Glen and walked up the track to meet the path that runs between the road and rocky outcrops.

As we headed down past the Bracken Hall Countryside Centre we wondered at the height of the silver birch trees that had grown up from the valley bottom in the years since we first began visiting this place, and now reach for the heavens.

A stroll down the path beside the Glen Tramway took us back through Roberts Park to cross the river and arrive back at the start. Some things had changed along this route, but much had remained the same. It’s still a joy.

The route

1 From bottom of Victoria Road at Saltaire, join canal towpath and walk west towards Hirst Lock. At lock, go right through gap in wall and head for river, crossing via footbridge. Keep ahead at far side to pass between houses and arrive at Upper Coach Road.

2 Turn left and walk up lane to gate of Milner Field estate. Go through gate to right of lodge and walk up path/track through estate to restored lodge at northern end. Cross road (Primrose Lane) and walk up pavement to T-junction.

3 Cross road again and walk on right-hand pavement along Gilstead Lane past recreation area, continuing along it past farm on right when Warren Lane turns up to left. Keep on as road turns to pass The Glen pub on left. Ignore road going left between pub and its car park and continue to next left (still Gilstead Lane) and follow it to T-junction with Sheriff Lane.

4 Turn left and walk up past Sheriff Farm on right to soon go right into Lode Pit Lane. Follow this to its end and turn sharp right down narrow Saltaire Road to gate at bottom. Cross bridge.

5 Swing right with rising track, past “Jesus Saves” message on rock, then follow path between crags and road down to Shipley Glen. Walk down between houses to Glen Tramway, above, and go down path at side of it to meet Coach Road. Cross into Roberts Park and walk through it to cross river back to start.


START: Bottom of Victoria Road, Saltaire.

Time for four-mile walk: two hours.

Going: easy.

Map: OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield or Bradford A-Z Street Atlas.

Toilets: at Saltaire and Old Glen House pub on Shipley Glen.

Refreshments: ditto.