If you go for a walk in autumn, take a polythene bag with you. That's a lesson we should have learned years ago. Yet each year we get taken by surprise, chancing upon fields dotted with mushrooms or bushes heavy with blackberries and having nothing to put them in.

This year it was blackberries ... and blackberries galore, at that. We passed them in the early stages of our mid-October walk but didn't have a bag between us. Very frustrating.

We had decided that for once we would not seek out the field paths. There's a lot of interest to be experienced by strolling along suburban pavements, up snickets and down old, well-worn paved tracks and country lanes.

We began in the north Bradford village of Thackley, heading down the attractive, tree-lined Ainsbury Avenue past the cricket and football grounds.

This is a private road but a permissive bridleway and footpath as it descends through Thackley Woods into Yorkshire Water territory to the swing bridge near the entrance to Esholt Sewage Works.

From here we followed the towpath westwards, past the locks and under the old works railway bridge then alongside a very pleasant stretch of the canal with fields and woods on the left. On the right, below us, was the River Aire in its green valley, the peace marred slightly by the ever-present hiss and rumble of traffic on Otley Road, climbing Hollins Hill.

At the Buck Woods swing bridge we turned north towards the century-old iron bridge over the river. And it was there, on the site of the long-demolished Buck Mill next to the remains of the cobbled track, that we spied the blackberries. Over the bridge came the only field path of the outing, past the splendid nature reserve created by N.D. Marston alongside their extended works off Otley Road. We made a detour to take a look at it, and found it maturing nicely.

Soon we were on pavements again, making our way past the striking wooden church of St James and then up into the heart of fast-growing Baildon via residential roads and steep snickets. From there we headed for the moors, initially along the dog-dirt minefield of Jenny Lane.

Once on the open moor, we enjoyed the panoramic views (while keeping one eye open for flying golf balls, because this is a popular course) before striking up over the top to descend towards Shipley Glen – a beauty spot of which I never tire.

Our return route took us into the heart of Baildon village via the pavements of Lucy Hall Drive and West Lane, admiring the houses as we went.

There we had a call to pay: at the village Co-op for a packet of freezer bags. Those blackberries might have been spared on the way out, but we were determined to bag them on the way back from this pleasant and varied outing

Step by Step

  1. Leave Thackley via Ainsbury Avenue, with cricket ground on left and, soon, football field on right. After a mile, cross canal bridge, turn left and walk on the next swing bridge (Buck Bridge). Turn right here and cross river.
  2. Across iron bridge, turn sharp left upstream then swing right just before gate that leads into nature reserve. Follow path up field side to road. Cross, then turn left and walk on pavement to pass wooden church. Turn right up Kirklands Lane. Keep ahead at junction and on to cross railway just past row of attractive cottages on right. Keep on up Kirklands Road to Station Road.
  3. Cross road and then turn left, looking on right for entrance to Flower Mount. Walk up drive, continuing through stile to left of gate and up snicket. At top keep on climbing towards church, going to right of Scout hut and climbing steps into churchyard. Go through churchyard to road.
  4. Turn right to crossroads, then left to pass school. At top of road, keep ahead up Jenny Lane, passing cricket and rugby ground on right and continuing along footpath to stile. At narrow road on moor-edge, turn left and walk on to junction. Cross and walk ahead alongside Bingley Road, climbing to car park. Cross road, heading on to moor but following right-hand climbing track. On plateau, follow right-hand track that skirts it, enjoying views, with Dobrudden caravan site on left.
  5. With corner of Dobrudden site above, turn right and descend steep path to start of track to Crook Farm caravan site. From here walk down road to Shipley Glen (or cut across moor corner if it isn't too boggy). Keep on alongside road towards houses, passing Bracken Hall Countryside Centre.
  6. Turn left into Lucy Hall Drive, which becomes West Lane as it nears Baildon. Follow road right into village centre. Cross road and from roundabout head up Hallcliffe, past Ian Clough Hall and church to descend again to junction. Cross, then go half right and walk down Old Lalgley Lane. At bottom go right, between modern bungalows and cornerways cottage, look for entrance to snicket known as Silson Lane and follow it down to Roundwood Road.
  7. Keep ahead down Roundwood Road to cross railway bridge (mind traffic!) and continue to Otley Road. Cross with care to lane opposite to return to iron bridge over river. Walk up to canal and cross swing bridge. Climb ancient cobbles past Afghan hound sanctuary that overlooks bridge, turning left up steps near entrance through wood to houses. Keep on up hill back to start.

Fact File

  • Time: four hours for ten miles.
  • Going: quite easy apart from a couple of steepish pulls.
  • Maps: OS Landranger 104 Leeds & Bradford or OS Pathfinders SE03/13 Bradford and SE 04/14 Keighley and Ilkley.
  • Parking: by road side at bottom of Ainsbury Avenue, Thackley, or in Park Road alongside Methodist Chapel.
  • Getting to start: from Thackley Corner crossroads, go down Thackley Road. When chapel is on right, Ainsbury Avenue is the rising road directly opposite. The 640 buses run to Thackley corner from Shipley and from Hall Ings.
  • Refreshments and toilets: in Baildon village and at Shipley Glen.