Saltaire, West Yorkshire Sunday 26th January 2014

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Chris Connor   Distance: 11 miles, height 394m

A walk of many contrasts. We set off from Saltaire along the Leeds – Liverpool canal to Bingley. We then start the climb up past the moss lined walls and woodland of Altars Lane to climb to the intriguingly named ‘Druid’s Altar’. After a moment to take in the view we then proceed higher onto the moor, past heather glen and onto the modest but mystical Harden Moor with its man made rock sculptures. We then start our descent onto the Millennium Way past the Cottingley viaduct and onto Saltaire for well earned refreshments.

Moderate Leader: Peter Denton   Distance: 8.2 miles

We will do our climbing at the start of the walk. When I say start I mean Up and downs and smidgin of mud ’til we have lunch Up at ‘Five Locks’.. Then a nice steady ramble along the canal back to Saltaire for tea and scones. Enjoy your day. Happy rambles.

Leisurely Leader: Sue Daniels   Distance: 6.5 miles

We start off with a delightful meander through the Grade ll listed Roberts Park and then a short gradual climb past the Glen Railway. We then take the flat paths along Shipley Glen and Trench Woods heading towards Clovershaw Beck where we can cut across farmland and down to Eldwick Beck. There is a pub here and, if the weather is bad, it may be possible to take cover (landlord permitting!). If weather is good then we will stop on top of the moors with extensive views all around. Then it’s easy walking along grassy paths and tracks where we drop down into a residential area making our way to the canal towpath and the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks. The final stretch is a joy as you meander beneath trees beside the canal to end up back in Saltaire.

Easy Leader: Derek Lee   Distance: 6.25 miles

This walk will in general follow the River Aire to Bingley Lower (3-rise) Locks, and return following the canal. Depending on conditions on the day, we can extend up to the famous 5-rise locks (an extra half mile or so) or cut corners and make the walk shorter. Only one climb of 100 feet through Hirst Wood today. Please bear with me – I have filled a vacancy and have not recce’d this walk.

Notes On The Area

Saltaire’s founder was Sir Titus Salt, a Victorian industrialist and patriarch, who already owned six textile mills in Bradford. He made a considerable fortune from spinning alpaca fleece and, seeing the smoky, Dickensian squalor or life in the city, he decided to build a new settlement for his employees. Sir Titus designed Saltaire as a community where his workers could live in clean, sanitary conditions. Begun in 1851, it was 20 years in the making. As a contrast to many areas of Bradford, even the most modest dwelling in Saltaire had gas, running water and a toilet. In his plan, Sir Titus included schools, a bathhouse, laundry, hospital and a row of almshouses. A workers’ dining room could seat 800 and was available for people to bring their own food and have it cooked or they could purchase tea or coffee at half a penny, a bowl of soup for 1d or a plate of meat for 2d.The neat streets of terraced houses were named after the founder (Titus Street), his wife Caroline, and children – not forgetting the reigning monarch (Victoria Street) and her consort (Albert Road).

The centrepiece of his scheme was Salts Mill, a monumental example of industrial architecture which straddles the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The chimney is a copy of the bell tower of a church in Venice. In recent years the mill has enjoyed a new lease of life as a showcase for the artworks of David Hockney, who was born in Bradford. There are no Public Houses within the confines of the village, and the Club and Institute was erected to cater for the moral and physical welfare of the community. Its cost was £25,000. There were reading rooms, a library and a lecture theatre. A school of art was situated on the upper floors along with a room with four billiard tables. The area between Edward Street and Albert Street marks the site of the Public Wash House which was opened on 6th July 1863. There were 24 baths, 12 for men and 12 for women and a turkish bath. Steam came from an 18ft long by 6 ft Cornish boiler and three steam engines drove 6 washing machines. Drying and mangling facilities were also provided.

Shipley Glen is a typical Pennine gill, or ravine, and can be reached by The Shipley Glen Tramway, a rope-hauled passenger-carrying railway dating from 1895, which operates most weekends throughout the year. The open cars are hauled by cable 386 yards up a 1-in-12 incline beneath overhanging trees. There were originally many amusements at the summit and even today quite a number of children’s rides and entertainments can be enjoyed.

Roberts Park, on the other side of the canal, is another example of early town planning. A splendid bronze statue of Sir Titus Salt was erected in 1903 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. It stands on a plinth decorated with an angora goat and an alpaca, symbols of the wool industry on which he built his very considerable success.

The Leeds-Liverpool Canal is Britain’s longest inland waterway. Begun in 1770, it was soon superseded by the railway, but is much used today by pleasure craft. Two impressive pieces of engineering in the Bingley area are the stepped Three Rise Locks, and Five Rise Locks where boats passing along the canal rise or fall 60 feet over a distance of 320 feet.