Leeds to Saltaire
12. Leeds to Saltaire (15 miles one way) - This route makes use of the tow path on the Leeds - Liverpool Canal and utilising the Airedale train service starting from Leeds City Centre and finishing at Saltaire with a return by train from either Saltaire or Shipley. Whilst up to two bicycles are permitted on the trains on off peak services this is not enforced and there is normally plenty of room. From the Wharfedale line it is possible to travel outward on the Ilkley-Leeds service returning from Shipley on the Bradford line. The surface is generally good having been upgraded in parts as part of a major Sustrans route. There are a couple of escape routes to avoid going under low bridges with narrow footways.
From Leeds station it is necessary to proceed into City Square and then turn sharp backwards down Neville Street passing under the railway lines. Whilst under the bridge turn right into the Dark Arches and bear right into a carpark immediately coming out the other end of the arches. The tow path is accessed on the right hand side of the canal.
There are many points of interest along the way the first being the old stone bridge which once carried trains to Central Station, the passing the industrial museum at Armley. The route quickly becomes rural passing the perimeters of Bramley and Kirkstall. At Rodley there is a new wetland wildlife reserve. Public houses with plenty of boat activity can be found at Rodley including the Barge and a little way further along the Railway. Just behind the pub is the old stone bridge which once carried the 'main road' across the River Aire and now closed to traffic.
The route continues around Calverley eventually to pass through Apperley Bridge and a new marina development. At Shipley the remains of the old Bradford Canal can be seen, now a dead end. It is worth carrying on to Saltaire with Salts Mill the Shipley Glen Tramway and a number of shops. It is even possible to go on to Bingley.
A useful leaflet is published by British Waterways and can be obtained through them or the tourist office. For further information also visit the website on www.britishwaterways.co.uk