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Shipley Glen - From Victorian tourist attraction to country park

Walk Summary
Distance:About two and a half miles
Difficulty: moderate - on paths but can be a bit muddy
Start: Saltaire
Time: 1 hour
Dogs: Perfect dog walking country
Shipley Glen Tramway

Shipley Glen - a circular walk

Back in the day Shipley Glen was possibly THE tourist attraction in West Yorkshire. You wouldn't believe that from visiting nowadays because there's nothing left, but on a bank holiday wekend this place would be teeming.

And just to prove it here's a film from Easter Weekend 1912

The walk starts from anywhere in Saltaire, and it makes a nice way to finish the day after looking round the village. Hint - it's a lot easier to park at the foot of Shipley Glen than it is in Saltaire.

From Saltaire, cross the pedestrian bridge over the Aire. The mill on the right is New Mill, which is now partially occupied by the NHS and partially converted into posh flats. I've been to meetings there a couple of times, and I have to say the NHS really know how to choose offices.

From the bridge, walk through Roberts Park, or better still have a good look round it as there's a major refurbishment programme going on and it should look brilliant by the time it's finished. Admire the Holly Trees (Titus Salt was a collecter) and emerge on the far side of the park.

Shipley Glen Tramway Opposite is a very large school. And to the right of the school a large cream coloured wooden shed which is the terminus of the Shipley Glen Tramway. Wander over to this, and then decide if you want to walk up through the Bluebell woods or catch the tram.

The tramway was built in 1895 and travels for nearly a whole 400 yards. There are two cars linked by an endless steel cable, so as one car goes down the other goes up - just like those funicular railways they have up the cliffs at Scarborough and Whitby. Last time I visited it had been closed for "elf n safety" reasons (I gather the insurers were demanding brakes were fitted)  but was targeted to reopen in early 2010. I hope it does because it's a lovely ride.  Support it if you can, because it's run by volunteers and they always need money.

Shipley Glen Pleasure Ground At the top of the tramway is where the pleasure ground used to be. All that's left now is the Dodgems. This funfair was the remnant of the Victorian funfair, and I remember as a child being terrified by the chair ride which went over the side of the glen. Even back in the 1960's it looked rickety, but it survived until the late 90's. My own kids went on it shortly before it closed and they too were deeply worried by it - not least because of the instruction yelled to all the riders "duck when you get to that bend or you'll bash your head on the steel girder". The same scary instruction I remembered from years before. Small wonder it closed - but such a shame it couldn't have been saved.

Shipley Glen House Pub But it's all gone now, so turn left and walk up Prod Lane for a couple of hundred yards until you reach open countryside.

This is Shipley Glen, the entrance to which is marked by The Old Glen House pub. Apart from being a pub, they also have a tea room in the car park, so all tastes catered for. It's quite an upmarket foodie pub nowadays - and while I've never eaten here the menu looked very promising and they had a couple of hand pulled beers on. On a hot afternoon it's a godsend, though you'll usually find an ice cream van parked a little further up the road.

Just at the back of the pub is a green lane which goes straight back down to Airedale. If you want to cut the alk really short, take this and then walk back along the road to Saltaire.

From here the Glen stretches away in front of you, with a flat bracken area in front, and the woods off to your left. The meeting between the two being marked with rocks all along the edge of the escarpment. There's great views out over Airedale.

Bracken Hall Countryside Centre Wandering along the top of the Glen, about halfway there's a building on the right which is the Bracken Hall Countryside Centre. Run by the council this is only ever open on an afternoon. In Summer it's open Wednesday to Sunday, in September, October and April it's Wednesdays and weekends, and in Winter, Wednesdays and Sundays. Naturally I picked a day when it wasn't open, which is a shame because it's quite good as I recall.

Last time I went there were good displays about the natural history of the area, and a lot of information about the Victorian era when it was the workers' playground for Bradford and the surrounding areas. 

Opposite the hall was an information board about The Dales Way which quite surprised me. I always thought it went from Ilkley to Windermere, but apparently there are extensions to Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate. You learn something every day.

Mill Dam To continue the walk, amble along the escarpment enjoying the views, and towards the end of the Glen, there's a path going back down towards the valley.  There's several paths in facty, and it doesn't really matter which you choose because they all lead through Trench Woods into the valley bottom. In the valley bottom is a beck. Follow this until you come to an old Mill Dam.

From here there are two choices:

1. continue following the beck through the woods, which eventually joins up with the green lane from the back of the pub. Then follow the green lane downhill to the road.

2. Cross the front of the dam, and go up the lane opposite until you get to the elaborate iron gate, then turn left and keep going downhill until you come into an unmetalled road and then follow that until you  get to the metalled road

So, and whichever route you took, you're now on a proper road along the valley bottom with the woods on the left and a council estate on the right. The easy way back from here is to walk along the road to Roberts Park and then cut through the park to Saltaire.

Alternatively, walk along the road to the bus turnaround and then go right down Bowland Avenue  towards the river. Cross the river (fear not for there is a bridge) and then walk back to Saltaire along the canal towpath.

And as the  Boathouse pub has now reopened, that's a great place to finish.

And, to finish, a few pictures of Shipley Glen

Shipley Glen Shipley Glen
Shipley Glen Shipley Glen
Shipley Glen Shipley Glen
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Comments (1)
where do i get photos of the glen house tea rooms .before renovation?pre 80s.
posted by gloria freear 24/09/2011 21:13:30
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