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Canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Canal boat holidays on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Enjoy stunning scenery, the Yorkshire Dales, Pennine Way, industrial history, remote beauty, rugged hills, wooded valleys, mills and moors.

At 127 miles, the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is the longest single canal in the country. Completed in 1816, this mighty waterway crosses the Pennines and links the wide waterways of Yorkshire with those of Lancashire and the River Mersey.

From the vibrant centres of Leeds, Liverpool, Wigan and Burnley, to the awe-inspiring vast areas of open space of the moorlands at the canal’s summit and the peace of the wooded Aire Valley, the scenery of this canal varies dramatically.

The Leeds & Liverpool main line has 93 locks and two tunnels, there are two more locks on the seven-mile long Leigh Branch and eight on the seven-mile Rufford Branch. The waterway was recently extended by the construction of the Liverpool Link, taking boaters right into the heart of the city, passing in front of the Three Graces to moor in Salthouse Dock.

And it boasts two of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’ – the famous Bingley Five Rise Locks near Bradford and the awesome Burnley Embankment, carrying the canal high above the town.

Weekend/3-night breaks from Silsden on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Skipton, Gargrave & the Yorkshire Dales and back (23 Miles, 6 locks, 12.5 hours)

Travelling in the direction of Liverpool along the canal from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale. A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit. Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub. Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village. Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

Bingley, Saltaire and back (18 Miles, 22 locks, 13.5 hours)

It takes around 3.5 hours to reach the top of the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.  On the way to Bingley from Silsden, you’ll pass through a series of swing bridges, Stockbridge and Riddlesden, with the National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall not far from the canal.  A few miles after Bingley, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage town Saltaire, near Shipley.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.  Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery.

Mid-week/4-night breaks from Silsden

East Marton and back (32 miles, 24 locks, 19 hours)

Follow the weekend route to Skipton and Gargrave then continue west to the historic market town of Barnoldswick.  This beautiful rural stretch along the Yorkshire Dales has mountain views in the distance.  At Bank Newton there are seven locks to travel through which take you up on to the Pennines.  Two-and-a-half miles later you’ll reach East Marton you’ll find the Abbot’s Harbour Restaurant and a medieval church. Continue on to turn soon after South Field Bridge no.159.

Week-long/7-day holidays from Silsden

Barnoldswick and back (38 miles, 30 locks, 22 hours)

Travelling in the direction of Liverpool along the canal from Silsden, you’ll first pass canalside warehouses, enjoying views of Airedale’s steep green hills.  There’s a series of historic swing bridges along this section of the canal, each needing to be unlocked and lifted.  Within two miles, the canal passes through the village of Kildwick, with its 17th century coaching inn, The White Lion.

Next you’ll continue along the valley of the River Aire, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  Two miles later the village of Bradley has an excellent pub – the Slaters Arms, serving homemade food and real ale. A mile later, the route passes the Bay Horse pub at Snaygill, before reaching the outskirts of Skipton.  Here a little arm (the Springs Branch) branches off the canal to moorings outside Skipton Castle.  Dating back to 1090, this motte and bailey castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in England, and is well worth a visit. Skipton also offers visitors a range of places to eat, including The Yorkshire Rose pub, Royal Shepherd, French Bistro des Amis, Bean Loved coffee bar and Cock & Bottle pub. Heading west out of Skipton, you’ll travel a further three miles through the hills to Gargrave.  There are three locks to pass through before reaching moorings and a winding hole in the centre of the village. Gargrave is on the River Aire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where you can access 680 square miles of some of England’s finest walking country.  In Gargrave there are plenty of pubs, including The Mason’s Arms.  There are also shops and a post office.

After Gargrave you’ll cruise alongside the Yorkshire Dales with mountain views in the distance. At Bank Newton there are seven locks to travel through which take you up on to the Pennines.  Two-and-a-half miles later you’ll reach East Marton you’ll find the Abbot’s Harbour Restaurant and a medieval church. After the three locks at Greenberfield you’ll reach Barnoldswick with a couple of large supermarkets within walking distance.  There’s a choice of places to eat, including The Fountain Inn. The Pendle Way connects to the canal at Cockshott Bridge no. 152.  Turn your boat at the winding hole just before Long Ing Bridge no.153.

Foulridge Tunnel & back (48 miles, 30 locks, 24 hours)

Follow the route above to Barnoldswick and continue on, soon reaching the canalside Anchor Inn at Salterforth.  Next it’s Foulridge Wharf before the entrance to the 1.49km long Foulridge Tunnel. Passage through the tunnel works on a traffic light system which allows each boat 20 minutes to get to the other end. After the tunnel, you can turn around just after Wanless Bridge no.145 to head back to Silsden.

Apperley Bridge and back (27 miles, 32 locks, 20.5 hours)

It takes around 3.5 hours to reach the top of the Bingley Five Rise locks, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways.  These cavernous chambers raise (or lower) boats 18 metres.  They open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom of the next. It takes around one-and-a-half hours to pass through and there are lock keepers on hand to help.  On the way to Bingley from Silsden, you’ll pass through a series of swing bridges, Stockbridge and Riddlesden, with the National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall not far from the canal.  A few miles after Bingley, you’ll reach the UNESCO World Heritage town Saltaire, near Shipley.  It was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the woollen industry.  Salt wanted his workforce to be healthier, happier and more productive, so he moved his five mills to a new green site away from the overcrowded town centre of Bradford.  The mills were housed in beautiful Italianate buildings. And he built stone houses for his workers with community facilities, including a hospital, library, school and park.  Today, Saltaire is a popular tourist destination with shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries, including the wonderful David Hockney Gallery. After Saltaire, you’ll go through Shipley with Ring O ’Bells pub and Waterside Restaurant & Bar.  Five miles later you’ll reach Apperley Bridge, with a fish and chip shop and choice of pubs including The Stansfield and Dog & Gun.  There’s also at café at the marina.

Leeds and back (44 miles, 54 locks, 32 hours)

Follow the route to Apperley Bridge and continue following the Aire Valley to Leeds.  You’ll pass through Rodley, home to the Canalside Rodley Barge pub, The Railway Inn and The Owl Inn. Soon after you’ll reach the canalside Abbey Inn and the three locks at Newlay.  Less than a mile later you’ll go through Forge three locks and then you’ll reach Kirkstall with Cistercian Abbey ruins and Abbey House Museum. The canalside West End House pub is next to Wyther Bridge no.223.  Cruise on into the vibrant waterside city of Leeds, and moor up in Leeds Dock.  From there you can visit the waterside Royal Armouries Museum and walk to visit the Victorian shopping arcades and many great places to eat out.

10-day route from Silsden

Burnley and back (63 miles, 44 locks, 32 hours)

Follow the week-long route to Foulridge Tunnel. Passage through the tunnel works on a traffic light system which allows each boat 20 minutes to get to the other end. A mile after the Foulridge Tunnel, you’ll encounter Barrowford Top Lock – a flight of seven – and begin your descent from the summit level, with views of old stone farms and distant mountains to enjoy. Soon after, Barrowford offers shops, fish & chips, restaurants and pubs, including The White Bear Inn.  At the Pendle Heritage Centre you’ll find an exhibition on the famous Pendle Witches.  There’s also a tea room overlooking the beautifully restored 18th century walled garden, the Pendle Art Gallery, and access to the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Pendle Hill. Continuing along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, you’ll enter the outskirts of the large industrial town of Burnley. The waterway was once the main artery for Burnley and its industries and the area around Bridge 130, known as the Weaver’s Triangle, is one of the best preserved 19th century industrial districts in the country.  The three-quarters of a mile long Burnley Embankment, considered to be one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’, carries the canal 60 feet high across part of the town, offering boaters panoramic views. There are plenty of pubs in Burnley, including The Inn on the Wharf in a weaver’s warehouse, several art centres and the Queen Street Mill Textile Museum, now Britain’s only working 19th century weaving mill. Turn at Burnley Wharf.

Two-week routes from Silsden

Wigan and back (135 miles, 72 locks, 60 hours)

Follow the route to Burnley.  After passing through Gannow Tunnel (559 yards long), the canal travels on through the Calder Valley and alongside the M65 motorway for a time. Hapton is the next village after Burnley, with its popular Hapton Inn.  Then you’ll go through three swing bridges as the canal travels through neat green fields bordered by drystone walls, before reaching Clayton-le-Moors (a suburb of Accrington) three miles later. The canal now twists and turns on through Church, with the parish church of St James right on the banks of the canal, marking the central point of the canal. Just over a mile later, after more dramatic bends, the canal passes over the M65 using a concrete aqueduct, before arriving at Rishton, a small town that grew up around the cotton mills in the 19th century. There’s a choice of places to eat here, including Indian restaurants, fish & chips, The Rishton Arms and The Walmsley Arms.

Two miles on and the canal enters the outskirts of Blackburn, passing canopied wharves at Eanam, now converted for businesses and a pub. There’s plenty to do in Blackburn, including a visit to the cathedral with its striking 13ft sculpture of ‘Christ the Worker’ by John Hayward. The Museum & Art Gallery has a series of rooms demonstrating the development of the textile industry using full size working models. And there’s a choice of curry houses, including Thira Restaurant. It takes several hours to pass through Blackburn, but there are distant views of Darwen Hill and Witton Country Park to enjoy along the way. And everywhere there are mills, mainly redundant but a reminder of the town’s cotton history. A flight of six locks (the Blackburn locks) carry the canal nearly 55ft up on the western edge of town to 400ft above sea level with excellent views. The suburb of Cherry Tree is next, with a good range of shops and take-aways.

As the canal leaves Blackburn, it crosses a high embankment and then curls round a steep and thickly wooded valley. A mile later, the canal passes through the village of Riley Green with its excellent Royal Oak pub providing award-winning cask ales and a large menu of British pub food. Hoghton Tower is close by, a 16th century fortified hilltop mansion, noted for its dungeons, doll’s houses, picturesque gardens and magnificent banqueting hall. Just over a mile and a half later, now in a secluded wooded valley, the canal passes through Withnell Fold, a small estate village built to house workers at the canalside paper mills which once functioned there. On the opposite side of the canal is a nature reserve which has developed in the old filter beds and now provides habitats for waterlilies, dragonflies, newts and frogs. Just over a mile of beautiful scenery later, you’ll reach the top of the Johnson’s Hill flight of seven locks.  The Top Lock pub is here and a boatyard with boaters’ facilities.

Soon after the canal travels under the M61 motorway and along the edge of Chorley, passing some large textile mills. The Prince of Wales pub is a short walk from Bridge 75A and The Lock & Quay. It’s also well worth visiting a bakery to try a Chorley cake, similar to the Eccles cake but sweeter and fruitier. Close to three wooded miles further, the canal reaches Adlington with a good range of shops, pubs, including The (Bottom) Spinners Arms, and a popular café at the White Bear Marina, Rivington. Here you can turn and head back to Silsden.

Sowerby Bridge & back (123 miles, 132 locks, 75 hours)

Cruise along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Leeds and transfer onto the Aire & Calder Navigation to continue on to Sowerby Bridge in Calderdale, passing through Wakefield and Brighouse along the way.

Follow the week long route to Leeds. Then continue heading east along the Aire & Calder Navigation to Castleford Junction. There are lots of pubs in Castleford, including The Boat Inn, The Anchor and The Junction. Continue on, passing the Canal & River Trust’s Stanley Ferry Workshops where they make locks gates.  The Stanley Ferry pub is canalside here. At Fall Ing Junction you’ll transfer onto the Calder & Hebble Navigation. You’ll go through Wakefield with its canalside Ruddy Duck and Navigation Inn and the waterside Hepworth Wakefield Gallery. The journey will take you on through Horbury, Shepley Bridge (The Ship Inn), Mirfield (The Navigation Tavern), Cooper Bridge, Brighouse (Jeremy’s at The Boat House and The Richard Oastler on Bethel Street), Elland (The Barge & Barrell), and Salterhebble (The Watermill).  At Sowerby Bridge you can turn and then moor up to visit The Moorings pub and explore this historic market town in Calderdale.

Click here to book a canal boat holiday on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Silsden, or call us on 0117 304 1122.

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