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Leeds to Saltaire and Return

Explore the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Leeds to Saltaire

This route is an excellent option for a short break, especially for an active crew. The canal takes you out of Leeds city centre along the beautiful Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Industrial heritage, lots of greenery and a healthy amount of locks and swing bridges keep you busy on this cruise.

Culture, greenery, lots of canal interest and city life - this short break from Leeds to the World Heritage Site of Saltaire is a true gem. The journey begins and leads out of Leeds and past the magnificent remains of Kirkstall Abbey. Plenty of staircase locks keep the whole crew entertained until the canal reaches the village of Rodley. Pubs and a fascinating nature reserve provide a nice change from this picturesque journey. Thickly wooded hills straddle the waterway until it comes to the world-famous village of Saltaire. Back in Leeds, a night in Granary Wharf is another highlight of this versatile route that will surely please the whole crew.

Example 4-night mid-week cruise to Saltaire and back.

Day 1.

Leaving the hirebase in Leeds, you'll first go through the Oddy Staircase Locks of 2 and Spring Garden Lock. You'll soon leave urban Leeds and reach Kirkstall. From here, you have a nice view to the ruined remains of Kirkstall Abbey. Due to Kirkstall Lock, Forge 3 Locks and Newlay 3 Locks having timed passage. It's a good idea to go through these now and visit the Abbey on your return leg. Having passed through 3 staircases on your first day of hire, we recommended finding a mooring in the village of Rodley, either before or after Rodley Swing Bridge. Rodley Nature Reserve is a great option to visit. This volunteer-run nature reserve comprises wetland and wooded areas, ponds and several bird hides. If the local pubs are calling you, both the Rodley Barge and The Owl are perfect for a well-earned drink. Alternatively, you could carry on towards Apperley Bridge moorings. Then, it's only a short walk to the George & Dragon or Stanfield Arms.


Day 2.

Today is when you reach the World Heritage Site of Saltaire, a trip highlight. Two more Staircase locks lay ahead of you today. Dobson Locks is the first one, and Field Locks is the second. The canal meanders now around Calverley, Buck and Dawson woods. After cruising through Shipley, you'll soon arrive in Saltaire. You can either moor alongside the Salt Mill for 6 Hours or carry on a little bit and moor just beyond Saltaire. From here, it's just a short walk to Salt Mill, Roberts Park and the numerous small shops, eateries and pubs. If it's your first visit, a visit to People + Process on the 3rd floor of Salt Mill, where a video that will give you an overview of the village's history can be watched. The famous David Hockney Gallery, a spacious bookshop and a restaurant are in the same building, and a visit to one or all is easily combined. A good option for a drink or meal would be The Boathouse Inn, situated at the edge of Robert's Park, right next to the River Aire and the canal. The Inn was built in 1871, but only for recreation purposes and not as an alehouse, the reason for this being Titus Salt banning any public houses from the confines of his village. Hirst Wood, which you can find next to Hirst Lock, makes for a great stroll through this peaceful woodland. Another option would be a visit to Shipley Glen and the tramway.

Day 3

If you still need to do so, today is the day to turn around. The next turning point after Saltaire is just above Hirst lock, so you'll need to ascend, wind (turn), and descend the lock again. If you'd like to be in Leeds Granary Wharf for your final night, I recommend that today's destination be Apperley Bridge or Rodley. If you have stayed in Rodley on the way to Saltaire, it might be a good idea to change things up and moore up in Apperley Bridge for the night and vice versa.


Day 4

After leaving either Apperley Bridge or Rodley, you'll descend the Newlay and Forge Staircase locks and Kirkstall Lock once again. Right after Kirkstall Lock, you can moor up and take the 30-minute walk to Kirkstall Abbey and the Abbey House Museum. The site of the ruined Cistercian Kirkstall Abbey is well-preserved and situated in a small park. Right across the road is Abbey House Museum, a folk museum that displays Victorian life in the area. The museum houses three authentic streets of fully furnished Victorian shops, workshops and cottages. A visit to both Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum is easily combined with a stop at the West End House Pub, as it's right on the way back to the boat and includes a beer garden overlooking the River Aire.

Now, it's time for the final leg of your journey today. This time, you'll go past the hire base and into the heart of Leeds to spend the last night in Granary Wharf. Leeds city centre is very inviting for boats, with plentiful mooring and multiple pubs and restaurants just outside your floating holiday home. You could also go aboard a water taxi which leaves from River Lock and takes you via the River Aire to Leeds Dock, with several eateries and the Royal Armouries Museum. <video autoplay muted loop controlsList="nodownload"> Your browser does not support the video tag.

Day 5 (Final Morning)

This morning, it's time to get back to the hire base. You only need to ascent through Office Lock and St. Anns Ing Lock, and you'll already be back in time to hand back your holiday boat.

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