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  1. Canal Boat Holidays
  2. Yorkshire
  3. Leeds to Skipton
Leeds to Skipton and Return

Explore the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from Leeds to Skipton

This route is an excellent option for a week-long holiday - 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 week long hire from Leeds to the pretty market town of Skipton 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. The World Heritage Site of Bingley 5-Rise locks is another highlight before reaching the beautiful market town of Skipton. Back in Leeds, a night in Granary Wharf is another highlight of this versatile route that will surely please the whole crew.

Example 7-night week cruise to Skipton 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 of the ruined remains of Kirkstall Abbey. Due to Kirkstall Lock, Forge 3 Locks and Newlay 3 Locks having timed passage, it may be 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 numerous 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 Bingley 3-Rise and 5-Rise Locks. Before this highlight, there are two more staircase locks ahead of you. 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 Salts Mill for 6 Hours or carry on a little bit and moor just beyond Saltaire. From here, it's just a short walk to Salts Mill, Roberts Park and the numerous small shops, eateries and pubs. If this is your first visit, you could spend an hour in the People + Process exhibition on the 3rd floor of Salts Mill, where a video gives you an overview of the village's history. 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. Now, it's time to carry on towards Bingley. After setting off from Saltaire, you'll go through Hirst Lock and Dowley Gap staircase locks. Depending on when you arrive, you can either moor up at the bottom of the Bingley 3-Rise and 5-Rise locks or the top, as lock passages are timed. A visit to the tearoom at the top of this World Heritage Site is an excellent way to replenish your energy levels.

If you are interested and have enough time, you can visit Haworth, the home of the Bronte Sisters, on board a steam train. Experience the rich history of the area and soak in the views. Trains leave from Keighley train station, which is easily accessed via train from most train stations along the way, such as Bingley and Skipton.

Day 3

Today is when you reach Skipton—cruise through the pretty villages of Silsden and Kildwick. Soon, you'll arrive in the market town of Skipton. Stretch your legs on a walk along the Springs Branch and in Skipton Woods, or have the kids let off some steam in Airedale Park. The Visitor Centre and adjacent museum are excellent places to learn about Skipton and its surroundings. The Boathouse Bar is the perfect location for a well-deserved pint of tiller pin and watch the sun go down.

Pint of tiller pin at the boathouse in skipton

Day 4

You have plenty of time to explore more of Skipton today, such as Skipton Castle, or visit the many independent shops. Another option is a ride on the steam train from either Keighley or Bolton Abbey. There are also great walks around the ruined remains of Bolton Abbey. The village is easily reached by bus from Skipton bus station.

Day 5

It's time to retrace your steps back towards Leeds. Leave the hustle and bustle of Skipton behind and cruise back through Silsden and Riddlesten. There is an excellent pub in Kildwick, where you can stop for a couple of hours before continuing towards Bingley. Moor up at the top of Bingley 5-Rise locks before you head down again the following day.

Day 6

Today, you descend Bingley 5-Rise and 3-Rise locks and carry on to Saltaire. You can stroll through Hirst Wood or visit Salts Mill if you haven't done so on your way to Skipton. Carry on to Rodley again and spend the rest of the day wandering through the Nature Reserve and relaxing in one of the pubs.

Day 7

Today is the last day of your canal boat adventure. Leave Rodley behind and descend through Newlay, Forge and Kirkstall Locks. Note that these locks are timed again. Now is a great time to stop just below Kirkstall Lock and walk to Kirkstall Abbey and perhaps the Abbey House Museum. Now it's time to replenish your energy levels in the Abbey Inn or West End House Pub before you carry on and end today's journey at Granary Wharf in Leeds. Finish your day with an exploration of the city. Take a water taxi from Granary Wharf and visit Leeds Dock and the Royal Armouries, or take a walk along the towpath and visit Leeds Industrial Museum. Several pubs in Granary Wharf provide an excellent way to conclude the (near) end of your canal boat holiday.

Day 8 (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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