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Walks - St Ives nr Bingley

Tucked just off the main road, the old heart of Bingley is a welcome surprise amidst the chaos of discordant development that afflicts most of today's towns.

Rebuilt in stone around the end of the 11th century, it reflects the architectural styles of a millennium and boasts a window by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. The origins of the nearby Old White Horse are not that much later and locals claim that King John, who awarded the town a market charter in 1212, may have spent a night there. At one time the town court sat in the inn, which was equipped with cells, stocks and gibbet to service the proceedings.

After a lovely stroll by the River Aire, this week's walk climbs the hillside past an outstanding viewpoint into the St Ives Estate. Laid out in the middle of the 19th century by William Ferrand, one of the town's ancient families. It is now open as a superb country park with endless paths through a delightful woodland.

If you've still time at the end of the day, cross the road and wander up beside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the impressive three- and five rise locks, which between them drop the canal almost 100ft into the town, the steepest canal gradient in the country.

1 Leave the town at traffic lights, following the B6429 towards Harden past the Old White Horse and over Ireland Bridge. Immediately turn into Ireland Street, there going right and left to find a delightful riverside track. It accompanies the River Aire for a good half mile to Ravenroyd Farm. Pass right of the house to continue along a walled track to the next dwelling, Cophurst. Continue with the main track at the edge of successive pastures beside a wood, eventually leaving the trees to pass Marley Farm, over to your right. Over a stile and stream at the end, follow a roughly metalled track left across a ford (which you can avoid to the right) and on up the hill. Leave where it later turns into another farm, a grassy track winding ever upwards through bracken and open wood.

2 Through a small gate, a narrow path rises into denser trees. Bear right and then left at successive forks, to finish up along the top of the hill beside a wall on your right. Eventually, after crossing a Tarmac track, the path breaks out at a spectacular viewpoint, a rocky ridge known as the Druid's Altar.

3 Walk on bearing right to emerge at a crossing of tracks. Go through a gap in the wall opposite, but as the track then swings left, turn through a kissing gate on the right to find an ambling path through a belt of trees, Race Course Plantation. At the end, go left, remaining in the trees on a gently descending path through a largely unseen golf course. Beyond a break of open heather moor, the accompanying wall kicks left, but you should bear right with the main path, shortly passing an outcropping boulder Lady Blantyre's Rock.

4 The path meanders on, later passing Coppice Pond and eventually meeting a tarmac drive. Ahead it leads past the former stables of St Ives Mansion, where you will find Readers Tea Shop, the golf clubhouse and then, on the right, the stately mansion itself. The main drive snakes idly down through the estate, passing a car park towards the bottom. Immediately after there, take a path left into the trees and fork right, dropping to the B6429.

5 Cross to Beckfoot Lane, which continues the descent and ultimately leads to an enchanting spot where the old buildings of Beckfoot Farm overlook a ford and 18th-century packhorse bridge. Cross Harden Beck and follow the track away past allotments. Where they end, turn left on a path that leads to a footbridge across the River Aire and into Myrtle Park. Walk up through the park, behind the Bradford and Bingley offices to emerge back in the town beside Bingley Baths.

 
 
 

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