Superlative Walks

Urban and rural trails, each with something very special


Saltaire is near Bradford in West Yorkshire, England. It is named after Sir Titus Salt who built a textile mill, known as Salts Mill, and the village on the River Aire. Salts Mill was opened on Sir Titus Salt’s 50th birthday, 20 September 1853. In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  More information is available at

In addition to the walk, it is worth spending some time looking round Saltaire itself. There is a self-guided walk on the website above, and there are also guided walks  Salts Mill itself is fascinating, and has cafes, a bookshop, an art shop and various galleries, including works by David Hockney.  The website a mine of information.

1. Start the walk at Saltaire station, then walk down Victoria Road with Salts Mill to the right.

There is an excellent tourist information room, also on the right, in part of Salts Mill.  The Church on the left is the Saltaire United Reform Church, a grade 1 listed building. When Titus Salt commenced the design and construction of Saltaire, a Congregational church was the first public building commissioned. Salt donated the land and paid for the cost of the church himself, a cost of £16,000 in 1859 (equivalent to £1,477,739 in 2016). The church was designed, as was the rest of Saltaire, by the Bradford-based architect partnership of Lockwood and Mawson in the Italianate Classical style

2. At the bottom of Victoria Road, cross the bridge then turn left down the slope, and then onto the canal towpath, heading westward, following the sign to Bingley

The Leeds Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in the country

3. At the first lock reached, Hirst Lock, cross the bridge to the car park, swing right and at the far end of the car park enter Hirst Wood.

4. Follow the path, and at a fork in the path, keep left. The track divides twice into three paths. Each time, take the middle route. At a large tree, (see photo, as there are many in the wood) drop down right towards the canal.

5.  On leaving the wood, rejoin the canal towpath, crossing the River Aire on the aqueduct. At the end of the aqueduct, drop down to the left and turn right by a stone wall, which you follow, on your right.

6. Turn right over the bridge across the canal, then carry on up a path diagonally (45 degrees) to the left. When a road is reached, cross it and turn right past Primrose Hill Cottages, and go up the left-hand side of the road towards Gilstead.


Sir Fred Hoyle was born in Gilstead in 1915.  Note the blue plaque.  He was a British astronomer who formulated the theory of  stellar nucleosynthesis. He also held controversial stances on other scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the “Big Bang” theory, a term coined by him on BBC radio, and his promotion of panspermiaas the origin of life on Earth.

7. Just before the junction with Gilstead Lane take the footpath signed Sparable Lane, following it between two walls. On exiting the woods, bear right and follow a footpath through a metal gate to the left of a gold-topped path sign.

8. Follow the path across a field to a cluster of houses, bear right and follow the path between two garages. In the woods take the left route at a T-junction of paths. Continue through the woods and at the first fork in the path take the left-hand uphill route.

9. When the river comes into sight on the right and the trees thin on the left, descend on the right-hand fork of the paths to a bridge. Cross the castellated bridge over Loadpit Beck and head right up the stony track.

10. The path comes out on the edge of Baildon Moor. Turn right and follow the path between the road and the rocky outcrops, passing Bracken Hall B&B and Countryside Centre on the left.

Shipley Glen is an area of common land of outstanding natural beauty. It became the playground of the Victorian working classes, mostly mill workers, who lived and worked in the most appalling conditions.  In Victorian times, tens of thousands flocked to this beautiful place and small businesses and stalls sprang up. There were countless refreshment stalls and a variety of traders plied their wares and it was a popular spot for ‘gypsy’ (Roma) traders.

 In 1887 a wooden switchback railway, probably only the second to be built in the UK and originally erected for the 1887 Saltaire Exhibition, was re-erected on the Glen and renamed ‘The Royal Yorkshire Switchback’ (closed 1917).  There was a giant camera obscura. In 1889, ‘The Aerial Flight’ (not to be confused with the ‘Aerial Glide’), a cable car ride operating between two huge wooden towers was built (demolished 1920) and, in 1897, ‘the Toboggan Slide’ opened.

11.  Continue down Glen Road, passing the Old Glen House pub on the right. The road becomes Prod Lane. At the end of Prod Lane is the top of the Shipley Glen Cable Tramway. Follow the path down to the right of the tramway. 

Shipley Glen Tramway is the oldest funicular tramway still running in the UK.

12. Continue along the path, which levels out and has a field on the left. At the first tree, turn right through the gap, cross the school car park, then cross the road and enter Roberts Park,

Roberts Park is a fine example of a Victorian park

In front are a bandstand and a statue of Titus Salt above a semi-circular café. The bronze statue was erected in the park in 1903 to celebrate 50 years of the opening of the Mill and Salts 100th birthday.  Its base is decorated with llamas and alpacas, whose wool was used in Salts Mill.  The statue was commissioned by Sir James Roberts (the then mill owner). Sir James Roberts purchased the park in1891 and renamed it Roberts Park.

13. Turn left at the statue, go along the wide path, then right at the end. Cross the large green bridge to return to Saltaire, taking the opportunity to explore Saltaire.