Walking to Skipton on the X84
Over the last five years I have come to know and love the X84 Service – comfortable double decker buses that ply their way between Leeds, Otley, Ilkley and Skipton. I don’t know what they are like in the morning rush hour – I only board after 9.30am (with my bus pass!) and then they almost always have ample seating and several walkers.
The route passes through some great Yorkshire scenery – not the full grandeur of the Dales or North Yorkshire Moors, but much of the delight of Wharfedale is to be seen through the windows of the bus, without even leaving your seat. Stepping out into that scenery is not only straightforward, but also hugely rewarding.
Bit by bit, I have explored the paths that launch off from various bus stops. It eventually became clear to me that I could walk from bus stop to bus stop through a fantastic range of scenery, mainly off-road. I then realised that with a little more exploration I could fit together a series of routes that would let me walk all the way to Skipton on country paths, stage by stage, and still be home for tea, or even lunch, in Headingley each day.
These are the stages I have pieced together (click on each one below to jump to the description):
- Woodhouse Moor to Golden Acre (about two and a half hours)
- Golden Acre to Old Pool Bank (about three hours)
- Old Pool Bank to Otley (about one and a half hours – without the cafe stop!)
- Otley to Burley in Wharfedale (about one and a half hours)
- Burley in Wharfedale to Ilkley (about three hours)
- Ilkley to Addingham (About three and a half hours – or two hours!)
- Addingham to Draughton (about four hours)
- Draughton to Skipton (about two and a half hours)
(I’ve included a combined Stage 4 and 5, these two being quite short. But I’ve also included two routes for Stage 6.)
Estimating times is so hard – it depends how fast you walk. So these are relative times – some stages are longer than others!
Some of these stages are fairly short, and in several cases two walks could be merged into one. It depends how far you want to walk each day. I’ve tried to ensure that there is virtually no walking on main roads, and as little as possible on minor roads. Sometimes short sections of the paths may be a little muddy or rocky, but there is nothing too challenging. I’ve aimed to include the best views, so several of the stages are along ridges overlooking Wharfedale.
Although I have taken care to describe only paths that are both legal and safe, you follow these routes at your own risk. I cannot be held responsible for injury or getting lost. (The latter of which, incidentally, is one of my favourite walking activities!)
Many sections of these walks follow well-established routes (The Dales Way, the Millennium Way, the Meanwood Trail, Leeds Country Way etc) described in other books of walks. I refer to these where appropriate.
The maps are rudimentary – and I am part-colour blind! In each map –
- the red continuous line is the route of the X84
- dotted red lines are other roads
- the black dotted line is the walking route
- a blue line (if indeed it is blue!) denotes a river and
- numbers correspond to the numbers in the descriptions of the walks.
You can double click maps to expand or save them, go the the print button at the end of each stage to print out text, map and photos, or simply use the guide on a mobile device. And it’s all free!
Most sections of the walk can be studied in greater detail on the Ordnance Survey Explorer map 297. (It doesn’t quite reach Skipton, for which you’d need OL21, or Leeds, covered by OS 289.)
The X84 runs hourly each way between Leeds and Skipton, twice an hour between Leeds and Ilkley (with 20 and 40 minute intervals), and every 20 minutes between Leeds and Otley. The current timetable is at:
Please add comments to the blog. I’d welcome suggestions for clarifications to the maps or the descriptions, for improvements in the routes or additional information that should be included.
I want to thank route testers – the Thursday walking group ( Barry, Dave, Denise, Gill, Gordon, Judi, Margie and Nigel), Lynne and Tom, Digger, Ali and Brian (the latter also for additional photos).