Walking to Skipton on the X84 Introduction

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.

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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):

  1. Woodhouse Moor to Golden Acre (about two and a half hours)
  2. Golden Acre to Old Pool Bank (about three hours)
  3. Old Pool Bank  to Otley (about one and a half hours – without the cafe stop!)
  4. Otley to Burley in Wharfedale (about one and a half hours)
  5. Burley in Wharfedale to Ilkley (about three hours)
  6. Ilkley to Addingham (About three and a half hours – or two hours!)
  7. Addingham to Draughton (about four hours)
  8. 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.

Full route enlarged

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.)

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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:

http://www.wymetro.com/BusTravel/bustimetables/Bustimetable/x84/

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).

 

  

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Stage 1 – Woodhouse to Golden Acre

Stage 1 – Woodhouse Moor to Golden Acre – the Meanwood Valley trail

Six miles, two and a half hours, nothing steep, but sometimes muddy sections in Adel Woods. This section includes Leeds City parkland (Meanwood Park and the Hollies), open pasture, ancient woodland (Adel Woods) and short sections of reasonably safe lanes.

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A purist may want to start walking from the origin of the route of the X84 at Leeds bus station (not included in the six miles). If so, from the bus station follow signs for the University or walk up Eastgate, turn right up Woodhouse Lane, past St Johns and Merrion shopping centres, past the big red rusty building at Leeds Metropolitan University and on to the Parkinson Building.

Or you might choose to miss that bit of urban walking and start from the Parkinson (the huge grey building with the tower and skirt of wide steps). If you want to take a bus there from Leeds bus station, you will have to get there on a no 6, 28 or 97, since the X84 does not set down at the University. From there walk on to the beginning of Woodhouse Moor, where you cross the road to the H R Marsden statue, opposite the junction of Headingley Lane and Clarendon Road (1). This is where the walk starts for me. It is also the start of the Meanwood Valley Trail, a walking route that takes you from almost the centre of town, through trees and along streams, all the way to Golden Acre Park.

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For more information and detail on this part of the route you might like to look at the the excellent advice in Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meanwood_Valley_Trail

From the Marsden Statue, walk away from town on the main road across the moor and turn right at Rampart Road. Cross Woodhouse Street and continue up Delph Lane. After about a quarter of a mile, at the very end of Deplh Lane shortly after you have crested the hill, go through a gate and turn left onto the footpath and walk through Batty Wood. This is signposted Meanwood Valley Trail and Dales Way Link.  Take the highest path, alongside old stone walls on your left. This very gradually drops down, crossing through a stone and metal gate barrier where you take the middle of three paths.

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You will soon cross a path and go straight on through a tunnel of trees with back gardens on your left until you reach Grove Lane, which you cross, and with the stream on your right take the path forward to Monkbridge Road.

There turn right and after about 100 yards cross the zebra crossing and turn left into Mill Pond Lane. Immediately on your left the path is signposted Meanwood Valley Trail. You will cross a wooden bridge, walk up to the left with a millpond on your right, then take the first sharp right turn where the path takes you between allotments. As you reach the road, turn right to enter Meanwood Park (2). IMG_2372Walk through the park, crossing the stream as signposted, finally over a stone bridge immediately followed by a wooden bridge.

You will then pass through the Hollies, still following the stream (3) which you cross via a wooden bridge above a weir. Six steps up, turn left and follow the stream on your left.  As you leave the park, walk up the tarmac lane about 100 yards towards the Ring Road but turn right along the footpath immediately after a set-back house. IMG_2375After about a quarter of a mile you reach the pedestrian tunnel under the ring road (4).  

The path forks as you enter Adel Woods. Take the right hand path, continuing until you reach a substantial stone bridge which you cross. At the stone post on the other side of the bridge turn left and traverse upwards to join the main path after about 100 yards.

The section of this walk from the tunnel to Stairfoot Lane (6) has many paths in it. I suggest that you simply keep close to the stream on your left by taking the left hand option whenever the path splits. (In about twenty walks through these woods I don’t think I have ever used exactly the same route.) Eventually you reach an old stone aqueduct, which you can go under or pass with it on your left. IMG_2383Keep going and cross a smaller stream via a stone slab bridge, and up a few steps beyond it.

This will take you on to what must once have been a paved, raised path. It is still raised, but the paving has gone very wonkytwoodle, with sections that are often quite muddy.

Meanwood Beck should still be in earshot to your left. You should soon come to a flight of steps going down to the left, at the bottom of which you turn right to pass between a house and the stream, and out onto Stairfoot Lane.

(If you wanted to break this section into smaller chunks, that is easy. Take the bus home by turning left on Stairfoot Lane (rather narrow and quite busy with traffic), turn right to pass Yorkgate on your right, then through Adel Churchyard, turning left along Church Lane, which turns right to the main road where you can pick up the bus home. Pick up the walk from here another day. Don’t forget. )

Cross directly over Stairfoot Lane and veering right follow the path up through the woods. You will eventually see a meadow through the trees on your left. A row of posts will lead you to a stile into the meadow. Turn right and follow the edge of the meadow until you pass into a wooded footpath with the golf course on your left and pasture on your right. At King Lane (7), turn left and using the rather inadequate path on the far side of the road walk about half a mile down to the crossroad at Eccup Lane. Go straight on a further 200 yards to a T junction. Directly ahead of you is a footpath between Golden Acre Park on your right (8) and pasture on your left. Walk on about half a mile. (You could turn right as you reach the lake and pop into the cafe – up to you!) Otherwise, walk on, past the entrance to the nature reserve on your left and the Parkway Hotel on your right. Emerging onto the main road, the X84 bus stop is about 50 yards along to your right. There is a service back to Leeds every 20 minutes on weekdays.

Stage 2 – Golden Acre to Pool Bank

Stage 2  Golden Acre to Pool Bank

So close to town, yet this section has a pretty pond, the chance to visit  ‘Caring for Life’, a sighting of the airport, a pleasant village and the first view of Wharfedale – and all in about two and a half hours of easy walking. At times a little mud here and there only adds to the adventure!

Take the bus to the Parkway Hotel. As you leave the Leeds suburbs, you pass the Lawnswood Arms Hotel on the left before leaving the built up area and travelling between open fields. The Parkway is the first stop on entering open country.

Stage 2 GA to P enlarged map

When you leave the bus opposite the Parkway Hotel, walk forward about 100 yards and turn left onto a surfaced farm track. After about 200 yards you will come to the feeding pens for fattening cattle. Say hello! Go straight through the farmyard, bearing left past the cattle pens  and then immediately on your right pass through a gate, taking care to use the stones of what was once a wall to make your way through what is often a very muddy 20 yards. Go straight ahead until you reach a stile accessing Paul’s Pond (1).

Walk anti-clockwise around the pond to the far right hand corner. Then take the path to the right for about a hundred yards to a metal gate. Go through onto a path across open country to a farmhouse, which you skirt with it on your right. You are now on the Leeds Country Way. On again until you reach a stand of trees, where you turn left and keep walking, past a couple of farmyards, a few houses and a rather disconsolate scout hut. (Who needs the hut?! This is the outdoor life!)

You eventually reach Cookridge Lane (2). Cross it and turn right, passing a line of 30s houses. At the very end of the row, after crossing Cookridge Avenue and opposite the clubhouse of the Old Modernians, take the footpath to the left. (3)

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After about a hundred yards you reach a lone oak tree on the right, where you turn right, alongside a stone wall on your right. After a stile you eventually pass through the wall and continue with it on your left up to a small copse of trees. You will come out at a tarmac road leading on your left to Crag Farm, the headquarters of Caring For Life. (4) (There is a great café/restaurant here, in a beautifully converted barn.)

Cross the tarmac road and half right you will see a footpath. Skirt round Crag Farm on your left until you reach another track, with views of Leeds/Bradford airport off to the left.
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There is a metal gate, and at its immediate right a stile for you to climb. (5) Off you go, and you will eventually come to the first of a series of large, round, windowless towers. These are the airvents to the railway tunnel that runs from Horsforth almost to Arthington. You will pass a number of these over the next mile and a half. Almost every time I walk this route I hear a train passing below me at one or other of the towers.

Follow the path straight down until you reach the road. (There is a sign for a right turn that cuts a corner, but it takes you along the edge of a wood by a path that I have always found to be terribly muddy.) At the road turn right, past a very snazzy looking farm, until you reach a half right bend in the road – about 200 yards.

There you cross the road and at the beginning of the makeshift lay-by, IMG_1883find a duckboard bridge over a ditch, leading into a wooded path. It’s a bit muddy at times, but not too bad.

(“What a boring picture!” “Yes, I know. I’m sorry. It’s a duckboard. OK?”)

Follow the path through woods, then across paddocks and meadows. After another stile, turning half right you follow a waymark sign to pass between some hillocks in a field usually occupied by a few horses. You’ll then see what looks like a tall chimney with windows near the top. It’s just another air vent, though why in this form, who knows? Passing it on your left, you reach a stile out of the corner of the field onto a road. IMG_1885Go left about 100 yards and turn right into a little lane accessing three lovely houses. (6) Your path goes off half-left between two of the houses, through woodland to another airvent.

Just keep going. At one point you climb a short flight of steps and keep right at the top. You will eventually come out into a suburban housing estate. Cross the road and on to a children’s playground on top of a hillock, and then turn left onto the road through Bramhope . (If you time it to arrive between 10 and 12 on a Tuesday morning you can get great coffee and cakes at the Methodist Church Hall.) At Bramhope Cross  go straight over onto Old Lane.

After about half a mile the housing ends, and after the last house on the right take the footpath to the right. Follow it as it bends round to the left and over a stile into a couple of meadows marked out by tumbledown walls. At the second meadow cross diagonally to the far right hand corner.

IMG_1889Cross the stile and follow the footpath along beside a wall and fence until you pass between some houses and emerge onto the rather busy main Harrogate/Bradford road. Cross this very carefully and head off over on the right down Old Pool Bank. At the bottom you join the main A660 to Otley. Follow it round the bend to the left and even more carefully cross the road to reach the stone bus shelter to return to Leeds. On weekdays you won’t have to wait more than 20 minutes.

Stage 3 – Pool Bank to Otley

Stage 3            Pool Bank to Otley

PB to O enlarged mapAs well as being the shortest walk at only one and a half hours, this is perhaps the simplest of all the walks, and probably the most familiar to some. Lovely views of Wharfedale, pleasant woodland stretches, a charming cafe and very clear paths. 

Get off the bus at Pool Bank (past the Subaru garage, through the S bend under the trees to where the view of Wharfedale opens out).

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Leave the bus and continue forward about 100 yards to a path sloping forward and up to you left. At first a tree sheltered track, it opens up to a path through rocky moorland. Keep going forward, with Wharfedale down on your right and you will enter the Chevin Park after about half a mile. Just keep following the main track forward. IMG_2395

There are several viewing points, and eventually a dip into a small valley with a wooden bridge at the bottom.

Up the other side and stick with the main path until you reach a car park. Immediately to the right just before you enter the car park, is a signed bridleway (1). (Actually, there are two paths. IMG_2396You take the left hand one closest to the car park.)

Follow this through the woods until you eventually (about half a mile) emerge onto East Chevin Road.

Cross directly over onto Miller Lane, with Danefield House on your right (2). At the top of this track you will come to another gate leading into West Chevin Park (3). Keep going forward on the main path, passing the Royalty Pub (now closed) over on your left and eventually reaching a crag known as Surprise View. And the views are good in all directions.

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Then retrace your steps about 200 yards to a paved path sloping down to your left. As you enter the woods and turn left, follow the path down, crossing another path, until you reach The White House Café (4). (Avoid Tuesdays – the café is closed then. IMG_2404And it shuts at 2.00pm on weekdays. Otherwise it has to be the best value and most charming café for some distance!)

 From the White House take the track down the hill, cross the first road and onwards, and again at the next road, on past a smallholding with all sorts of animals.

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Then you cross the footbridge over the Otley bypass (5) and continue down Station Road to the centre of Otley. At the busy road, turn right, then over at the pedestrian crossing and left to the bus station.

Busses every 20 minutes to Leeds, but the market square is only another 100 yards through the little shopping arcade, and worth a visit – especially on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Stage 4 – Otley to Burley in Wharfedale

Stage 4      Otley to Burley in Wharfedale

(I’ve set out Stages 4 and 5 separately, but with a shared map that also serves the directions for a longer walk comprising Stages 4 and 5 combined.)

This shouldn’t take much more than an hour and a half – so back in time for lunch on this stage. When I’ve walked it one field has had quite long grass in it, resulting in wet trousers. Otherwise, it’s a doddle of a walk.

Stages 4 and 5 – Otley to Burley in Wharfedale

When you leave Otley bus station, head down through Otley Market Square. (Resist those pork pies in the two specialist shops. OK, don’t bother.) Then at the central traffic lights, go along Westgate, next to the beautiful Black Horse Hotel. Fork right at a junction by “The Fleece” onto Ilkley Road. There are some pretty houses to look at along there, both large and small. When you approach the industrial park, IMG_2411turn left and you will find that someone has kindly built a pedestrian underpass (1) under the A660 to take you across to West Busk Lane, which you can follow past houses on both sides for about half a mile until you reach Otley Golf Club on the right (2).

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Though not marked with a footpath sign as such, it is a public right of way. You can walk the tarmac road until you reach the clubhouse carpark. (Ignore the blue and yellow marker post on the left as you approach the car park – the club professional tells me it is wrong!)

Cross the car park, keeping the clubhouse on your right. Then you should follow blue posts with yellow tops that take you over the grass and up a narrow stand of trees between the fairways.IMG_1862 I’m sure they are all excellent golfers in Otley and that the chances of being doinked by a ball are slim! At the top of this gentle slope, having passed a small stone shelter for intrepid all-weather golfers, over to your right you will see a small stone barn – an equipment store for the groundsmen.

Immediately behind it is a gate leading into a meadow. Follow the diagonal beaten track straight down the meadow until you reach a double footbridge over a couple of converging streams.

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On the other side is a gate leading into an old green lane, Eastfield Lane. Follow this until you pass Goit Stock Farm, and it takes you out onto the almost disused road leading, on the left, to the roundabout on the A65 (3). Cross over the roundabout and follow the road into the centre of Burley in Wharfedale.

To head back to Leeds, go to one of the bus stops on the right hand side of the main street, the gentle hill that you have been ascending. Simples! The X84 heads back to Leeds from the centre of Burley in Wharfedale at 6 minutes and 46 minutes past the hour on weekdays.

Stage 5 – Burley in Wharfedale to Ilkley

Stage 5  Burley in Wharfedale to Ilkley

This walk takes about three hours, with a bit of a climb up onto Ilkley Moor. On the map, you go via point 3a (Moor Lane).

Stages 4 and 5 – Otley to Burley in Wharfedale

Off the bus in Burley in Wharfedale High Street, walk up to the top of the road and just near what looks like a grand and elegant summer house, you turn left and go up Station Road. When you pass the station, the road cunningly becomes Moor Lane and takes you up to the moor.  Obviously.IMG_2423

At the junction with a little green in the middle, go straight on, passing the ex-chapel on your right and up onto the Dales Way (7).

Stick with the main path, which pretty much follows the line of the escarpment overlooking Wharfedale.

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As you come into view of the large Cow and Calf Hotel (8), the path makes its way gradually down the escarpment. In one or two short stretches it becomes quite rocky, but you are soon past that and eventually you arrive at the Cow and Calf rocks at what amounts to a major walking crossroads (a cross paths?!).

Go straight over this cross paths, which will take you along the side of the quarry dropping down on your right, often festooned with climbers doing their thing.
IMG_1886Follow the main path forward, through dips and rises and small stands of pine trees,until you reach a large rock outcrop on the left of the path. A detour to its top reveals some excellent prehistoric markings.

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(There are several paths here, and I’m finding it hard to describe the route accurately. But Ilkley is in view ahead of you, and that is where you are heading.)

IMG_2430Continuing on the path, you cross a small footbridge over a stream.

You soon drop down to a pleasant pond with seating and shelters. The path continues down, eventually passing the backs of houses to your right, and then opening out to the road that goes directly down to Ilkley bus station.

The X84 departs Ilkley for Leeds at 14 and 54 minutes past the hour.

Stages 4 and 5 combined – Otley to Ilkley!

Stages 4 and 5 combined – Otley to Ilkley

This makes for a longer walk (about four and a half hours), but on a good day it is very rewarding.

Stages 4 and 5 – Otley to Burley in Wharfedale

Follow the directions for Stage 4 (Otley to Burley in Wharfedale) until you reach point 3, the A65 roundabout. Here, instead of going on into Burley in Wharfedale, turn left at the roundabout (towards Bradford) and walk about 100 yards along the A65 towards Leeds and Bradford. Cross the road and follow a footpath sign off to the right, passing through a meadow with a line of trees to your right. After a smart gate, the footpath veers left passing allotments on your right and a small stream on your left.

You then go through a gate into the primary school grounds (4) and follow a zigzag path up to the left of the school buildings. IMG_2421On emerging onto Sandholm Drive, go straight over into Heather Rise, and take a pathway passing to the left of the house at the top.

This will take you under the railway bridge and, straight ahead, into a meadow. Go over the meadow to another gate that opens onto Hag Farm Road (5). Continue forward along this quiet lane lined with some very major residential properties. IMG_1873About 150 yards after these houses have dried up (I’d guess because the lane gets too narrow for two Bentleys to pass) take a stile on the right, across a meadow, to another stile, into some woodland, on through a few gates and stiles, passing a truly huge tree, wire fencing on your right and a tumbledown wall on your left. Just keep going up. Eventually you emerge onto a steep meadow, at the top of which is a hedge hiding a large house. Walk to the left of the hedge, up the tarmac drive of the house and out onto Moor Road at the Hermit public house (6).

At the road turn right and walk about 200 yards to the junction with Moor Lane. Turn left immediately before the ex-chapel and up onto the Dales Way (7). You then follow the directions for Stage 5 to Ilkley.