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TO celebrate the project that hopes to see Atlantic salmon return to the River Aire after an absence of more than 150 years, a charity has created an online hub of riverside walks to encourage residents in the area to explore – and perhaps return in the years to come to watch leaping salmon.
Volunteers and staff from the Aire Rivers Trust, one of the bodies behind the salmon project, have been using their spare time to research the history of the river, which starts its 90 mile journey at Malham Tarn and finishes at Airmyn, Goole.
The eight self-guided walks include Carleton and Kildwick, and also Saltaire, Bingley and Apperley Bridge, and are designed to highlight the River Aire’s wealth of history and wildlife.
Each is downloadable, for free from the Natural Aire website: www.dnaire.org.uk – and is just one of the ways the group is encouraging new visitors to the river over the next two years.
Each of the walks comes with an easy to understand map, historical references, and details of accessibility, parking and nearby services, with the longest, 5km in Kirkstall.
Simon Watts, the Aire River Trust’s community engagement manager, said:“The River Aire is a fantastic green and blue ribbon that binds our communities together.
“The towns and villages along the river have so much shared history. It has been a real joy writing and editing the walk. I’ve found fascinating stories I never knew about. I’d love to see people discovering their local stretch of river and then heading out to find new places.”
Developing the Natural Aire is a partnership project between the Aire Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Yorkshire Water and Craven District Council.
It will see the completion of four fish passes in Leeds and Bradford in 2020 together with volunteer days, school visits and community events over the next two years.
Ducks and Drakes by Carleton-in-Craven is one of the walks available to download and is written by volunteer, Jane Rogers, who also took the photographs. Here is a slightly edited version of the walk.
It is a short walk, just 1.6km, less than a mile, and with stops to take in historical references, will take about 30 minutes to 45 minutes to complete.
The Swan Inn is a great place to start and end your walk. With the pub on your left walk down Swan Street.
You’ll notice that each terrace of houses is different and have their own style. These houses were built in the 1800s and 1900s.
Louvain Terrace was built after the destruction of Louvain in the First World War.
Walking past the Post Office you’ll come to Vicar’s Row. The cottages here celebrate the Reverend Jelf. This energetic Oxford scholar arrived in Carleton in 1849 and is responsible for their construction.
Cross the beck with Brook View and Beckside on your left. The beck here, Catlow Gill runs through the centre of the village and into the River Aire. This is a great place for your dog to drink. On Easter Monday you would see excited children here watching hundreds of plastic ducks race through the village.
Walking on, you’ll pass Carleton Old Hall. Take a look at the two dates in the date stone. One marks the original construction and the second in memory of its renovation. It was built in 1584 by the Ferrands, it has that solid appearance of the home of a prosperous family. For many years they were the gatekeepers at Skipton castle.
As you carry on past the Old Hall, look up to your right where there are often cows. As the land rises you can see old gate posts. These are probably medieval and thought to be the site of the original village.
Head past Harlequin Cottage and its natty little wooden bridge and you’ll come to Aireview Terrace on your right. Follow the track in front of the houses and then take the stile into the field.
Your path runs parallel to the stone wall on your right. There are often sheep in this field so dogs need to be on a lead. This is true Aire Valley Flood plain. Notice how flat the land is. The Aire breaks its banks and runs across the fields two or three times a year at this point. Each time saving areas from flooding downstream. Patient lines of sheep wait on the raised embankments for the water level to fall.
There’s a stile on the right towards the bottom of the field. The path leads there so you should be able to find it easily. Once you cross the stile the metal bridge is straight in front of you. The bridge is a great place for Pooh Sticks. Or you can just for watch the river flow by for a while. The path continues towards Skipton but our walk uses the bridge as a turning point. On the Skipton side is a handy bench. Great if you have a flask or a picnic. You can often see swans and ducks from here. Sand martins will swoop low to the water from their nests in the riverbank further along.
From your resting place on the bench you can look back up at the village with Carleton Mill at its centre. The mill was built in 1861 by the Slingsby family. Originally a farming family in the area they started to weave cotton, first at an old mill in Bell Busk and then building the mill in Carleton.
Before it closed in 1999, the mill had a varied history. During the Second World War it produced parts for jet engines and it ended its days as a Carpet Mill.
Now apartments, the mill has retained one of its marvellous chimneys. Walking back up to towards the village follow the path sloping up towards the church. There are three fields in total to cross and two stiles to climb before you get to the church. However, the views are pretty and you can hear curlew, red shank and lapwings as you walk. These remind you how near to the river these fields are. St Mary’s, built in 1859 is a pretty sight on the rise above you.
There is believed to have been a church on this site since the 1100s. If you look back towards Skipton you can see Sharphaw, and on a clear day the hills behind Malham and beyond.
As the path goes through the gate next to the church you’re walking with the old graveyard on your right and the newer plots on your left.
At the end of the path turn sharp right and admire the beautiful church entrance. In spring the huge cherry blossom tree here is breath-taking.
Following the wall you will see a narrow pathway leading back to the Post Office. The chillingly named Dead Lane was apparently the route coffins were carried into the churchyard. Its history is now forgotten. You simply see a pleasant path which shares a wall with the village playground.
Once back at the Post office you can turn left and walk past the village hall.