Silsden Strolls were the offspring of a footpath survey of the parish that I did at the request of West Riding Ramblers three years back. Without exception the constant major fault with every path was signage – no waymarks where there ought to be, broken or faded or fallen-off waymarks, waymarks sometimes pointing the wrong way. And no help from Bradford Council. Creating these circular walks in the parish with our own custom designed waymarks seemed the answer to at least part of the problem.
Each Stroll lies entirely within Silsden parish, is between 3 and 4 miles, is circular and is very different from its neighbours. The water meadows, canal and river down below differ utterly from the shallow windy bowl of fields in the north. The first has bustle; the last has silence. All have superb views of a lovely parish.
Stiles can present problems. Some have stone steps that only grudgingly jut, or whose gap is narrow enough to make you inhale sharply or worry about your ankle. But with care and patience (and a helping hand perhaps), they can all be got over. Gates may need lifting slightly to release the latch – and remember ALWAYS to leave the gate as you found it. Paths are not always clear on the ground – so, trust the instructions! Several Strolls have boggy to very boggy areas, but again just take care going across (or round) them. You’ll not drown. This IS the country. Cows will usually move away from you – just keep your head down and ignore them. Do walk well clear around cows with calves. They’ll not bother you if you don’t frighten them.
In summer ensure you wear sun blocker, a hat and take plenty of water in a backpack. Dress appropriately, especially in winter when some light rainwear stuffed in your pack is helpful. Other than in droughts, boots are as near a must as dammit. They don’t have to be costly, just comfortable for these short hikes. If you are uncertain on your feet, a walking pole (or even two) is very helpful, and is almost a badge of honour these days!
Along with these Strolls are some notes provided by David Mason of the Local History Group. I’m hugely indebted to him for these – the Strolls are intended above all to bring the countryside and its local heritage to life for the people of Silsden by walking and reading, and his notes did this for me. I hope they will for you as well.
Phase 1 Strolls (1-4) were funded by Silsden Council; phase 2 Strolls (5-8) owe their existence to the sponsorship of West Riding Ramblers and to Keighley Rotarians; all were finally in place by August 2015. Phase 3 - the Silsden Circle - 7½ miles clockwise and anti-clockwise around the town - was in place Spring 2016, thanks to Keighley Community Chest and Sovereign Health Charitable Trust ; and then finally phase 4, the three Harry Tillotson Silsden Strides of >7 miles, are finally in place as of September 2016. My warmest thanks to all the sponsors for their generosity. The Silsden Circuit, 15½ miles along the parish boundaries, formed from the peripheries of the Strolls, Circles and Strides is online as of November 2016.
If you have any good words, or spot an error in directions or on the ground, or have criticisms of any of these walks, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also see the project with photos on Facebook under Silsden Strolls.
Allan Friswell (September 2016)
Location of Silsden Strolls 1 - 8
Location of Silsden Circles and Silsden Strides