We soon turned south, Gargrave being the furthest point north that we will go, and met the first of the many swing bridges we will encounter on our journey into Leeds. Taking it in turns to open the bridges speeded up our progress.
Spotted this push butty with a cover between the two sections.
After two hours we reached Skipton and moored up near the Herriot Hotel. Walking into Skipton after coffee we went over an aqueduct which takes the canal over the Eller Beck. The adjacent corn mills were highly mechanised being steam powered and produced animal feed, flour and probably supplied the nearby brewery. They are now very smart apartments.
Skipton is a bustling town much larger and busier than I had thought it would be and of course home to the headquarters of the Skipton Building Society. The name means “Sheep Town” and the reason is very evident in all the surrounding fields. It still has a few cobbled streets and a church on the hill below the castle.
The Springs Branch of the canal leaves at the junction in the town and was built in the 1770’s through a deep ravine alongside Eller beck at the back of the castle and a walk up the path passed the Corn Mill leads you up into the Castle Woods and to the Round Dam where the water for the mill was diverted from the beck.
At this time of year the woods are full of wild garlic. The circular walk brings you back to the Castle which was built in Norman times to guard the strategic routes into the Aire Gap from the east.
Back in town there is a large array of shops and interesting arcades like Craven Court. At the bottom of the high street is a plaque to commemorate Thomas Spencer born here in 1851 and co-founder of Marks and Spencer. However despite the significance there is only an M & S Food Hall in the town centre. At the canal Junction is a sculpture in memory of Freddie Truman 1931-2006, the famous Yorkshire Cricketer, unveiled by Veronica Truman in 2010.