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Walk: Around Cliffe Castle
This week I repeated one of my frequent walks which is around Cliffe Castle at Keighley.
When is a castle not a castle? The answer is when it is the former home of a man who made his fortune from the production of woolen goods. This circular stroll runs close to the River Aire.
Turn left down the steep spring Gradens Lane and then sharp right through an archway lined with trees.
The Castle is not as old as it looks but it is no less impressive for all that. In 1828 Christopher Netherwood built Cliffe Hall in the Tudor style. Then, in 1848 the Butterfield family, who had made their money in textiles bought the hall, expanded the grounds from 20 acres to 300 acres and converted the building into a “Gothic” castle. In 1949 the estate was bought by Keighley Council and set it up as a museum. Some idea of how affluent the Butterfields were can be seen by looking at a room inside and by looking at a painting of the man of fortune surrounded by some lovely furniture.
The Cliffe Castle exhibits include displays of local crafts and industries.
I returned from the museum to the impressive entrance and turned left along the side of the castle. Next you need to climb a set of solid stone steps.
From the steps turn right through gardens lined with seats and to the left are greenhouses and aviaries which are open to the public.
These places are obviously seen at their best in the summer but local people still visit in the winter just to feed the wild birds.
There is a cafe thereabouts and from this follow a footpath which twists and descends gently.
To the left is a children’s playground. Bear left and descend through a delightful area of woodland. Grey squirrels are common here.
The route bears right and then continues straight ahead. Ignore the pedestrian access to the A6068 road to Steeton. Pass an old fountain on the right where there are views up to the castle.
Away to the left are hills showing clearly that Keighley is set in the valley of the River Aire. This stretch was once heavily polluted from the Industrial Revolution but it has been much cleaner in recent years.
This has been the result of less industry but also by an impressive clean-up campaign. Looking at my diary for the summer of 2008 I noted that the water level was so low that wildlife was beginning to suffer. What a contrast to 2012.
Keep following the circular path around the park, passing another large fountain to the right and some more majestic trees to the left. This bit of woodland is dominated by oak.
Let us hope our most famous species does not suffer the same fate as elm and ash.
The route swings right and returns to the entrance and the car park beyond.
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