Otley walk

Preston and Leyland Citizen: Otley walk Otley walk

Last week I was strolling around Chipping and regretting the closure of a chairworks.

This set me thinking about the history of furniture and the fame of Chippendale. He was a northern lad who lived in Otley and so I set off to stroll through his working area.

Like so many of the West Yorkshire market towns Otley is surrounded by really beautiful countryside which is an ideal walking area.

1. Start from the church which is full to the brim of fascinating history. There is a collection of fragmented Anglo-Saxon crosses and these prove that there is a long Christian heritage here.

There is also an Anglo-Danish grave slab. The present church is mainly Norman but in the churchyard is a much more modern miracle.

It is a memorial commemorating the men who died whilst construction the railway tunnel (built between 1845 and 1849) at nearby Bramhope.

Before setting off on the main walk a stroll of less than a quarter of a mile leads doen to the River Wharfe where rowing boats can be hired for the season.

Between the river and the church a plague marks the birthplace of Thomas Chippendale (1719 - 1779), the famous furniture maker and here too then is an impressive statue of the man himself.

From the church look for station road and a footpath sign marked Chevin. Follow this unmade road to a bridge.

2. The metal bridge looks as if it should span a railway but in fact it now carries the A660 road. Cross over this bridge and turn left. In about 50 yards look for a right turn to a path marked York Gate.

3. The footpath climbs steeply and to the left is the White House visitors centre. Here there are displays of local history and natural history.

This is the place to rest awhile to thank Major Fawkes of Farnley Hall who gave this land to the people of Otley in 1944 to praise the memory of those who were being killed in the war. In 1989 the 700 acres was designated as a Nature Reserve.

Continue along York Gate which is a Roman road linking York with Tadcaster, Ilkley and Otley. Continue close to the old Royalty pub to reach the surprise view from which can be seen the town in the dip below.

4.Turn right along York Gate to a disued quarry. There is a car park here.

5.Just before Woodlands Farm turn right into a footpath leading back down into Otley. I always love the balance between history and natural history and here is the spot to stop, stare and enjoy a bird watch.

Wildlife abounds around this area which is known as the chevin.

Chevin Hall is passed on the left and here can be found birds such as nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker, sparrowhawk and tawny owl where the mammal list includes the graceful roe deerl.

6.Turn right at West Chevin Road. Bear left at the junction with Birdcage Walk. Turn right along Burran Lane to reach the church.

How to get there: Follow the A59 to Skipton and look for the A65 which links from Settle to Ilkley and Leeds. Otley is on the A660 just off the A65. Turn off the A660 onto the A659. A right turn from the town centre leads to the parish church of All Saints on the right. Turn right at the church to reach a car park on the left.

The Walk: 5 miles.

Time: Allow at least 3 hours.

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