Walk 154: Baildon – Escholt Circular (Emmerdale Walk)

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5.2 miles (8.3 km)

Time to walk: Because it was hot, because it’s stunning & because there’s a pub, it took us 3.5 hours. It can obviously be done a lot quicker, but I hope you take the time to stop & enjoy the beauty of your surroundings

Difficulty: A mixture of hard, field & track paths. There are no stiles, however this is a very hilly walk, especially the finally section

Parking: In the public car park in the centre of Baildon (£2 per day)

Public toilets: Pubs & cafes in both villages

Map of the route:

I did this walk on a couple of days away in West Yorkshire in June 2021. It begins in the high-up town of Baildon, which I also had a look around as they have a small town trail

From there it heads downhill, & I mean downhill, all the way to the halfway point of the walk, in the beautiful village of Escholt, best known for being ‘Emmerdale’ before it moved to a purpose built studio set

From there it’s some glorious riverside & nature reserve walking, before turning back for a sustained, steep climb back to the start. It’s truly beautiful countryside & one that I’m very happy to share with you…in fact it’s one of the walks that made us think about “Dave’s Away Day’s” in 2022

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts in Baildon which lies about 3 miles north of Bradford. The name originally means ‘circle hill’ & the town definitely sits on one as we’ll see on this walk. Dating back to the Bronze Age, in the Industrial Revolution Baildon was renowned for its woollen industry. These days it’s more of a commuter town for Leeds

Where else to start in Baildon than at the Frances Ferrand memorial fountain, known locally as the ‘Potted Meat Stick’. This was built by Baron Amphlett of Somerset as a memorial to his mother-in-law, Frances Ferrand

It still stands today to the eastern side of Browgate. In 1925 the monument was put at threat when plans were produced to replace in with a bus terminus. In the 1960s the monument was removed & dismantled, however, in 1986 the Mechanics Institute raised funds to take it out of storage & restore it

2. Look across the road to the left & on top of the hill. You can just make out the Moravian Church which was built around 1868…

Across the road on the small paved area are what remains of the stocks & a sandstone pillar thought to be the remains of a mediaeval cross

3. From the Potted Meat Stick turn round & walk up Hall Cliffe…

On the right’s the Church of St John the Evangelist, which was built in 1848 though the south tower was not added until 1928

4. Continue up the road. Every so often on a walk you come across a real gem. On the left’s the entrance to Hall Cliffe Community Garden

This walk’s only jut started, but I bet you’re going to take some time to explore & also maybe buy some of the numerous plants that are on sale here – just pop your money through the letter box of the house around the corner

Until 2004 this area was the derelict concrete playground of the local school. It opened in 2005 & maintained purely by local volunteers

There’s literally every kind of garden here & for all ages. All the plants are professionally signed too

5. Come back out of the garden & continue along Hall Cliffe, crossing over the roundabout & along Ladderbanks Lane…

There’s some seriously impressive properties along here, especially on the left side. Eventually the lane narrows &, you’ll now notice, begins to descend…

6. Suddenly the lane opens up again & there are fabulous views across the valley…

Our route lies in the direction of the footpath sign, down the even narrower alley, which now becomes steeper as you descend. It’s at this point that you start thinking what goes down must come up!

7. At the bottom of the alley pass through the gate & continue straight across the track through the next gate…

Walk down the hill towards Tong Park Lake – these really are magnificent views. Pass through the gate at the bottom to arrive at a stunning lake…

The lake has a dam & there was once a mill close by

8. Follow the lake path round to the left, passing Tong Park Escholt Cricket Club…

…& going through another gate & then the bridge over the babbling Gill Beck

9. Almost immediately the path splits at a marker post. Our route is the right path that follows Gill Beck

This is a beautiful, vibrant stream & there were some families picnicking by it. It’s well worth spending a few peaceful moments

10. As the path bends the magnificent viaduct on the golf course comes into view. The route is now about to follow & cross the golf course so care is required

Look for the large oak tree across the fairway. That’s the route & when you get there you’ll see the marker post

11. The marker tells you to continue over the makeshift bridge past the tree…

…& then past through a small copse

12. At the end of the copse the path opens up once more with another golf fairway ahead. You’ll see the footpath arrow’s posting diagonally left – that is NOT your direction

You need to head to the small ditch bridge in front of you & then bear slightly diagonally right past the back of the green into the obvious hole in the trees

13. Once in the trees pass through the ‘squeeze’…

…& then the stone pillar, with the conveniently placed arrow

14. The track emerges from the trees into the open once more, continuing straight to arrive at a hard path…

Follow the path to the left around the tree & continue straight ahead, across the track & down the gravel drive past some properties

15. The gravel track turns in a hard surface. Pass through the open gate & turn right down the lane…

At the junction, turn right & walk over the railway bridge to the busy main road

There’s more fantastic views down to the river valley that we’ll be following on the return route back to Baildon

16. The route lies directly ahead down the tree-lined alley across the main road. Please be careful & take your time crossing the road as it’s very busy & the traffic moves quickly

Once more the path heads downwards…it’s now moving towards the River Aire which we’ll follow on much of the return journey

17. Eventually it levels out & becomes a hard surface once more. Look out for the lamp post on the right. Literally the other side of it is a narrow path taking you down to the road…

…& I wish I’d worn long trousers as it was full of nettles!

18. On reaching the road, turn left passing the well-kept allotments & follow the road up the incline to arrive in beautiful Esholt…

And there ahead of you is your refreshment stop…The Woolpack Inn

19. The name “Esholt” indicates that the village was first established in a heavily wooded area of ash trees. The estate is currently owned by Yorkshire Water

From 1976 to 1996 Esholt was used for outside location shots for the Yorkshire Television drama series, Emmerdale Farm. The series relocated to a purpose built set based on the layout of Esholt on the Harewood estate in Leeds

During the time when the village was used as a location, the name of the village pub was changed from The Commercial Inn to The Woolpack, when the landlord tired of the inconvenience caused by the frequent pub sign changes

You can visit other locations from the soap in the village such as the Post Office & shop, the Church & the Vets

20. Refreshments over, retrace your steps down the road, past the allotments & the rather incredibly manicured cricket ground & football pitch…

Continue along the lane, crossing the bridge

21. The road bends left passing a mobile home site & then some properties on the right…

Look for a footpath sign on the left leading into a meadow

22. The next part of this walk follows the path alongside the River Aire on your left & is simply stunning…

92 miles long the Aire starts at one of my favourite places, Malham Tarn & becomes a subterranean stream at ‘Water Sinks’ about one mile before the top of Malham Cove. On its course it flows through Skipton, Keighley, Saltaire, Leeds, Castleford. Its lower reaches forms part of the boundary between North Yorkshire & the East Riding of Yorkshire

The River Aire finally empties into the River Ouse

23. Pass through the gate…

…& continue in the same direction

24. The path reaches a junction & the route continues through the small gate straight ahead…

Before going through the gate though, walk out onto the long bridge across the river & take a few moments to enjoy what a splendid area this is…

25. Once through the small gate the track still follows the river, but now becomes a hard surface…

…to arrive at another gate which is the entrance to the Denso Marten Nature Reserve

26. This 7 acre site is simply quite stunning, with the river flowing to your left & an incredible amount of birdsong. It was created in 1991 on Denso Marston factory washland for the benefit of wildlife, community enjoyment & education

27. Shortly a wire fence appears on the right of the path, which is a sign to start looking for a footpath marker…

You’ll soon see this with the path veering off to the right

28. Remember that saying at the start of this walk that “What goes down…” Well from this point the rest of the walk is completely uphill back into Baildon. Continue up the narrow alleyway to arrive in an industrial estate

Follow the road right & up to the main road

29. This is the busy main road you crossed earlier so again, take care. Walk straight over & up Fyfe Lane…if you think this is steep, it’s only a training exercise for what’s to come!

Continue all the way to the top where the road runs out…

Turn right along the track

30. After a few yards turn left over the railway bridge…

…& now the climbing really begins!

31. Keep straight ahead to eventually arrive at a green area…

…& now ascend Brook Hill above. The area at the top is one of the oldest parts of Baildon

32. At Station Road, turn left, then cross over & continue up Flower Mount, which leads into a small alley flanked by walls at the top

This is the steepest part of the return leg & there’s also steps thrown in too!

33. Emerge into a close at the top & then continue straight across up towards the Church…

…& then continue to the road which brings you out almost opposite the Community Garden

34. Now turn left to return to the Potted Meat Stick & the start of this walk…

So that it! A lovely walk amongst some stunning countryside & only just out of the cities of Bradford & Leeds

The halfway incentive of The Woolpack is also good, but that stretch along the river through the Nature Reserve is pretty special

Go Walk!