Sail Trainees 13.5 Mile Sponsored Walk


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This year’s cohort of sail-trainees have been working towards gaining their competent-crew certificate from the Royal Yacht Association by taking part in a sponsored walk.  In June and July, they will be carrying out an 8-day sailing trip on the tall ship ‘The Maybe’ embarking from Greenock, Glasgow to voyage through the Minch to the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides, before making their way steadily northwards to the Orkneys and the Shetland Islands to embark at Inverness at the mouth of the Moray Firth.

The sail trainees began their mammoth challenge at Bingley Fire Station. Before slinging on their back-packs and marching up the hill towards an amazing backdrop to Bingley, that is nestled in this picturesque corner of Yorkshire called the Three-Rise locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal. 


This first major hurdle for the Maybe-Sailing sponsored walkers was tackled at some speed, but this was not to be the main feature of the walk, which was all about developing leadership, communication and team work skills.  It was to be a long, hot, tiring and yet exhilarating day, with many challenges, much excitement and lots of happiness along the way. 

In all, the sail trainees walked from 0930hrs to 1800hrs with regular breaks managed by four support teams of parents and staff from St. Bede’s & St. Joseph’s Catholic College and St. Mary’s Voluntary Academy, Menston who provided much needed refreshments at designated comfort break stops.  This important upper-school link, was forged between Danielle Todd in Year 8 at Ignis and Caoimhe Richards from Year 8 at St. Mary’s, Menston.  The partnership had begun in 2015 when the two novice sailors first began sailing as part of a primary-schools link project when St. Bede’s and St. Cuthbert’s partnered up and took twelve sail-trainees and Mrs Winnery, the Head of School at St. Cuthbert’s Primary, to take part in the Isle of Wight, Small Ships Regatta!  

To begin with students had to negotiate two lock-systems along the Leeds to Liverpool Canal known as Three -Rise and Five-Rise locks on the outskirts of Bingley.  These are in fact world famous and impressive staircases of locks built in 1774.  Five-Rise Locks are the steepest lock system on any canal in Britain rising 60 feet in total. 


This was the first challenge of the day which would see the sail-trainees walk through many lock systems and bridges along the tow path to Skipton as they watched the diverse range of wild life along the towpath! 

Our statistics for the event!
Saturday 9th June 2018, 0930hrs – 1800hrs
Weather: Cloudy, fine, warm 19o C
Walk: 13.6 miles (21.9 kilometres) Bingley Church Bridge to Skipton, Brewery Bridge.
Energy: 1,000 kcal (1 million calories)
Ascent: 394 feet (120 metres)
Descent: 457 feet (139 metres)

The first stop of the day came within view of The National Trusts East Riddlesden Hall, a 17th century manor house, built in 1642 by a wealthy Halifax clothier, James Murgatroyd.  The Marquis of Granby public house provided garden and comfort break facilities and the sail trainees saw the arrival of some members of the Bradford Scottish Pipe Band who began to prepare for Riddlesden Gala, resplendent in their colourful kilts and piping regalia.

The walk continued in warm and improving weather conditions and a constant succession of lift bridges that impede the progress of boats were negotiated. Very soon the walkers passed through Keighley, which compared to other industrial towns in the north of England is a clean and pleasant town with a large array of shops and a new shopping centre that is just over the horizon!


Onto Silsden and lunch on the west of Bridge a well contained stone bridge built at the entrance to an original industrial town with attractive canal wharves and an old corn mill dating from 1677.

After lunch the village of Kildwick was soon in sight and has some nicely restored Canal buildings, now private residences. Steep streets and tunnels that go under the canal are interesting features along with the magnificence of the manor house at Kildwick Hall.  Indeed, Kildwick is steeped in history, as St Andrew’s Church is a historically significant early church that has held fragments of 9th century crosses in its walls which were only excavated during restoration work. Clear evidence of the early Anglo-Saxon Christian church built here before the Norman Conquest!

Arriving at the village of Bradley was very enjoyable with its attractive waterfront, and canal side cricket field with match in full flow.

Moving on to enter Skipton along the towpath is probably the best way to enter this strategically important town from the Civil War with its impressive castle. That represents the best preserved 900-year-old castle in Britain!  Originally built as a wooden fort in 1090 by Robert de Romille a Norman baron, to stop rampaging Scots, it was upgraded in 1310 by Robert Clifford to form the current formidable stone castle perched atop a rocky escarpment above Ellerbeck.  During the Civil War it was the last Royalist bastion to fall in the North of England, only yielding after a bitter and entrenched three-year siege by the Parliamentarian forces of Oliver Cromwell.

By six o’clock the weary walkers arrived at Brewery Wharfe opposite Skipton Railway Station and the opulent ‘Herriot’s Hotel with Rhubarb’! Final fact of the day – the walkers had all completed 38,824 individual steps according to Mr Walkers’ Fit-Bit!!