Saturday, 20 April 2019

Otley to Fiji via Knotford Nook

The granddaughter of a friend of mine is planning to spend her summer volunteering for an organisation called 'Think Pacific' in Fiji, partnered with the Fijian government and aiming to improve health and educational opportunities for underprivileged children across the islands. She needs to raise some money to pay for her expedition costs, so a number of us got together for a fundraising walk.

We started by the clock tower and the buttercross in the centre of Otley, walking through the town to the River Wharfe, then downriver to some lakes known as Knotford Nook and back to the town. It was a gentle walk of about 4 miles though long enough for me on a very dull and rather cold morning. Tea and cakes afterwards soon warmed us up again.

I enjoyed it, though I usually avoid walking in groups as it doesn't really fit with stopping to take photos every few minutes. I'm always running to catch up!

I see that I've not shown many photos of Otley on my blog. I must go back sometime and take some more as it's an interesting little town, famous for its cattle market and for being the birthplace of Thomas Chippendale, the Georgian furniture maker.

There's a nice park beside the river, Wharfemeadows, which leads to a good children's playground and to the now-closed Otley Lido open air swimming pool. I gather there is a local group campaigning to have the Lido reopened.

The weir on the river beside the park has two hydro-electric Archimedean Screws installed to provide power for a new housing development. At one time there was a paper mill there and some of the old buildings have been repurposed.

The further downriver you walk, the more peaceful it gets, though there is a good wide footpath on both banks.

The mid-point of our walk was the lakes at Knotford Nook. At one time you could have a lovely walk right round the lakes, which were a haven for birds. Now, they are all run as private fishing lakes and have hefty fences around them, making it impossible to get near to the water or even see much. Annoyingly the fence's mesh was too small even to poke the camera lens through.

Walking back towards Otley, the route took us through fields at the base of Otley Chevin, the wooded ridge that overlooks the town.

There were lambs:

and blossom trees. This is a nature reserve called Gallows Hill, on the site where once there was a sewage treatment works (and perhaps before that, something even more unsavoury?)

They've planted trees, made footpaths and done some serious hedgelaying, a traditional country craft that aims to keep hedges thick and healthy, forming a stock-proof barrier and making them a haven for wildlife.


  1. We boy pupils of Prince Henry's were marched in file down to the Lido to swim in the bitterly cold water for 30 minutes. The double PT. was meant to toughen us up, and it certainly did. The usual Friday detention meant standing alone in the big hall listening to our superb choir rehearse the "Messiah". I discovered the sheer joy of classical music and always aimed to be given a detention by sauntering slowly thru the lovely river gardens to inspect the rowing boats. Late again! More music!

  2. What a lovely area for a walk. I hope that you all raised a lot of money for her cause.

  3. Fiji - what an adventure! Funny how we sometimes overlook taking photos in places right on our doorstep. I hope that the weather has warmed up enough for you now.

  4. Gosh they have done well converting the sewerage area to what it is now, it's so pretty.