Historic River Pathway Set to be Upgraded

A local environment charity is set to start work on improving an historic pathway to enable more people enjoy the River Worth, following a boost of almost £60k from the Keighley Towns Fund.

The Government-funded Towns Fund project will see the Aire River Trust spend £56,312 on the Walk Mill path which connects Low Mill Lane to Park Lane. The resurfacing of the path, which runs parallel with the River Worth upstream from Keighley train station, is part of a series of path improvements designed to encourage more people to explore the river and provide safe, green travel routes through the town.

“The Walk” as it is locally known, is a historic route taken by textile workers from town to the 19th century Walk Mills complex. Over recent years, a spate of paving stones thefts have left the surface of the alleyway a patchwork of mud, tarmac, and broken slabs.

Volunteers from the Aire River Trust charity and local group, the River Worth Friends, have already cut back vegetation and resurfaced more than 150m of footpath along The Walk, running upstream from Park Lane towards Ingrow.

Simon Watts, the Aire River Trust’s Operations Manager said, “The Worth Way is a delightful, 11-mile circular walk that connects Keighley and Oxenhope. It takes in some fabulous sections of the River Worth and offers the opportunity to glimpse a wealth of wildlife from otters to dippers. We’re delighted to have the support of the Keighley Towns Fund and Keighley Big Local to help us care for Keighley’s River Worth and to support local groups along the river. Thanks to them we have an exciting opportunity to restore wildlife to the river and tackle issues like litter and pollution.”

Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw said: “The Keighley Towns Fund supports many projects across the area and all are varied and deserving. It is wonderful to see the towns unique heritage celebrated alongside the incredible wildlife of the river. We are so pleased to be able to support this crucial work which will ensure many more people can enjoy it for years to come.”

Ian Hayfield, Chairman of the Keighley Towns Fund said: “We are delighted to be able to support vital environmental projects like these through the Towns Fund. This work will make such a difference to what is a really special part of the town. The work of the volunteers at the Aire River Trust is incredible and we’ll look forward to seeing the finished results.”

Shaun O’Hare from Big Local, which has supported the project with £20,000 of funding, said: "Keighley Big Local receives funds from Local Trust to support communities in the Keighley Valley identify local needs and take action to meet them. We work with others to help communities in Keighley gain the skills and confidence to make a difference. The "River Worth restoration project" delivered by the Aire Rivers Trust is a great example of a grass roots project doing this. When the opportunity appeared, the Keighley Big Local Partnership did not hesitate to support the project conceived by the Trust and River Worth Friends".

About Aire River Trust

Volunteers from the Aire River Trust’s “River Worth Restoration” project join up twice a week to litter pick, improve footpaths and care for spaces for nature along the Rivers Aire and Worth.

The footpath improvements along the River Worth will be followed in 2024 with new signage along the Worth Way and a handrail at Woodhouse Road.

The work is part of a wider programme of work that the Trust is delivering along the River Worth to improve access and enhance habitats along the river Worth corridor. Their staff and volunteers have recently been out searching for misconnected sewers, preparing to create new habitat for fish at Damen’s Nature Reserve and looking for river restoration opportunities along the valley. If you are a local group or landowner who would like to improve your river, please get in touch.

Big Local is a National Lottery funded programme run by the Local Trust which has awarded an area of Keighley £1 million to help improve quality of life for local residents. All decisions about how that money is spent have to be made by people who live, work or play in the area.