OVER 140 walkers enjoyed a varied programme of guided and themed walks during Burley Festival week.

Highlights included a tour of an upland farm with rare breed sheep, a visit to four beekeepers in Burley and Menston who also gave practical demonstrations, and a walk between a number of open gardens.

Having missed a year due to Covid-19 restrictions, the organising group, Burley-in-Wharfedale Walkers are Welcome, were unsure how many people would be confident about returning to group walking. Their concerns were not realised, however, with a number of walks reaching or nearly reaching maximum permitted numbers.

David Asher, Chair of the group, said: “We were very pleased at how well the walking programme for the Festival worked out this year, thanks to our walk leaders and also the large number of guides and hosts who gave up their time to inform and entertain our walkers. We repeated a number of our popular walks from previous years, such as our Archaeology walk on Burley Moor and a visit to Ben Rhydding Nature Reserve, and these were again well supported. However, our most popular walks this year turned out to be a tour of a number of beautiful gardens in the village, our informative visits to Burley and Menston beekeepers, and the walk and instructive tour of West Moor House Farm above Middleton by farmers Rob and Penny Paisley.”

Another well attended walk included the first two stages of the Yorkshire Heritage Way from Bradford Cathedral to Saltaire and Burley. This long distance route also passes through Brimham Rocks and Fountains Abbey after Burley, terminating at Ripon Cathedral, and will be formally launched at Bradford Cathedral in 2022 following the publication of a guide book. A descriptive walk by former signalman Bill Smith, who spent 20 years operating the Burley Junction signal box also proved a big hit. Bill, who had recently celebrated his 90th birthday, walked the majority of the route along the old Burley to Otley railway line and achieved his ambition of finding the site of the Milnerwood signal box, which he also operated. The group also resurrected ‘Beating the Bounds’ a walk around the 12 mile perimeter of Burley Parish. This was undertaken annually on Rogation Sunday up until about 1901, in order to bless the fields and remind residents where the village boundary was.

David Asher added: “We will start planning for the 2022 Festival shortly. By then we hope we can include some of our walks that include indoor visits as well. Our AGM will be held at Burley Library on Wednesday 13 October, starting at 7.30pm, and we would welcome any suggestions for Festival walks at the meeting. Our speaker will be David Shaftoe from Open Country, the Yorkshire based charity which is working to improve access to the countryside for all, whatever form of disability they may have. David has been advising the group for the past couple of years in order to help make footpaths around the village as accessible as possible. Our monthly guided walks programme is also restarting this month without the need to pre-book. If anyone is interested in our Friday 3 mile, Sunday 5 mile, and Sunday 8 to 10 mile walks, please get in touch via email burleywalkersarewelcome@gmail.com”