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Topic : Weekend Walk: Silsden Circular

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22/01/2017 : 08:14:51      reply with quote

This is a pleasant walk on the north side of the Aire Valley between Keighley and Skipton.

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Silsden is an unspoilt former mill town, currently with a population of just over 8,000. It was once a centre of nail-making, with over 200 small forges.

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22/01/2017 : 09:41:20      reply with quote

Nail-making, which was a staple industry of Silsden for over 150 years, begun in 1761 by one William West who arrived from the Midlands and inspired local farmers to set up their individual small forges to boost their income from agriculture.
Larger smithies followed, and in the glory days of the industry there were 250 forges in
Silsden producing nails for the construction industry and for boots and shoes.
Speaking of footwear, the manufacture of clog irons was a spin-off of the nail-making industry, carried out in Silsden at the Sykes Lane forge of Thomas Green from 1860. When production ceased in 1950 it had been the last smithy in the world devoted exclusively to the production of clog irons.
I learned all this, and much more, from dipping into Discovering Silsden, by former Keighley News journalist Cathy Liddle. Its sub-title is "Twelve heritage walks", and that indeed is what you get - a range of outings between two and eight miles from the writer's home village written so knowledgeably and affectionately that they'll make you want to head off up the Aire Valley and see for yourself the places they visit.
But you get much more than walk routes with clear direction. You get lots of local history, entertainingly written-up, in this nicely-produced, glossy book with its archive and modern photographs and its illustrations by Gillian Highan.
You learn, for instance, that the history of lime kilns in and around Silsden stretches back to the 13th century. In them limestone was burned to produce lime to be spread on the soil to reduce its acidity.
"It's no coincidence that Silsden's lime kilns were almost all sited around here the Seven Hills area because the field systems between Henholme Lane and Holden were long known as the Sour Lands," writes the author, who adds that local sportsman used the lime to create bowls which were used in challenge matches between Silsden and Addingham.
"Long-buried bowls continued to be unearthed in this area of Silsden right until the 1930s," she reveals.
Copies of Discovering Silsden, by Cathy Liddle, published by Sleepy Heron of Silsden.
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