Bingley Five Rise Locks

We decided to visit Bingley to view the famous Five Rise Lock staircase on the Leeds Liverpool canal, which is the steepest in Britain.  Bingley is located in West Yorkshire and can be accessed by train as Bingley is on the Airedale Line with regular services from Leeds and Bradford.  The Locks are approximately half a mile from the town centre just off Beck Lane and street parking is available nearby.

Bingley Five Rise Locks
Traditional signpost at the Five Rise Locks, Bingley
Bingley Five Rise Locks
Lock keeper and boater operating the ground paddle

The Locks opened in 1774 and rise a total of 60 feet allowing boats to be lifted or lowered in five stages.  A lock staircase is where the locks open directly from one to another, meaning that the top gate of one forms the bottom gate of the next.  As a boat enters the lock chamber to descend the staircase the water level rises slightly and the excess flows via a channel at each side of the lock.  After waiting a short time we were fortunate to be able to see a narrowboat enter the Locks and watch as the water level slowly rises to allow the boat to pass through to the next gate.

Bingley Five Rise Locks
Looking down the lock staircase with the mills of Bingley behind

Because of the difficulty of working a lock staircase and with many boaters being first time handlers who have hired a canal boat for a one or two week holiday, a full-time lock keeper is employed at the Five Rise Locks during daylight hours.  We watched him assisting a canal boat entering the lock chamber and helping the boaters with the lock gates.  Overnight, the lock gates are padlocked so approaching boats need to find a suitable overnight mooring.

Geese, Bingley Five Rise Locks
Geese and goslings at the Five Rise Locks
Heron, Bingley Five Rise Locks
This heron had just found its lunch

As well as watching a boat navigate its way up the lock staircase there was also plenty of wildlife to observe on the water.  We spotted a goose with goslings, duck and ducklings and this heron who had just caught a huge fish and soon disappeared into the bushes to devour it.

Five Rise Locks Cafe, Bingley
Five Rise Locks Cafe, Bingley

At the top of the staircase there are moorings available and a very attractive small cafe, The Five Rise Locks where we enjoyed pots of tea and toasted tea cakes.  The cafe is housed in a former stable block and gives a warm welcome to boaters and tourists alike.  Before leaving the canal we retraced our steps down the side of the staircase and continued a little further along the towpath until we reached the Three Lock Staircase which has a height of 9 metres (30 feet).

Bingley Three Rise Locks
Bingley Three Rise Locks

Leaving the canal tow path we walked the short distance to the centre of Bingley to explore the town.  Crossing the main street we spotted the old market hall and Buttercross constructed in 1753.  Reading the plaque, we learnt that Bingley was first granted its market charter by King John in 1212.  The Buttercross was the place where people would come to buy and sell local butter, milk and eggs.  Bingley still has an open market but nowadays it is to be found in the refurbished town square each Friday and Saturday.

Bingley Market Place and Buttercross
Bingley Market Place and Buttercross

Just behind the Buttercross lies Myrtle Park and from there we enjoyed a short walk along the banks of the River Aire towards Bingley Parish church.  All Saints church dates back to Norman times with the present structure built between 1491-1547.  It was interesting to see that a number of the very old gravestones had been moved and re-located into the wall alongside the path leading to the church entrance.  This seemed such a sensible idea as so often old tombstones have fallen into disrepair and become hazardous.

Bingley Parish Church
Bingley Parish Church

Completing our tour of Bingley, we passed the whitewashed Old White Horse pub which stands close to the church.  This former coaching inn is thought to be the oldest pub in Bingley and dates back to the mid 17th century although there is evidence that a hostelry has been on this site since 1579.

Old White Horse Pub, Bingley
Old White Horse Pub, Bingley

A short walk back up the hill took us to the railway station from where we returned home after a pleasurable day exploring Bingley.


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Discovering waterside Leeds

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Suggested accommodation in the surrounding area:

The Wheatley Arms, Ilkley


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Bingley, Five Rise Locks



81 thoughts on “Bingley Five Rise Locks

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  8. I went through these locks many, many years ago on a holiday with my family when I was little. I have such fond memories of it, we loved getting out to do the locks! I was mostly good at dropping things (including myself) into the canal but hey, I thought it was fun. Great post, brought back a lot of memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A very British holiday :- o) thank you, brought back memories of living very near a canal in Congleton, Cheshire.
    Try an e-book called Narrow Margins by Marie Browne, about a family who had to give up their home in Birmingham, and decided to live on a canal boat, without any experience of narrow boats – true story.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. Holy moly, how awesome! This is an amazing thing for me, because I grew up near a hydroelctric dam with a lock! Amazing photos that you captured, it makes you feel like you’re there…thanks for allowing us to take a view into your world!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fantastic picture of the heron! Living in a canal village regularly interspersed with single locks, I have wanted to visit Bingley 5 Rise for a while and never made it. You’ve put it back in my head again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A sunny surprise at the end there with Bingley. The skies are noticeably bluer. 🙂 🙂 We didn’t go into the village but I remember watching the boats with fascination when our son was still a toddler. More fond memories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Fascinating! While in the UK a few years ago, my wife and I spent a great deal of time on the wonderful canal tow paths. I fantasized about doing a tour on the water, but after seeing how much work (and skill) was required on Timothy and Prunella’s Great Canal Journeys, I’ve thought I might just rent on where it’s docked!

    Thanks for the tour and the descriptions. Beautiful pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Reading your story’s is like traveling but staying home for some people that never got or get a chance to travel love to read stuff like this so we can see the world through your eyes so thank you so much it mean slot your doing this for the ones that can’t travel

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I am sorry for messing up that message I was saying your story’s are Fascinating and I am enjoying reading them after a while it’s hard to see the screen but I will be getting back to read more thank you

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post! A very pleasant place to spend some time. The whole process of using the locks is fascinating. I have seen a number of TV shows from Britain featuring narrow boats and the locks. We visited the Devises a few years ago. A different type I know but so many locks! We loved seeing them up close and we too were fortunate to have narrow boats passing through. So saw them in action! Thanks for sharing!


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  18. clsooner16

    What a lovely place to visit. After reading your post I want to visit Bingley and have a nice tea while watching the locks. I am mesmerized by the engineering of locks. That this was built so meant years ago proves one again how marvelous Britain’s were centuries past. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When our children were small we hired narrow boasts for one week holidays in northern France. That was great fun and very easy as the French have lock keepers assisting on each lock. I’d like to take a trip in England as well now.


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