1) Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve, Elland, access from Brookfoot Mills, Elland Rd, Brighouse HD6 2RW
Distance- 4 miles.
Difficulty level - 1 & 2 out of 5 (1 being easy, 5 being difficult terrain.
Mostly flat with a few hills ( manual wheelchair users may need some assistance.
Some good quality paths , large sections on compacted gravel. A few slopes to get up and down.
Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve is a true hidden gem of Calderdale.
They really have made the site as accessible as possible considering the topography of the site.
Cromwell Bottom N Reserve is a delightful privately-run woodland and meadow nature reserve. The committee, volunteers and members are all very forward thinking and helpful. Very approachable and obliging.
There is a café and disables loo on site, in a cabin (see the map. There are several gates both in and around the reserve so taking a Radar key is a must.
Paths- generally the paths are compacted gravel and dirt, the route marked by a thick red line is excellent for wheeled visitors. There are a few slopes to negotiate, long but not too steep, assistance may be required due to tired arms if self-propelling. The great thing about the site is like anywhere – you can choose how much ground you want to cover according to your fitness etc or battery power if using a power chair or powered front wheel.
My suggested route is about 4 miles in total.
The start is from the road adjacent and leading to Brookfoot Mills, Elland. Sadly, no specific disabled parking area so I park and position a small traffic cone near my vehicle to maintain the space I require.
From the car head to the canal and turn right- you will be on the tow path on the right of the canal. Follow the canal to a stone and cobbled bridge, very wide but the cobbles could be slippy if wet. It’s not a hugely steep bridge to cross. On the other side bear right and follow the canal until you reach Cromwell Bottom Lock. Just after the lock you will see a gate to Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve. Unlock the gate with your Radar key and the gate will swing toward you. Lots of room to pass. Please re-secure the gate whilst you are in the reserve. Follow the path into the woods. Look out for the many nest and bat boxes that are in the trees.
The path is wide and compacted so is good for wheels. Soon you come to a left turn, this is a wide path but does get narrow, there are steps at the far end. Also, the path is elevated with drops either side – so please don’t go any further than the very wide initial section of this path. Carry on along the main path – soon you will reach a timber viewing platform on your left. The left side of this has a modified handrail to allow those on wheels and children to enjoy the view. Look out for deer and reed dwelling birds here.
From the platform stay on the obvious path, ignore the little path that goes back to the canal on your right – keep straight then cross the very wide bridge over the river. Look out for Herons on the banks below you. Across the bridge and take the right-hand path to a bench, follow this path downward and you come to a bird feeding station on your right. The wheeled viewing section is just after the lower level stepped viewing point. Look out for all the common birds but also Nuthatch, Bullfinch, I saw Goldcrests here too.
After the feeding station keep to the path. Soon you come to a crossroads, Here you can go to the café and disabled loo if it’s a Sunday , Sunday is the only day that these are available – sadly due to the Corona Virus these remain closed, but do check Cromwell Bottoms own web site and social media sites to see if these have opened. To get to the café and toilets you go through the gate – again a Radar key is needed, once through the gate bear right across another wide bridge over the river. You will soon come to the cabins and facilities.
From the café – back to the gate – but pass it and keep going on the path by the river. You will soon reach another gate on your left. Here you can either re-enter the reserve or do as I did which is follow the path further. You will see a packhorse bridge on your right, take the path just after this and you can go through more wood and eventually find yourself with elevated views of the river. Look out for Kingfishers, Herons and Deer. From this point head back the way you came, left at the packhorse bridge then re-enter the reserve by the Radar key gate now on your right. Once through the gate bear right and head up the hill, it’s not too steep but will tire your arms if on a manual wheelchair or mountain trike, assistance may be required here. This path takes you up to the meadows, great for butterflies, moths and small mammals. Follow the main path, it eventually brings you down to just above the bird feeding station you passed earlier. You will see steps in front of you – but as you near you can bear right and go down the accessible slope. Now back on the main path, bear right.
After the bridge over the river you will see a well-made path on your right- a linear route that takes in more woodland and eventually more meadow. Also, a lovely pond dipping and viewing platform on your right. Accessed by a little swing gate – the gap is wide to accommodate power and wheelchairs. From here you can head further on or turn around and head back to the main path. It is uphill but not too steep. Once you get to the main path turn right and head back to the gate that you initially entered the reserve on.
Once back on the canal you may see a barge further along the path, it moves location but if there they do refreshments, ice creams etc.
Then back to the car by following the canal ( on your left) towpath.