The Wharfedale Greenway:

potential map route across the valley
potential map route across the valley

What is a Greenway?

A greenway is a multi-use path alongside a strip of undeveloped land, designed for both recreation and environmental protection. Think of it as a linear park, weaving through urban or rural areas, often following natural corridors like rivers, streams, or ridges. These pathways can also be repurposed from disused railways, canals, or even industrial land.

The Wharfedale Greenway Proposal

The Wharfedale Greenway is a proposed walking, cycling, and horse riding route along the Wharfe valley. When built, it will link Pool-in-Wharfedale, Otley, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Ilkley, Addingham, and onwards to Bolton Abbey and the Yorkshire Dales. Planning for the Greenway is being led by Town and Parish Councils along the route, alongside Local Authorities and Sustrans, the custodian of the National Cycling Network. We’d like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has worked hard to develop this project, including local Councillors. Without them there wouldn’t be a Wharfedale Greenway.

This page pulls together the latest updates as planning for the route continues so do check back – we’ll also share key updates on our social media pages.

The Wharfedale Greenway has been discussed for over a decade, and like any major project there are a number of key milestones which need to be completed. These include identifying route options, agreeing a preferred route, undertaking detailed route investigation, compiling all of the documents needed for a planning application, applying for planning permission, detailed design work, compiling a business case, and then applying for funding.

The route is being planned in different sections:

Section 1

Otley to Burley in Wharfedale Train Station

This section of the route will link the historic market town of Otley with the village of Burley in Wharfedale. The Greenway will run along the line of the Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway. This section of route was closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts. The vast majority of this section will run on a dedicated traffic free route, which will start at Burley in Wharfedale train station and run to the outskirts of Otley and through the town, connecting to shops, businesses, schools and other amenities.

Section 1 Progress

The entire Phase 1 section of the Wharfedale Greenway from Otley to Burley has had planning permission approved, subject to compliance with set conditions. In January 2022, Bradford MDC granted planning permission for the stretch of the Greenway within their boundary, from near Bradford Road, Otley to Burley. Planning permission had already been approved by Leeds City Council for the stretch of the Greenway from Otley to the district boundary (this has since lapsed but will be resubmitted) Preliminary design work for this section is ongoing along with route consultation for Otley town centre. We are also waiting the next set of results to the East of Otley development and how the Greenway would connect and continue onwards to Pool in Wharfedale.

Section 1 Next Steps

The Greenway Steering Committee will now work with Sustrans, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and other external agencies to try to secure the necessary funding to turn the Greenway into a reality. This will include detailed design work (e.g. technical bridge drawings) and creating a business case for funding this section.

Section 2

Otley to Pool-in-Wharfedale

This section sits at the Eastern end of the Wharfedale Greenway. Leaving Otley it will run through the proposed East of Otley development, before terminating in the village of Pool-in-Wharfedale. Leeds City Council has long term plans to continue a Greenway onwards from Pool-in-Wharfedale to Wetherby as part of its Leeds Cycle Network Ambition (opens a jpg)

Section 2 Progress:

An initial feasibility study was conducted in 2014, which proposed following the line of the old railway line which is mostly intact from the outskirts of Otley to Pool in Wharfedale, creating a new traffic free route for walkers and cyclists. Being 10 years since that report was conducted a fresh look will be needed to see how a route could be constructed.

Section 2 Next Steps:

Additional details (e.g. detailed route drawings) are required, as well as discussions, such as with land owners, to confirm that the proposed route is viable.

With the new proposed East of Otley development we will see how those plans include the provision for the Greenway which will give a better indication on how it will continue in to Pool in Wharfedale.

Section 3

Menston Link

This spur will link the Wharfedale Greenway, along the Otley to Burley route, with the village of Menston, which will also be the shortest link to a railway station from Otley.

Section 3 Progress:

Options for this route were first explored in the feasibility study published in 2014. Since then a number of different alignments have been explored and conversations are continuing to agree a proposed route.

A new feasibility study is currently ongoing to investigate possible routes.

Section 3 Next Steps:

Additional details (e.g. detailed route drawings) are required, as well as discussions to confirm that any proposed routes are viable.

Section 4

Burley in Wharfedale Train Station to Ilkley

This section brings the route to the edge of the historic spa town of Ilkley. This part of the railway was saved from the Beeching cuts after significant community opposition. This means that a completely new traffic free route will need to be formed between Burley in Wharfedale and Ben Rhydding, with some on road sections through Burley in Wharfedale.

Section 4 Progress:

Options for this route were laid out as part of a feasibility study in 2017, which covered the route from Burley in Wharfedale Train Station to Addingham. Ilkley Town Council agreed to fund a detailed feasibility study in 2021 which we await the results to be published.

The plans and construction of a new housing development “Centurion Meadows” does show an included provision for the Greenway running along its boundary near the Sun Lane Nature Reserve. From that point on is what the study will be looking at.

Section 4 Next Steps:

Additional details (e.g. detailed route drawings) are required, as well as discussions, such as with multiple land owners, to confirm that the proposed route is viable.

Section 5

Ilkley to Addingham

After navigating a route through Ilkley, this section will create a link to Addingham – a historic village that was once home to 5 textile mills and is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

Section 5 Progress:

Options for this route were laid out as part of a feasibility study in 2017, which covered the route from Burley in Wharfedale to Addingham.

With the new 20mph speed limit around Ilkley this does go some way to supporting safer active travel through the town on any proposed route connecting to schools, businesses, and other amenities.

Having a planned route through the town would also determine where the section from Burley would end/connect to.

Section 5 Next Steps:

Making a decision about how the route travels through Ilkley, and then what route it will follow from Ilkley to Addingham. Once a viable route has been agreed a detailed feasibility study can be undertaken.

Section 6

Addingham to Bolton Bridge

This section brings the Wharfedale Greenway into the Yorkshire Dales, heading towards Bolton Abbey..

Section 6 Progress:

Options for this route were laid out as part of a feasibility study in 2017. Currently there has been no further action on this section.

Section 6 Next Steps:

Additional details such as a fresh feasibility study and detailed route drawings are required, as well as discussions, such as with multiple land owners, to confirm that the proposed route is viable.

Do you have questions?

A project this size will of course bring up some questions and we will do our best to address them and get you the answers. You can read through more information on our faq’s page. If you have a question that is not addressed at this time please contact us with it and we will aim to add it to our list.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Our Supporters Say

Huge thank you for your work, it is much appreciated and an invaluable investment for a healthy and greener future.

– Dom Povey

I’m grateful for the opportunities the Wharfedale Greenway project has brought to our community. It has not only improved connectivity but also enhanced our quality of life.

– Emily Johnson

As a business owner, I’m proud to support the Wharfedale Greenway. It’s a sustainable initiative that benefits both residents and companies in the area.

– Sarah Wilson

Find more Greenways in Yorkshire

Our Core Values


We believe in fostering a sense of belonging and unity among the residents and businesses along the Wharfe Valley. Together, we can create a vibrant and connected community.


Environmental sustainability is at the heart of our mission. By promoting green transportation options and preserving the natural habitat, we strive to create a sustainable future for generations to come.


We value the power of collaboration and believe that by working together with local authorities, businesses, and the community, we can make the Wharfedale Greenway a reality.

Benefits of a Greenway

The Wharfedale Greenway will create a long traffic free corridor that will be perfect for getting active. and create new opportunities for people to visit and explore the Wharfe valley.
Find out how we all could benefit from the Wharfedale Greenway.

What could we get from a Wharfedale Greenway?

Find out more

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