Heavy rain the night before had caused a road closure due to flooding and we had to detour to reach Gargrave. On this section of the canal, we proceeded through the upper reaches of Airedale, a flat wide valley with the moorland stretching away over the top of the hills. The rain started as soon as we left the pub car park, with a biting wind driving it in from our right flank. The previous night’s heavy rain had made the towpath wet and muddy and one of our group slipped and fell, luckily not being injured. The canal meandered down the broad valley with few locks sharing the valley with the railway, A65 and the river Aire. To the north (through the rain) was Sharp Haw, a popular landmark and viewpoint, forming part of the Flashby Fell group. As we continued eastwards, we passed between drumlins and closer to the town, passed under the bridges of the bypass roads. Gradually we entered Skipton past gardens, allotments wharfs, terraced streets and mills including the massive former Dewhurst Sewing cotton mill. Before we turned southwards, the Springs Branch led off to the north (built by the Earl of Thanet the then owner of Skipton Castle, which served local limestone quarries taking stone to the Bradford and Aire valley ironworks). The walk along its towpath and Eller Beck is said to be beautiful and, on a better day, a detour as far as Skipton Castle might have been a temptation. As it was still tippling down, we made our way to a wide bridge in the town and ate our lunch under its protection. By the time we finished lunch, the sun made an appearance and we were able to finish the last couple of miles in bright sunshine. Nevertheless, we were glad to see the Bay Horse Inn when we left the canal at bridge number 182, otherwise known as Snaygill Stone Bridge. Hot drinks, changes out of wet clothing and a good sit down were most welcome!