It rises at Malham Tarn flowing underground to Malham Cove (Aire Head), near Malham, in North Yorkshire and flows through Gargrave and Skipton. After Cononley, the river enters West Yorkshire where it passes through the former industrial areas of Keighley, Bingley, Saltaire, Shipley, it then passes through Leeds, on to the villages of Swillington and Woodlesford. At Castleford is the confluence of the Aire and Calder; just downstream of the confluence was the ford where the ancient British road, utylised and strengthened by the Romans, crossed on its journey north to York. The river re-enters North Yorkshire near Knottingley and in its lower reaches forms part of the boundary between North Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The River Aire empties into the River Ouse at Airmyn, 'myn' being an old English word for 'river mouth'. The name possibly derived from British *Isara, meaning "strong river". The ancient British name for the Aire was Winwoed.
(Joins River Ouse)