Ilkley Moor
Thanks to the unofficial Yorkshire anthem “On Ilkla Moor Baht’at” Ilkley Moor can be claimed to be the most famous moor in the country. The song which warns of the danger of courting on Ilkley Moor without a hat was probably created in the second half of the 19th century by a church walking group from Halifax and set to a Methodist hymn tune. On the day Andy and I checked out the walk below there was no question of not wearing a hat or every other item of outdoor kit so wintry was the weather. Yet remarkably the moors above the spa town were busy with folk so accessible they proved to be. And every person we met was wearing a hat!

Fact file
Start. Railway station Ilkley LS29 8HF

 

Distance 5 miles
 

Time: 2 - 3 hours

Grade: Moderate with one steep climb
 

Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale and Washburn Valley

 

 Map by kind permission of Johnston Press

Directions:

1. From the station walk towards Brook Street and the town centre. On Brook Street turn left following it left at a fork to cross the B6382 into an attractive residential area on Wells Promenade.

 

Now climbing quite steeply keep ahead as this crosses Queens Road and soon after joins Wells Road. Follow Wells Road past West View Park on the right with open access land now to the right.

 

Shortly after passing the striking pump house on the left

 

turn left into the car park for White Wells Bath House.

 

By now it should have dawned on you that if Ilkley enjoys status as a spa town then this is where the spas are located. From the car park a wide track leads uphill to White Wells Bath House a café and gift shop with a spa in an adjacent room.

 

 

This is a plunge pool. On the cold January day when Andy and I checked out this route somehow we were not induced by the restorative properties claimed for this feature to take the plunge.

 

Keeping on the main track between buildings reach a sign post indicating you are on the Millennium Way.

 

The OS Map indicates you are also on the Dales Way Link and the High Dales Way so take your pick. Whatever way you decide you are on the way becomes progressively steeper as you climb up the escarpment close to Ilkley Crags.

 

In a sense  Millennium is an apt name as since ancient times this has been a peopled moor and there is a matrix of footpaths covering the area popular with dog walkers and fellrunners. It was striking for Andy me that even on a miserable wintry day with a severe weather warning in place we encountered many locals. Hardy folk those Olicanians! Once over the escarpment head almost directly south crossing a brook at Gill Head and continuing ¼ mile beyond it to a fork. Here bear slightly left still on the main track heading for an isolated boundary stone prominent ahead.

 

Just beyond this feature to the left of the main track is a stone circle - the Twelve Apostles.

 

2. Aficionados of stone circles might well be a little disappointed in this one. This is no Stone Henge or Callanish. It could be easily missed in foggy conditions as is regarded as one of the most damaged megalithic sites in Yorkshire (owing to soil erosion displacing the stones and not wanton vandalism by fellrunners and dog walkers!). Yet despite this standing in the centre of the circle evokes feelings of connectivity with our ancient past - reminding you that people lived here millennia ago and built such things with intelligent purpose. Rejoin the main track and in a little under 200yds turn left onto a broad footpath leading gently downhill - not a public right of way but since you are on open access land this is immaterial unless you are using the OS map.

 

The path lead directly east passing close to High Lanshaw Dam - a small reservoir.

 

Two hundred yards below the dam embankment turn left on a footpath heading south. This contours across Burley Moor

 

passing a rock outcrop - Little Skirtful of Stones and continues for a further half a mile to arrive at a broad track in an area criss-crossed with numerous paths. Head for a prominent rock outcrop which overlooks the valley - the Cow and Calf - presumably so named because of some resemblance to a cow and calf.

 

Take a path to the left of this feature to descend through a path of woodland and then to Hangingstone Road

 

and the town.