Walk: Ilkley

Lancashire Telegraph: Walk: Ilkley Walk: Ilkley

Last year I was on holiday in Germany alogside the River Rhine, I visited a beer cellar where an “Umpah” band was in full swing.

Suddenly the place was bouncing as everybody began to sing “On Ilka Moor Baht ‘At” and they were word perfect.

To perfom this took a lot of puff, as did parts of my walk up onto Ilkley Moor.

Start from the station plaza and bear right to reach the little park called Mill Ghyll.

At a fork bear right, cross a stream and steps.

Cross Queen’s Drive into the unmade road of Linnburn Mews to the Wells House area.

Pass alongside a stream to reach Darwin Gardens. In Victorian times Ilkley was attempting to develop into a Spa to rival Harrogate.

It didn’t quite make it but it attracted some important visitors, including Charles Darwin in 1859. Then the world’s most famous biologist, Darwin does seem to have been a bit of a “hypochondriac” and stayed at Wells House to “take the cure”.

Climb a set of stone steps to reach White Wells Bathouse and continue ahead. The going is rough and steep so take your time.

There are plenty of seats where there is a chance to picnic and look down over the slendid views of Ilkley Town.

Climb slowly along the obvious Dales Way Link Path to reach a stone pillar called Lanshaw Lad, close to the even more famous Con and Calf rocks.

Now is the chance to enjoy a slice of even more ancient Apostle stones, which are reached via a very short diversion.

The stone circle dates from the Bronze Age and are is 3,500 years old. The stones are placed in such a position as to afford panoramic views over the valleys of the Wharfe and Aire rivers.

At this point return to the Lanshaw Lad and bear right along Whetstone Gate. Take an obvious track to the right.

Follow a track known as Keighley Gate and to the right reach Spicey Gill.

This is the high point of the route. It is an impressive area — feeling all the better because it is now downhill — but natural cliffs and old quarry works have created an ampitheatre.

Descend to the conurbation of Wells House, Queens Road and Princess Road. Look at St Margaret’s Church, built in Victorian times, but look out for three substantial buildings which are protected by railings.

It is possible to see inscriptions which are known as Cup and Rings, which are named because of their shape. They are said to date from the Bronze Age but nobody is sure what their significance was.

I love it when even experts are unsure. Wouldn’t it be boring if we knew everything!

Descend into the town to reach Parish Ghyll Road, the Grove and the centre of Ilkley and the starting point. The Grove is on the line of the old Roman Road.

Ilkley was important in Roman times, known as Olicana.

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