Ilkley – 27th March 2022

Strenuous Leader : Donna                             Distance : 10.00 miles

Following the River Wharfe a short way, we wend our way through Ilkley heading West into the beautiful Herber’s Ghyll with many bridges.  We exit onto Ilkley Moor with a steep climb, taking a short detour to see the Swastika Stone, if we have time, marking the summit of Rombalds Moor, 402m, or 1200 ft.  From there we circle back to the Twelve Apostles standing stones then onto Burley Moor via the higher and lower Lanshaw Dames. Finally descending to the lovely Dales Way Link/Ebor Way, which takes us back to Ilkley via the spectacular Cow & Calf rocks.

Leisurely Leader : Peter                                 Distance : Just over 6.00 miles

We collect our boots and bags from the coach then set off to the PC.s.  We head out to Middleton then across to Denton where we can have our picnic/lunch. We head back down to the River Wharfe, and then head upstream along the river bank back to Ilkley for tea, cakes or beers. I have altered the walk from the one I planned because storms made one of the bridges unstable after three trees had fallen on it. On the bright side a hundred steps will be missed out.

Easy Leader :  Jackie                                     Distance : 5.50 miles

We head down to the River Wharfe and follow the Dales Way, where we cross the river on a suspension bridge, to return to Ilkley on the opposite side of the river. The outward journey is very easy walking on good lanes and paths with the no stiles, only kissing gates. On the return journey, after Addingham where we will have our lunch break, we will mostly follow a fairly quiet lane which starts with a longish uphill stretch, but not steep, with nice views over the valley to Ilkley Moor. Next we go downhill to join a short stretch of the river which brings us out into a park, leaving a short walk back into town.  This is a slightly longer walk than usual but the walking is pleasant and easy.

NOTES ON THE AREA

Ilkley is the highest town on the River Wharfe, and provides the perfect stepping stone between the industrial townships downstream and the joys of the Yorkshire Dales immediately upstream. Travelling up the Wharfe, it is only on reaching Ilkley that the enclosing hills first show their more serious intentions, and none more so than the world-famous Ilkley Moor rising steeply to the south of the town.  Its breezy heather heights are in fact only a modest tract of the extensive, all embracing Rombalds Moor which boasts a wealth of antiquity in stone, with circles, cairns and carvings.  Also above the town are the Cow and Calf Rocks, the Tarn and Hebers Gyhyll, all being popular local haunts.

Although Ilkley’s origins are far earlier, it is perhaps best known as the Roman Olicana and for some superb Anglian crosses, now inside the Parish Church. Alongside the church is the very attractive Manor House, now serving as a museum. Ilkley’s real growth came with the railway, and its humble pretentions to being a spa resort. To this day it has attracted wealth in the form of businessmen seeking a haven from city workplaces and people set for relaxing retirement amidst invigorating air.

White Wells was built as a small bath house in the 1760s by Squire Middleton of Ilkley. The buildings date from the 18th century, and include bath houses built to utilise the intensely cold and invigorating spring water of the Great Spaw, or spa, for hydropathic treatment. One bath can still be used, and is particularly popular on New Year’s Day and Yorkshire Day, which1st August. Alternative forms of refreshment are provided by the old drinking fountain next to the building, or by the café inside which opens, whenever the flags are flying, which is on most school holidays, and weekends throughout the year. The view from the terrace includes the former hydro of Wells House, built to cater for the burgeoning interest in the water cure. Among its guests was Charles Darwin, who came here on completing The Origin of Species in 1859. He would possibly have ridden a donkey up to the bath-house for treatment.

Most of the stone to build Ilkley came out of the huge hole of Hangingstones Quarry, which now forms a strangely beautiful landscape. Above the far end, the rock surface beneath your feet has been smoothed flat under the pressure of ice, and grooved by stones frozen into the glacier sliding over it. The sharp end of the Hangingstones Ridge is called Crocodiles Head and is poised above the abyss of Backstone Beck. The gorge has been cut along a fault plane where the rock has been weakened and shattered, but a waterfall has formed where a harder, less yielding layer of rock runs across it. The fault has separated the Hangingstones block from the main body of the moorland above.

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