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Ilkley Walk, April 1st 2017

Reporter: Chris Fildes

Just small select band of SCoM members Including a more recent member Jackie Haigh, met at the Cow and Calf Rocks car park south of Ilkley, Yorkshire.

The sun was shining as we set off on our walk, initially skirting a path on the the lower edge of Ilkley Moor. We gave up trying to locate the Beck Stone, one of six stanza stones located atmospheric positions high up on the moors between Marsden and Ilkley. (These rocks are inscribed with poetry, written by Simon Armitage for the Ilkley Festival in 2010). Simon said they may be written in stone but the elements they describe will soon render them mute. Each stone describing snow, rain, mist, dew, puddle & beck. Perhaps our geocache experts might have had more success! We passed White Wells, now a tea room but once a spa bath House (c 1700), only the plunge pool survives today, which is located inside the White Wells Spa Cottage.

We made our way up the hillside onto Woodhouse Crag to examine the Swastika Stone - a swirling design with four arms, believed to be Iron Age. Similar designs are to be found elsewhere in Europe including Italy, Sweden, Troy and Mycenae, The reverse of the symbol used by Nazis.

We ate our sandwiches in a sheltered rocky outcrop while watching ominous black clouds and the rain sweeping over the Wharfdale sky line. We hoped we would escape a soaking, but no, the rain eventually it caught up with us as we climbed up onto a somewhat soggy Rumbolds Moor. We trudged along the ridge past West Buck Stones to Whetstone Gate, along a paved path (reclaimed stone flags from mill floors), passing the Thimble Stones, (two huge chunks of millstone grit) and then Eureka! We found the Stanza Puddle Stones. Which describe the water strewn landscape on the highest point of the moor..... “Atlantic storm horses clatter this way, shedding their cast iron shoes in potholes and ruts .......”

A slight detour found us at the Twelve Apostles standing stones, which sit high on Burley Moor, and are believed to be Bronze Age. There have been theories that they might have been used to observe the moon or other celestial bodies.

The sun eventually broke through again as we descended back towards the car park, passing a poetry seat and poetry box, (post your own and receive a different one in return) is the theory!

On returning to the car park, we enjoyed tea and scones at the cafe before setting off back home.

So there you are, a surprise around every corner on this delightful 8 mile walk, on the moors high above Ilkley.

Many thanks to Frances for organising this walk for us, and we look forwards your next walk!

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