Sunday, 19th October 2014

Walk: Cow and Calf rocks, The 12 Apostles stone circle, Ilkley Moor summit, Thimble Stones, Swastika stone, White Wells Roman Bath house   
Start Point: Car park at Darwin Gardens, Ilkley Grid Reference: SE 116 471
Distance: 9 miles Ascent: 1,600 feet
Time: 5.5 hours
Weather: Very windy with showers blowing in from the west frequently

15 people took part in the walk over Ilkley Moor which is the highest point of Rombalds Moor between Ilkley and Keighley. The moor is littered with mysterious rock carvings from the early Bronze Age. It is also steeped in myths and legends which is probably why it inspired Conan Doyle to write the hound of the Baskervilles.

Passing by a small tarn we soon climbed to the Cow and Calf rocks, the Calf being a huge boulder which lies some distance below the main (Cow) formation. Legend has it that the Calf split from the Cow when Rombald the Giant stamped on the rocks while fleeing from his enemies across the valley.

From here, after sheltering behind some boulders for elevenses, it was on to intercept the “Dalesway” path and after a visit to the “12 Apostles” stone circle (one of the highest megalithic monuments on the moor) we continued on past the trig point to lunch in the shelter of the wall by the “Thimble Stones” (another ancient burial site)

After lunch we continued down to the radio mast (the two older masts having been replaced by a modern single affair). As we reached the Keighley road which runs up to the mast 6 of the group decided to take the track to the right to return to Ilkley and in view of the inclement weather the leader decided that rather than go down the Keighley road to Bradup farm the rest of the group would follow the wall ahead to the “Buck Stones” and ultimately join the path which led down to the Millenium Way.

Once on the Millenium way the sun had come out and we were treated to the sight of a full rainbow across the valley for most of the way back. Two final points of interest were visited on this path. The first being the “Swastika Stone” which is probably the most famous carving on the moor thought to date from the iron age. The second being the Bath house at White wells which not only houses the Roman baths but is also a cafe. There were no takers to “drink the bath water” as the sign suggests so instead we visited the cafe next door where welcome mugs of Yorkshire tea (and cake for some!) were enjoyed before making the short descent back to the cars.

For those interested in reading more about the myths and legends, or seeking further information about any of the carvings and megalithic sites on Ilkley Moor there is a wealth of information to be had on the internet

The car park dedicated to Charles Darwin

Getting ready for the off

The tarn . . .

and again from the opposite end

The bracken is beginning to turn

The 'Calf' rock seen from the 'Cow'

These climbers are getting ready to test their skill in the quarry

A rainbow across the valley as we climb . . . .

to the 12 apostle stones

Jane checks put the 'icing like' rock layers which were caused by water on sediment . . .

and which resembel a sleeping seal from another angle

Ilkley below the Millenium path

The Victorian replica of the "Swastika Stone' (The original is further back)

Another rainbow as we head back to . . .

the bath house where the ladies read the notices

But no-one wants to 'Drink the water Gratis'

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