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I live with my boyfriend in Leeds, where I am studying at the university for a Geography degree. After two years in Leeds, we have tried to explore the local area as much as possible, despite not having a car (which can make some places difficult to get to!)
We decided to go to Ilkley one sunny day a month or two ago when we both had the day off and felt energetic. The train from Leeds Central Station took half and hour and as we bought a family "Metro" ticket (which alows you to go on any metro train or bus in the area) for £8.00, it only cost us £4.00 each in travel.
My first impressions of Ilkey were a small and quaint Yorkshire town nestled in the valley of Wharfedale, which we had a lovely train ride up looking at the views. The town lies beneath the impressive Ilkley moor, well-known for local legends and scattered with Neanderthal rock carvings. This was where we were heading!
We had asked in the Leeds tourist information if it was easy to get up onto the moor from the train station at Ilkley, and as advised, it was. We literally just pointed in the direction of the moor and began walking. We started up the left side of the moor when facing it from the town, which seemed to be a steeper climb than the other side. It took us around half an hour to reach the top and we stopped for picnic on the top. The views are really impressive and its great to be so high up and away from everything. The hustle and bustle of Leeds' student life was forgotten as we pushed on up the moor and enjoyed the exhilarating views.
Using my I-phone for GPS and google earth, we were able to locate the rough location of a stone circle "the twelve apostles of ilkley moor" that we had seen on-line earlier and decided to try and find. After walking in that vague direction for half and hour or so, over the top of the moor so Ilkley was out of view and we felt truly remote and peaceful, we found the circle, which the path ran right through! Although the stones were only 2ft high, it felt good to be in the middle of an ancient monument.
After the stone circle, we found a reservoir with some geese having a swim and then decided to start heading back towards Ilkley as we had been walking for a good three hours and were starting to tire!
We located a pub on the moor which had been recommended to us "The Cow and Calf" on my i phone and headed off down the moor towards us. On the way down we just happened to come across a rock with some interesting carvings. After speaking to an old chap earlier in the day who was locating "cup and ring" stone age carvings on the moor, we thought this was probably one of them and took a photo. We were very interested to find it on-line when we got home and see we had found one of the famous carved rocks just by chance! :-)
The Cow and Calf was a welcome relief from walking and what a lovely pub in the best of locations! The pub looks out on the 'cow and calf' rock formation which, legend has it, was formed by a giant leaping across the valley whilst fleeing from his angry wife! A cup of tea later and we were ready to descend the moor back into Ilkley. Sadly, we had left it too late to potter around the shops so I cant tell you much about the town itself...but Ilkley moor has been one of my favourite days out in two years living in Leeds and were planning to go back on a day off next week...Cant wait!!!