The start of November was really warm, and we had the grandkids for the day. Mackenzie (7) and I often go off on a walk at the weekend, he loves the moors as much as I do and he knows his way around quite well too. Finley (5) doesn’t often come with us – although he enjoys the walk he is a little unsure of his footing and we don’t go too far. Mackenzie will walk 10 miles, Finley 2 or 3.
Anyway, on this day Finley wanted to come with us – so I suggested a walk to Windgate Nick – an easy walk at the edge of the moor – and quite scenic too. Mackenzie wanted to go to the ‘wild moors’ where few go, but with Finley in tow I thought better of it in case he got tired. It is a long way back and the going quite hard, especially for a little ‘un.
The town of Ilkley is about 7 miles from my home, and is quite cosmopolitan. There are designer shops, tea rooms, specialist sweet shops and coffee houses. Shirl likes shopping in Ilkley. I love the moors. Shirl has no interest in them at all, I don’t think she has ever been on the moors. In fact, I bet that 95% of all Ilkley residents haven’t set foot on the moors. The moors rise up hundreds of feet from the top of the town and dominates the landscape. They are stunning – I don’t know how anyone could not want to go exploring them.
Two thousand years ago Ilkley was a Roman settlement (Olicana) but the towns modern wealth stems from the ancient well found on the side of the moors. Victorian gentry would come to ‘take the waters’ and the town prospered. Soon mill owners and millionaires would build their mansions and Ilkley expanded. I lived there for a few years in the 70’s and 80’s and loved it.
Away from the town centre, you drive past these huge mansions (most have now been turned into trendy guesthouses or apartments), and park at Hebers Ghyll. Hebers was an old Victorian park/nature trail, which has been somewhat neglected, few know about it and it is rarely visited – it is a sort of secret place. It is situated in a wood, and you walk up the side of the ghyll (or stream) on slippery stone steps and eventually out onto the moors. It is quite overgrown in places, and every millennia or so the council workers turn up and clear the paths of fallen branches.
The stone steps can be quite slippery (some ancient cairns had been found in the woods and these were demolished to make the steps)…it is quite a sad place, but in it’s way quite beautiful too. It’s how you imagine the Munsters back garden would look like.
Anyway, we arrived on the moors and the views were superb – we followed the path to the Swastika Stone – a superb (Bronze Age) carving – unique as there are only a couple of others in the world like it (although there is a part of one on one of the rocks a mile or so away).
We followed the path for a mile or so, past cairns and some more carvings, through numerous stiles and gates, and then Finley said his feet were hurting, so we returned home. A good autumn walk – about 3 and a half miles. We never made it to Windgate Nick – but Shirl and the four year old Rebecca had promised to make some buns for when we got back…they did, and they were delicious too 🙂