THE moor is festooned with numerous paths and it’s easy to vary the length of this walk but on a brisk windy day it is a perfect walk to remove the cobwebs.

I parked at the Cow and Calf car park, just half a mile out of Ilkley centre, it is ideal as you step straight out of the car and in to some unique and stunning scenery.

A short walk takes you in amongst the rocks. Made of millstone grit, a type of sandstone common amongst this area of the Dales, the Cow and Calf (Hangingstones) consist of two large boulders named because one is large and the other small - ie Cow and Calf. According to legend, the Calf was taken from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. The enemy was simply though an angry wife!

Many climb the boulders and enjoy the scramble but an alternative is to take the path just to the east of the rocks, a simpler and easy short climb on to the moors. Head south west to a footbridge across Backstone Beck. Follow the path on the western side of the stream as it turns from south to a more south westerly direction. Nearly half a mile from the bridge there is a crossways of paths, turn south and continue the steady climb on to a short section of the Dalesway Long Distance footpath. This leads to the well preserved small stone circle of the Twelve apostles. It is a good spot and the stone circle is much better preserved than most.

From the 12 Apostles turn due west for three quarters of a mile on a good track to the summit of Ilkley Moor, marked by a trig point and cairn. Strictly speaking this is the summit of Rombald’s Moor, the best known part of Ilkley Moor, and a breezy spot when I was last there. It always brings to me the legend of the famous folk song Ilkley Moor Baht’at which in essence describes a young lady telling her man that he should really wear a hat whilst walking on the moor or he will perish and end up being eaten by words! Cheery lady.

Hurrying on from the trig continue heading west for three quarters of a mile past the Thimble Stones towards the twin pylons of Whetstone Grange. From here follow the main track north towards Ilkley. For three quarters of a mile it heads steadily downhill until it meets a secondary path going east/west. From here keep heading east with great views across Ilkley and in to the southern Dales on your left. After one mile the land steepens on your left, this is Ilkley Crags and the best part of the return walk. At the crags I quite enjoy taking a track downhill for 200 metres at its western end and then following this path underneath the impressive crags. You can remain above them though. Whichever you choose, the paths lead to the footbridge over Backstone Beck and the short return back to the Cow and Calf.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly six miles

Height to Climb: 270m (885 feet)

Start: SE 132467. Park at the car park at the Cow and Calf.

Difficulty: Medium: The moors can be confusing in misty and windy conditions and there is almost too many choices of paths.

Refreshments: There is a café at the Cow and Calf car park, a pub opposite or a short drive in to Ilkley.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 297).