Ilkley Moor, Swastika Stone, Doubler Stones and Rombalds Moor

Statistics and Files
Start: Ilkley Distance: 11.3 miles (18.2 km) Climbing: 536 metres
Grid Ref: SE101473 Time: 5-6 hours Rating: Hard
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Ilkley
Start: Ilkley Distance: 11.3 miles (18.2 km)
Grid Ref: SE101473 Time: 5-6 hours
Climbing: 536 metres Rating: Hard
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Lost Earth Adventures

Summary: This walk from Ilkley takes a extensive tour of Rombalds Moor. The moor forms a natural barrier between Airedale and Wharfedale with Skipton and Keighley on the Airedale side and Ilkley on the Wharfedale side. The moor is home to lots of smaller moors named after the towns and villages surrounding the moor. Therefore on Rombalds Moor you will find Addingham High Moor, Ilkley Moor, Burley Moor, Hawksworth Moor, Morton Moor and Bingley Moor. Quite a family Rombalds has! Rombalds Moor has been home to man for a very long time and while it is mainly used for recreational purposes now the moor was once home to hunters of the Mesolithic age (11,000 - 9,000 BC) and then farmers of the Neolithic age (7,000 - 2,000 BC). Bronze age and early Celtic people then made their mark on the moor by making carvings into the stone, much of which remains today. The walk visits some of these ancient places as I walked over the moor.

The Walk:

Rickety wooden bridge in Hebers Ghyll WoodsRickety wooden bridge in Hebers Ghyll Woods
Swastika StoneSwastika Stone

I began the walk by parking the car on Heber's Ghyll Drive and walking up the gill into Hebers Ghyll Woods crossing the Ghyll on numerous occasions by way of a series of wooden bridges (see final picture) until I exited the woods and stepped out onto the moor. My first objective was the Swastika Stone which is protected inside some iron railings. The popular belief is that the markings are from the 4th century BC and are a form of Celtic art. After the visit to the stone I carried on in a westerly direction on the edge of the moor that gave me great views over the Wharfedale valley.

View of Wharfedale from Ilkley MoorView of Wharfedale from Ilkley Moor
Doubler StoneDoubler Stone

It was a dry mainly sunny day for my visit to the moor so views were good. It was as windy as it has been for quite sometime though but I was making good headway and too warm to do the moor Baht 'at! After passing delightful spots like Piper's Crag and Noon Stone I arrived on Addingham Moor and made a beeline on a track to the south that took me to the Doubler Stones. The two mushroom shaped stones of hard gritstone are an impressive sight. I stopped at the stones for my first coffee break which was most welcome.

Entering the dark plantation on Rombalds MoorEntering the dark plantation on Rombalds Moor
The colour had all goneThe colour had all gone

After coffee I set off from the stones and followed a track south-east into High Moor Plantation. The walk was quite now as the wind was held back by the densely packed pine trees. I continued in a south-westerly direction following a forest track that became a road and then left it to scuttle through the trees for about 20 yards until I rejoined a path, seldom walked, at Rivock (SE080445) which took me over moor and then pasture fields to the tarmac Ilkley Road which I crossed near Upwood Hall.

No fun to walk throughNo fun to walk through
Looking back to the plantation from RivockLooking back to the plantation from Rivock

This leg of the walk was different to the moor, all farm tracks and pasture fields that took me to a quaint quite copse at a little stream aptly called The Glen. This reprise from the moor led me to Glen Farm from where I had a decision to make. Do I drop down on the marked path into Botany near East Morton and make a short road walk to a path that bisects Rombalds Moor back to Ilkley or do I cut out the backtracking and scramble up Fenn Shaw Beck.

Sunny Dale ReservoirSunny Dale Reservoir
On the moor near Fenny Shaw AllotmentOn the moor near Fenny Shaw Allotment

Up the beck of course as far as Sunny Dale Reservoir. Then I tracked back and cut off the track to head upstream in the Fenny Shaw Beck towards Stanbury Hill and Fenny Shaw. After clambering down to the beck I stopped for lunch. I'll need to refuel before setting off up the beck and into the unknown. After my welcome lunch break I walked steadily keeping to the side of the beck. I often came across tracks and wondered who had made them. Then I spotted some huts at the head of the beck and it became clear that these were the tracks of grouse shooters. True enough I came across little wooden bridges and stiles unknown to anyone but the grousebaggers. That is except for me. I now know of them.

Gritstone on Ilkley MoorGritstone on Ilkley Moor
The path from the moor back towards IlkleyThe path from the moor back towards Ilkley

After the fun of Fenn Shaw Beck I emerged onto the moor. For the next hour I walked in total solitude and apart from the whine of the now decreasing wind only aircraft taking off from nearby Leeds Bradford Airport distracted my attention of the moor. After the hour crossing the moor I arrived at White Crag and then decided to detour due west to the trig point on the moor which stands at 402 metres above sea level. Here I made my last brief stop to relax from the moorland walking while I enjoyed the views. After the break I made my way off the moor by walking due north towards Ilkley. I eventually arrived at a little copse that led me down to Spicey Gill. It was a steep drop to the gill and then an equally steep climb out which was a little tough because I was now getting tired. Fortunately the climbing and trudging through undergrowth was now behind me for the day and I walked along a track to Silver Well Cottage. After walking past the cottage I had a final short moor walk to the point from where I had exited Hebers Ghyll Woods earlier in the day. I was relieved, I had done enough today and after walking down the wood to the car I sat down at the side of the car and had a final coffee. Only a 10 mile car journey now and I can have a nice hot bath! And that is just what I did while contemplating the enjoyable walk I had on Rombalds Moor.

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