Journey to the North - Part 3

>>  Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I don't normally 'do' bookings and arrangements, I tend to leave that up to my husband or walking partner. As this trip was for my Discovery Award Gold I'd done the Waddow part all on my own and I also registered for airBnB and found what looked like a suitable place in Ilkley. Why Ilkley I hear you ask? Because the moor is teeming with Neolithic carved stones.  Neolithic stones are incredibly interesting, Avebury is spiritual,  La Hougue Bie is one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to. So it made sense to me that my journey to the north should include the moor.

Ilkley itself is a nice town, it is a spa town and the money is obviously drawn here but it holds a northern feel. I liked it.

My walking partner drove up to meet me there.  We had planned at the start of the year to go up the Old Man of Conniston, but my injuries meant this was the compromise of some walking time together and interesting for him too, as it is a place he had never considered walking in before.

The AirBnB home I had chosen turned out to be better than suitable and was absolutely fantastic with 2 double bedrooms and bathroom completely seperate on a floor of their own and the family left a lovely breakfast each day. They also, because of Covid, stayed out of the way, so this was like being in a lovely house on our own. 

Day 5 was a little drab but dry and after a nice breakfast we walked to the supermarket to buy lunch then walked up to the Cow and Calf to start our stone tour.  The cow is the larger of the stone son the left and the calf the stand alone stone.  I find looking at photos of rocks difficult to get a handle on size, but these are big (on day 6 we watched a clearly recreational walker in a skirt climb the calf, get stuck and have to be rescued by some climbers who harnessed and roped her up and slowly helped her back down - going up anything is much easier than coming back down!) 

There are lovely views once up on the moor (when I'm talking about the moor, this could be any part of Rombold's Moor of which Ilkey Moor is just one bit, different sections of Rombold's Moor have different names based on the locality to the towns)

The neolithic markings tend to be ring and cup marks but the rocks are also covered in modern carvings. Some from the 18th century onwards from what I could see, right up to today.  Mostly these are names, some are more modern art.  In some cases they appear to have carved names across the the neolithic marks.  I don't know how I feel about this.  Time marches on, traditions hold fast.  Is it just graffiti or is it a continuation of a culture?

I genuinely felt in awe of JD Wrigglesworth who had the tenacity to carve their full name in large letters across a rock in 1904.   

We headed off from the cow and calf to pancake rock.
Many of the stones have cup marks.  Lots are named and some were quite hard to find.

Some we gave up trying to work out whether we had definitely found the correct stone and just renamed them ourselves, so the moor now includes picnic rock and crocodile rock!

Modern art, can you spot the goat's head?

Some parts of the moor had very easy paths
Some rocks on the moor were very obviously identifiable, like the 12 apostles. 
Some paths were new
I am unable to wear walking boots because of my injury, so I was very grateful for some of the paths through bogs.
The Stanza Stones are part of an art project  by Simon Armitage and are spread across 50 miles. 

I was tripping along happily, whilstling 'On Ilkley Moor baht 'at' to myself when  Chris Chittell, walking from the opposite direction, commented on my lovely whistling. Surreal moment!

I also think I was possibly acting illegally as I was indeed wearing a hat that I had bought in Ilkley on Day 4!

Cowper's Cross was an unexpected find and has an interesting story, it is also evidence of Christianity trying to stamp out any pre-christian traditions and meeting places. 

Badger stone was the stone that initially set me to wanting to come to the moor.   It is very likely that this was a meeting place or market place and it has some of the best markings on it.

Time has washed away our understanding of what these marks truly mean though and it had also washed away the land surrounding the bench nearby.

We wandered on, on and off path finding more stones - until we were also weary 

And we headed down hill back into town for Fish and Chips sat on a wall.

12 miles walking meant I had now covered 45 miles across 5 days and I was starting to get beyond weary myself!


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