Ikley Moor Stone Trail
This 8 mile off-road route really does have it all! Stunning views, historical landmarks, waterfalls and even some poetry thrown in. Plenty of distractions to take your mind off that fact that it is overall quite a challenging elevation.
As you head out of the carpark and turn right along Wells road, there is a bit of a steep climb up Keighley road, which leads you onto a sandstone path which is marked by the Dales Highway arrow signs. Follow this path, past the Panorama Reservoir on your right, heading towards Hebers Ghyll Waterfall. The path becomes quite rocky after this! Keep the dry stone wall and the pine forest to your right, eventually veering away from the wall as you head up towards the Swastika Stone and join the Millennium Way path.
Keep going along the Millennium Way until you reach another dry stone wall with a squeeze stile, don’t go through this (unless you fancy adding on a few more miles along towards Addingham), but take a sharp right up hill, joining a higher path to return back the way you came. This is a less obvious but well walked fell path which takes you back to Keighley road.
If you are wanting a shorter route, this is probably a good point to return to the car park. For those of you wanting a longer challenge, but cross over the road and join another path (marked with a public footpath sign) heading up towards White Wells, where there is a cafe and a public toilet. Head along the path at the back of white wells, where you can either follow the more direct route uphill following the Millennium Way, or you can go the more indirect way (which I did on the map), which looks a little like a bike track. It is a steep climb whichever way you choose and you will eventually get to some stone steps. At the top of these steps the path forks into two, you are continuing to head upwards, as the lower path will take you to the famous tourist attraction the Cow and Calf (also worth a visit if you haven’t already, with toilets, cafes and a pub).
Keep heading steadily upwards and you will eventually join a flagstone path, which clearly marks the majority of the route now. Keep heading up the flagstones towards the Stanza Stones, but when you get to the top you don’t head towards Menston, but take a sharp right to carry on along the flagstone path, with stunning moorland and panoramic views on either side. Follow this path for a mile or so where you will pass the white painted trig point and a phone mast in the distance. If you keep your eyes peeled, you will also see some poetry carved into the stones.
Eventually the flagstones turn into a track and you will meet a junction, where Ilkley Moor meets Ilkley Road. There are also some parking spaces here if you were coming from a Bradford rather than Leeds direction. Don’t go through the gate, but turn right back down the track/road towards Ilkley, which you will see in the distance as you enjoy this lovely downhill stretch for the last couple of miles to the end. This track eventually turns into a tarmac road – Keighley road, just a few minutes from the carpark and your start point.
Where to park if travelling by car
The run starts at the free carpark next to Darwin Gardens off Wells Road. There is also the Millennium Maze and picnic tables if you need a post-run sit down.
How to get there by public transport
You can get a train directly to Ilkey from Leeds Station, where you can get to the start point of this run by running (or walking) up Wells Road. As you leave the station and use the zebra crossing, Wells Road is pretty much opposite. Just head uphill – start your watch here and it will make your elevation even more impressive!
Ilkey is packed full of cafes, bars and restaurants. But there is also a cafe/toilets at White Wells on route, as well at the Cow and Calf a little off the track.