Our trip to Leeds wouldn’t have been complete without a hike, so a few days before we left, my OS maps came off the bookshelf and the felt tips were brought out. We ummed and ahhed over where to go (Yorkshire Dales? North York Moors? Ilkley?) and eventually settled on a ten kilometre hike across the eastern edge of Rombalds Moor, a fairly low-lying area of moorland between Ilkley and Keighley.
After picking up some essentials (read: bananas and jam doughnuts), we caught the train to Burley-in-Wharfedale. From there, we headed up over Burley Moor, skirted the edges of Hawksworth Moor and then descended into Ilkley via Ilkley Moor. Ambling up Hag Farm Road, we stopped to admire the autumnal colours (and the fleecy rams in the fields bordering the lane). Before long, we arrived at a farm with hay bales piled high in the outbuildings and half a dozen tractors parked in the yard. Somehow, we’d gone past our turn – yet there hadn’t been one, so far as we could tell. We retraced our steps, but were none the wiser until a kindly dog walker filled in the gaps for us: the homeowner of a sprawling country home had gated off the path. She pointed us in the direction of some fields we could cross instead and off we went, tramping through the muddy fields until we reached (the imaginatively named) Moor Road.
Shortly thereafter, we found the trail leading onto the moors. The Dales Way leads all the way from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere; on this occasion, we only followed it for a short while before turning onto Millennium Way. (If you have the time, I’d highly recommend hiking over to Bolton Abbey along the Dales Way.) We ventured as far as Horncliffe Well, before veering back towards Ilkley, passing the Twelve Apostles and Ilkley Crags en route. I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous colours: russet-coloured heathland; scorched ground; tufts of sand-coloured grass.
- Trains run regularly – typically every half hour – between Leeds and Ilkley, with fewer trains on Sundays. The journey takes approximately twenty-five minutes, and costs £4.35 for an off-peak return with a 16-25 railcard.
- Speaking from experience, it’s easy to get lost on the moors. Take a map (e.g. OS104 Landranger Map) and don’t rely on GPS.