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Looking over Ilkley from the Cow & Calf rocks on the edge of Ilkley Moor
Looking over Ilkley from the Cow & Calf rocks on the edge of Ilkley Moor on a gloomy morning

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Route No. 587 - Thursday 6 August 2015
Cow&Calf rocks, Keighley Road, Whetstone Gate,
Twelve Apostles, High Lanshaw Dam circuit - 11km
Ilkley Moor, Wharfedale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley


The Cow & Calf rocks as we left the car park
The Cow & Calf rocks as we left the car park

Looking back over the car park
Looking back over the car park

From the car park we followed the paved footpath up to the foot of the Cow and Calf crag and then took a narrow path up a short scramble to the top of the crag. Once at the top we approached the Cow rock from the back and stood on top of it for the view across Wharfedale and over Ilkley.

The weather this morning was overcast and gloomy with lots of drizzle about, but the forecast promised better things to come as the day progresses. My mate, Jim, and I drove to the Cow and Calf car park at map ref. SE 131 468 on the edge of Ilkley Moor overlooking Ilkley town.

Paved path up to the Cow & Calf rocks
Paved path up to the Cow & Calf rocks

Start of the scramble up to the Cow & Calf rocks
Start of the scramble up to the Cow & Calf rocks

View over Wharfedale from the Cow & Calf rocks
View over Wharfedale from the Cow & Calf rocks

The disused quarry next to the Cow & Calf rocks
The disused quarry next to the Cow & Calf rocks

Path climbing up across the moor to Ilkley Crags
Path climbing up across the moor to Ilkley Crags

At the foot of the crags we turned sharp left to double back along a path climbing up around the end of Ilkley Crags.

Then we left the view point and followed a path heading south west to cross the gully of Blackstone Beck. From there we followed a path climbing up to Ilkley Crags.

Looking up Wharfedale over Ikley town
Looking up Wharfedale over Ilkley town

Start of the path around the end of Ilkley Crags
Start of the path around the end of Ilkley Crags

Path up to the end of Ilkley Crags
Path up to the end of Ilkley Crags

View point over Ilkley where the path turns away from the edge
View point over Ilkley where the path turns away from the edge

Seat by the boulder next to Spicey Gill
Seat by the boulder next to Spicey Gill

Joining Keighley Road
Joining Keighley Road

We sat on the seat for a drink before we continued along a narrow path skirting the edge of the boulder next to the seat and made our way around the head of the gully of Spicey Gill. We continued along the path through the bracken for a few hundred metres to Keighley Road.

From the top of the crags we followed a narrow path climbing gradually across the moor for about 500m to a large cairn at a view point looking across Wharfedale. At the cairn the path turned away from the edge and we followed it across the moor for another 1km to a seat next to a boulder at map ref. SE 110 461.

Climbing gradually across the moor towards Spicy Gill
Climbing gradually across the moor towards Spicy Gill

Path through the bracken to Keighley Road
Path through the bracken to Keighley Road

Looking across Wharfedale along the Keighley Road
Looking across Wharfedale along the Keighley Road

 Following the Keighley Road up to Whetstone Gate
Following the Keighley Road up to Whetstone Gate

Following the Keighley Road up to Whetstone Gate
Following the Keighley Road up to Whetstone Gate

Turning off the Keighley Road to the Radio Mast
Turning off the Keighley Road to the Radio Mast

Gravel path past the Radio Mast
Gravel path past the Radio Mast

I'd like to believe the birds were a pair of Ravens (but of course they could have carrion crows). To our right there was a large stone cross called Cowper's Cross and to our left is a small radio mast. We turned left off the Keighley Road and followed a gravel track past the radio mast.

The Keighley Road is an old trackway over the moor between Ilkley and Keighley. We turned left and followed the Keighley Road climbing up for about 1km to Whetstone Gate. Ahead of us there were two large black birds wheeling around together in the sky. They we some distance away and still seemed very big.

Cowper's Cross by the Keighley Road
Cowper's Cross by the Keighley Road

Whetstone Gate on the Keighley Road
Whetstone Gate on the Keighley Road

Radio Mast next to Whetstone Gate
Radio Mast next to Whetstone Gate

Paved path across the moor from the Radio Mast
Paved path across the moor from the Radio Mast

Approaching the Thimble Stones
Approaching the Thimble Stones

Continuing across the moor towards the Lanshaw Lad
Continuing across the moor towards the Lanshaw Lad

Taking a break on a rock by the Dales Way Link
Taking a break on a rock by the Dales Way Link

There were initials carved on three of the four faces of this boundary stone indicating the owners of the three estates whose boundaries meet at this point. Just beyond this boundary stone the paved footpath turned left heading towards Ilkley. This is the route of the Dales Way Link that crosses the moor from Shipley Glen to Ilkley where it joins the start of the Dales Way proper. We turned right here and followed a wide track heading south east for about 200m to an old stone circle called 'The Twelve Apostles'.

Just beyond the radio mast the gravel track ended and was continued as a paved path. The paving consists of thick rough stone slabs that I believe are salvaged from the old cotton mills in Lancashire. As we continued along this paved path we passed the Thimble Stones on our right, a group of gritstone boulders. About 600m further on, still following the paved footpath we passed a trig point on our left at map ref. SE 114 452. We continued to follow the paved footpath and about 900m beyond the trig point we came to a large boundary stone on our left called the Lanshaw Lad (map ref. SE 123 452)

The Thimble Stones next to the paved path
The Thimble Stones next to the paved path

The Lanshaw Lad boundary stone
The Lanshaw Lad boundary stone

Track to the Twelve Apostles
Track to the Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles stone circle
The Twelve Apostles stone circle

The track turned left about 150m from the Twelve Apostles
The track turned left about 150m from the Twelve Apostles

Turning sharp left to High Lanshaw Reservoir
Turning sharp left to High Lanshaw Reservoir

Here we turned sharp left down a grassy track that led us to the dam of High Lanshaw Reservoir. This old reservoir belongs to Yorkshire Water and is part silted up.

From the stone circle we continued along the wide track for about 150m and followed the track around a right angle bend to our left. From this bend we followed the track for about 900m to map ref. SE 135 449.

Track from the bend towards High Lanshaw Reservoir
Track from the bend towards High Lanshaw Reservoir

Grassy track to High Lanshaw Reservoir
Grassy track to High Lanshaw Reservoir

High Lanshaw Reservoir seen from the path across the dam
High Lanshaw Reservoir seen from the path across the dam

Path heading north west from the reservoir
Path heading north west from the reservoir

Green Crag to the right of the path
Green Crag to the right of the path

About 300m further on we came to a cluster of large boulders on the right of the path at the top of a small escarpment. This is Green Crag.

From this small reservoir we followed the track across some marshy ground and then climbing up past the site of the 'Lanshaw Lass', another boundary stone which we failed to spot as we passed by.

Path across the moor towards Green Crag
Path across the moor towards Green Crag

Dropping down the hillside from Green Crag
Dropping down the hillside from Green Crag

Looking back up the hillside to Green Crag
Looking back up the hillside to Green Crag

Triangular rock with fluted channels in the top
Triangular rock with fluted channels in the top

There on the left lying flat in the grass and heather was a gritstone panel with two rows of cup marks surrounded by a shallow ring and a smaller group of cup marks below. This is 'The Idol Stone'. I've seen pictures of this stone on information boards but I never knew where it was. We left the Idol Stone and continued along the path.

We continued to the foot of the escarpment where there is a triangular rock by the path where 'Cup & Ring' marked rocks are shown on the map. There are a series of channels cut into the top of the rock but no cup & ring marks as far as we could see. Just as we turned to leave this rock there was a surprise for us.

The Idol Stone in the grass next to the triangular rock
The Idol Stone in the grass next to the triangular rock

Leaving the Idol Stone heading for the Pancake Stone
Leaving the Idol Stone heading for the Pancake Stone

Path towards the Pancake Stone
Path towards the Pancake Stone

Cup & Ring mark on the Pancake Stone
Cup & Ring mark on the Pancake Stone

Jim volunteered to climb on top and take some photos for me, thanks Jim! My arthritic knees prevent me from doing anything like that.

We continued along the path for about 400m to the 'Pancake Stone' on the right of the path. This a large flatish rock where there were a number of clear cup & ring marks both on the sides and on the top of the Pancake Stone.

The Pancake Stone just right of the path
The Pancake Stone just right of the path

Cup & Ring mark on the Pancake Stone
Cup & Ring mark on the Pancake Stone

Looking back to the Pancake Stone
Looking back to the Pancake Stone

Path down the hillside towards the car park
Path down the hillside towards the car park


Gravel path back to the car park

Our time included numerous stops for photos, a few drinks and to put-on and take-off our waterproofs as the showers came and went, but near the end of the walk the weather did improve and turned into a lovely sunny afternoon as we drove home.

From the Pancake Stone we follows a gravel path back down the hillside to the car park below the Cow & Calf rocks and the end of our walk, The whole route had been 11km and it had taken us about four and a half hours to walk.

Path down the hillside towards the car park
Path down the hillside towards the car park


Gravel path passes the Cow & Calf rocks on our left

Path down the steep hillside back to the car park
Path down the steep hillside back to the car park

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