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Friday, 5 August 2011

Saturday 23rd July 2011 Saltaire to Ilkley

Weather:  Sunny intervals and warm, windy on the moors
Distance:  7.5 miles

We were up at 7:00am and had a lovely breakfast of boiled eggs, homemade bread and jam and lashings of tea.  A good start to the day.  We were given a lift to Saltaire by a kind husband, waved our goodbyes and we were off - for all of two minutes.  A refreshment opportunity had presented itself and as Mrs C and I never like to miss a chance for a cup of tea we decided to stop at the ideally situated  barge on the canal.  A cup of tea and a flapjack later and a brief encounter with the only other people (two ladies from Cheshire) we met doing the walk this week we were on our way.

We soon found that the guide books needed close attention to prevent us straying in the wrong direction.  I'm going to call it first day nerves.  The small guide book had brief notes on the route with detailed maps and the companion guide book had more wordy directions with interesting snippets about points of interest  (history, geology, wildlife, plants, etc).  We needed both books to get the full picture as we took a wrong turn as soon as we left the towpath - soon back on track.

After leaving the canal we began the gradual ascent up to the wild, Yorkshire Moors.  Trench Wood was idyllic - dappled sunlight, moss, bracken and birds.  We emerged at Glovershaw and looked back to see the Yorkshire countryside opening up behind us (there was lots of looking back at the view as it was a chance to catch breath and gird loins for the next bit).  It was a splendid scene to behold - clear, blue skies and green hills stretching as far as the eye could see with Saltaire nestling in the foreground.  We walked a section of path where the guide book warned us to watch out for galloping horses.  After an initial thought of "Why are they galloping and will they attack me?" I realised it was racing horse stables and the horse exercise track was part of our route.  We passed a golf course and waved to the golfers - a friendly bunch but still think golf is a good walk spoiled.

Weechor Reservoir was empty and we missed the alternative path which would have saved us walking 250 metres down the extremely busy Otley Road.  It was hair-raising (Yorkshire drivers take no prisoners) but we made it safely to the stile and clambered elegantly over and finally we were on the moors proper - Bingly Moor, Burley Moor and Ilkley Moor.  Purple heather, peaty paths and bilberries everywhere.  We heard and then spotted a curlew (gorgeous).  The wind was blowing strongly but the sun was shining so it wasn't cold.  I can imagine a rainy day up here is very unpleasant.  As we climbed, the views got better and more fabulous.  We must have been able to see 30 miles in all directions - marvellous.  We stopped for lunch by a wall which sheltered us from the wind and guess who turned up?  The two ladies we met at the start (Carol and Olive).  We thought they were way ahead of us.  They stopped for lunch and produced china cups for their tea..!  We left them to their tea and strolled manfully on after our tuna sarnies and bananas washed down with corporation pop.  We were still getting used to the guide books and discovered we weren't as far on as we thought.  We passed waymarkers that looked like they had been there for centuries - Hornlcliffe Well and Langshaw Lad.  The bronze age stone circle - The Twelves Apostles - was awesome.  We travelled from Saltaire and it's nineteenth century monuments to industry to this 3000 year old relic.  A very boggy path after this.  So boggy a board walk has been laid but this is being replaced with stone flags.It looks like they have been flown in by helicopter and are waiting to be positioned.  We saw lots of walkers today - day trippers and the like.  It seems to be a popular route.

We reached Ilkley Crags and viewed the town of Ilkley with White Wells Cottage in the foreground.  The flags were flying which meant tea was being served so we headed down with a spring in our step until I saw how steep the descent was...very steep.  We had a lovely mug of tea, viewed the baths (which have been there since the eighteenth century) and chatted to a family on a day out from York.  Dad was Austrian, mum was Ukranian and their two children speak 4 languages.  After a loo stop we walked into Ilkley.  We bought Sunday's lunch at M&S, called into the tourist information office for weather forecast (Sunshine and temperatures of 19 degrees) and then we strolled along the main street to .Martinez Wine Merchants  They now have a wine bar and Mrs C said, "Shall we?" and I said, "Yes!" and so we sat down, slightly dishevelled in our boots and still carrying our rucksacks, and had a cheeky glass of chilled rose in the sunshine to toast the first day.  We found the B&B which is lovely (Archway Cottage), showered and then wandered back into town for dinner.  Everywhere was very busy as it was Saturday night but we found a new Thai restaurant close to the B&B and had a lovely meal and served by friendly staff.  Tucked up in bed by 10:00pm.

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