Ilkley Moor Walk: The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle and Willy Hall’s Spout

Start Point: Car parking at the layby on Moor Road just past Stead Lane 53.904174, -1.775507

A loop taking in various points of interest on Ilkley Moor, including neolithic carvings, a stone circle, a trig point and waterfalls.

Distance: 12km

Difficulty: Easy

Rating: 4/5

Choosing to venture out of the Peak District, we were drawn northward by tales of Ilkley Moor. A high concentration of neolithic sites combined with beautiful landscapes, it seemed like a perfect choice for an adventure.

Aware that we had come to a popular part of the country for day hikers, we parked in a layby just north of the village of Burley Wood Head. The surface in the layby is very uneven, so be wary when driving in and out of it. It may have a rugged appearance, but it is a perfect launch point for various walking routes up onto the moor.

Our first goal was to reach the Twelve Apostles stone circle. Following the path that ran parralell to and then crossed Coldstone beck, we soon found ourselves up on Burley Moor and approaching Grubstones. For those wanting a full neolithic site tour, Little Skirtful of stones is visible from the path to Grubstones, but can be reached on foot by heading off the path. It is a very visible landmark should you want to take a closer look at it. Grubstones itself is an interesting lump of natural rocks and a clear landmark on the moor. From here we continued in a westerly direction above Lanshaw dam, with the path being incredibly easy to follow all the way to the Twelve Apostles.

Twelve Apostles stone circle

The Twelve Apostles is a well preserved stone circle standing proudly upon the moor with clear views over to the ‘golfballs’ at RAF Menwith Hill approximately 16km away. Believed to be a bronze age circle that has, at some point, been restored by an anonymous person/s, the exact purpose of the circle is unknown, although as with any such sites there are numerous theories as to its role in the local community.

After spending a few minutes at the stone circle, we carried on across to the trig point on the top of Rombalds Moor and from there carried on along the clear path leading past Thimble Stones and towards the wireless station at the end of Ilkley Road. Turning north and following the stoney road, our next point of interest soon came into view. Cowpers Cross is believed to date potentially as far back as the 16th century, although the cross you see today is primarily the result of restoration, with the socket stone perhaps being the only fully original part left. An intriguing piece nonethless.

We continued down the stoney path known as Keighly road for about another kilometre before turning off towards Badgers Stone. We were primarily heading over to the stone for a lunch break. I had neglected to research the stone beforehand and completely missed the cup and ring markings on the big sloped side of it, so keep your eyes peeled for those! The rock is quite weather and the markings aren’t always easy to see. Once we’d had some lunch we made out way northward towards Barmishaw hole and while wading through the bracken we stumbled across a cup and ring marked rock with a very clear marking on it.

Winding our wast north-east, it wasn’t oo long before Willy Hall’s Spout came into view. The paths through this area were a little bit of a maze and we ended up at the top of the first part of the waterfall. We dropped down onto the White Wells path for a view of the full sequence of falls from the bottom. Just up the path from the spout is the White Wells cafe and past that, Ilkley Crags rise from the bracken.

Looking down towards the Cow and Calf

After climbing up onto Ilkley Crags we then had a decision to make. The original intention had been to then drop down to the Cow and Calf rocks, but we could see that it was incredibly busy down there, so we elected to carry on past the crags, across Backstone beck and start heading back towards the car park. We knew there were other cup and ring marked rocks along the way and figured we might come across one or two.

We did indeed come across two more cup and ring marked rocks before cutting across to the Dales way and hiking the last 2km back to the layby.

A lovely hike with lots of points of interest scattered about the moor. Well worth an explore for anyone interested in ancient sites.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out my other walking routes and adventures!

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