ilkley, UK, europe

UK Destinations Outside of London: Ilkley Moor

England Outside London

According to the International Passenger Survey, there were 27.31 m visits to Britain by international tourists in 2015. However, over half of them were solely visits to London. I grew up in the suburbs of London and spent my childhood exploring the city with family and my teenage years lurking the street corners of Camden, wearing doc martens and too much eyeliner… London is a great city and I love it to pieces, you should definitely visit it at some point in your life. Read my ultimate guide to London here. However, I find it a shame that it is prioritised by tourists over the rest of the country. I’ve never read about an international tourist’s experiences of anywhere in Britain other than London. Indeed, many international people may not even know where there is to go other than London.

Related article: To find out the best UK budget travel tips read A guide to travelling UK on a budget by Creative Travel Guide.

I’ve spent the last two years studying in Leeds, a Northern city in England. The city itself is a vibrant place and I especially recommend it to anyone who has a passion for nightlife- you really can’t get better nights out anywhere else, even in London. However, what I love most about Leeds is its proximity to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales! You can get a 20 minute train from Leeds station to the Southwest corner of the Dales called Ilkley moor, where I visited a couple of weeks ago.

The train takes you into the town of Ilkley initially, roving past magnificent views of the Cow and Calf rocks. As you come out of the train station you’re met with the wonderful Victorian clock tower, boating British flags waving atop of its beautiful gothic architecture. Ilkley is a beautiful little town, all the houses are small, quaint and made from dark stone. Down the high-street there’s a large collection of places to stop and eat for lunch before your trek.

ilkley, UK, travel

After a quick coffee, we bought some snacks for a picnic (some snacks meaning the whole of Tesco) and began our journey to the moors, walking up a long steep road towards the trees in the far distance. We finally found a gate onto a footpath which led us to a lovely secluded waterfall, where we stopped for a paddle (it was a surprisingly hot day for England) and to take some pictures. Bright green ferns lines the stream and the grassy spot was surrounded by tall, intimidating trees towering above us on the hill, their roots exposed from the earth and tangled in spidery knots.

Another one of my favourite things to do in Yorkshire is visit the quaint town of Haworth and walk around the Brontë’s home.

ilkley, UK, travel

ilkley, UK, travel

We eventually left our spot and continued along the footpath, where we came onto a steep hill blanketed by prickly undergrowth. The path to the Cow and Calf rock formation -bearing left- was clear but it was crawling with people so we battled through the foliage uphill to a small wooded area straight in front of us. The further we climbed up the hill, the more stunning the views of Yorkshire behind us became. The village became dwarfish, the clocktower and exquisite churches standing out from the regular lines of houses like glorious gothic gems. At the top, the sun filtered through the trees and stretched across the grass in golden fingers. It was a beautiful spot.

ilkley, UK, travel

ilkley, UK, travel

The further you walk into the moors, the more magnificent the views become. We eventually reached the flat moorland at the top of the hill and the parish town completely disappeared from view behind us. Craggy rocks broke up the otherwise endless grassy landscape. Walking towards the horizon, we came across another waterfall, this time bigger and falling down into a large valley.

Related article: Interested in exploring more of Yorkshire? Read XYU and Beyond‘s post about Yorkshire Market Towns & Country Villages

I climbed down into it to take some pictures and back out again before we walked further into the moorland. Walking along, the amount of people dwindled and we were eventually struck by being alone in such a large and quiet expanse of land. The horizon seems infinite. Bearing right, we came across another valley – more like a gorge- and sat on the rocks right on the edge, looking down and across, where the town came again into view in the distance. How far you walk through the moorland is up to you, however we stopped at this point, only about a mile or so in to relax in the sun.

ilkley, UK, travel

After sunbathing on the rocks for a few hours and delighting in the view, we eventually made a visit to the Cow and Calf rocks, back on the edge of the moors next to the town. These rock formations are extremely popular with locals and bear the marks of various names and dates from over the years scratched into them. We were surprised by how far back some of the dates reached- 1972! 1856! 100 BC?… okay, maybe that one was a joke. Next to the Cow and Calf rocks is a pub where obviously you can wind down after your perilous hike through the moors. ilkley, UK, travel

ilkley, UK, travel

This is only one tiny fraction of the beauty to behold in Yorkshire. Not only is it home to the beautiful city of York but the natural wonders on offer are countless. My Yorkshire bucketlist is full of amazing hikes and walks, such as the Ingleton Waterfalls trail among others. After only a small taster of the Yorkshire Dales, I’m craving to see more.


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  • Reply
    May 23, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Great post

  • Reply
    May 23, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    These pics are awesome!! It sounds like you had a great adventurous day! Can’t wait for the next post. 🙂

    • Reply
      May 23, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you so much! 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    May 23, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    I love Ilkley, so many memories of hikes on the moor! The Yorkshire Dales just gets prettier the further in you go – I did my Gold DofE expedition there and couldn’t have asked for a nicer location to do it!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      It’s so beautiful!! xx

  • Reply
    May 24, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I get what you’re saying- I live in Devon and there’s so much sea and countryside. I’d love to have a bigger city nearby like you do though!

  • Reply
    Coral Waight
    May 25, 2016 at 2:58 am

    I visited various spots around Yorkshire, including Skipton Castle, in 2011. I’ll be returning to England later this year so will be interested in where you go from here. I loved Yorkshire and the people.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2016 at 4:12 am

    This sounds like a good trip. I’m really interested in doing some walking outside of london on my next trip to the UK.

  • Reply
    Claire S
    May 26, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Gorgeous pictures 🙂 I love being able to go on day trips and see something different for change <3

    Gisforgingers xx

    • Reply
      May 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    I love how you write!

    • Reply
      May 26, 2016 at 10:02 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    May 26, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    We were in Yorkshire a couple weeks ago and I fell in love with it! York went up to the top of my list of places to live after our trip 🙂 We focused on North Yorkshire though, going to York, Kilburn and Bransdale (should post about it in the next few weeks…). I think we’ll go to the Yorkshire Dales on our way back up and I can’t wait!

  • Reply
    Emma Mann
    May 27, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I lived in the UK for nearly five years both in London and then Manchester and once I had moved north, I couldn’t shake it from my system! Loved it. Yorkshire is just stunning. It pisses me off that people visiting the UK only visit London, much the same as it pisses me off that people coming to Australia only visit the east coast. Explore the whole country! Grrr!! Great post 🙂

  • Reply
    June 1, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Amazing photos! Your site is really nice 🙂
    Anni & Toby

  • Reply
    June 12, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Fascinating post. Your writing and photos have a great narrative style. I look forward to more from you.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2016 at 10:05 am

    great place!

    • Reply
      August 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      It is beautiful 🙂

  • Reply
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