West Yorkshire

Ilkley is a town in the Bradford metropolitan district of West Yorkshire.

High above the town of Ilkley is Ilkley Moor, immortalised in the Yorkshire anthem "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at", and featuring a rocky outcrop and large boulder known as the Cow and Calf Rocks.

Evidence of settlement at Ilkley dates from at least the early bronze age and there are still stone carvings to be found from that age.

A Roman fort controlling a crossing point on the River Wharfe occupied a site close to the town centre and stone from it is believed to have been used in the building of the town's parish church, later extensively rebuilt in Victorian times.

Another historic river crossing in the town is the old Ilkley Bridge. The stone bridge with its three large arch spans was built in the late 17th century and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The Manor House, also known as The Castle, is another historic building in Ilkley largely dating from the 17th century, although its origins date back to the 14th and it was built on part of the site of the Roman fort. The building was saved from demolition in 1955 when it was donated to the community and converted in 1961 to be Ilkley's art gallery and museum. It passed to the council of the City of Bradford metropolitan district, which closed it in 2015 with a plan to sell it. After a long campaign by Ilkley residents the go-ahead has been given for it to be run by the community as a community asset in the future.

Ilkley's growth came as a Victorian spa town when tourists flocked to the area to take its waters, bathe in its spring and try treatments at a number of hydrotherapy establisments. The arrival of the railway in 1865 helped to make Ilkley more accessible and brought an influx of tourists from West Riding mill towns and beyond. The railway once continued via Addingham and Bolton Abbey to Skipton, although the town is now a railway terminus.

Ilkley had already become well-known for its waters in the 18th century and through the Georgian era. Today, White Wells House on the side of the moor survives as the earliest spa building in the area. Bathing started nearby from at least the beginning of the 1700s and there is still a Roman-style plunge pool dating from the latter part of the 18th century.

People still go to Ilkley to bathe, but today it is usually at its outdoor lido pool, first developed in the 1930s. The town's wide Victorian spa town shopping streets and gardens beside the River Wharfe can also still be enjoyed.

 Town features

Ilkley is close to the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Ilkley is on The Dales Way, a signposted 80-mile walking route with Ilkley in West Yorkshire and Bowness-on-Windermere at its end points.
The town is on the River Wharfe.
The town has a range of shops and supermarkets. Ilkley offers bakery goods, butchers, books, clothes, jewellery, an outdoor market (Food and local produce - 1st Sun in month except Jan).
The town has a Post Office.
Ilkley has bank and building society branches.
The town has pharmacies.
Ilkley has a number of pubs to choose from.
The town offers a choice of inns, bistros, cafes, restaurants and take-aways.
Takeaway food outlets in the town include fish and chips, chinese, curries, pizzas, sandwiches.
The town has a library.
Ilkley has a museum.
The town has a cinema.
Ilkley has a theatre.
The town has a leisure centre with swimming pool.
Ilkley has a community centre.
There are public toilets in the town.
Places of worship: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed.
The town has a historic Manor house and old bridge.
Ilkley has tourist information.
Places to stay in Ilkley include hotel, guest house, inn accommodation.


Ilkley station

Station managed by: NORTHERN.
Operator/s: NORTHERN.

NORTHERN - Departure and station info
Link to Northern - external website providing information on all services at this station.

Bus travel

The town has buses to neighbouring towns and villages.

Road travel

Ilkley can be reached via the A65 .

Places to visit

Bolton Priory and River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey

Bolton Priory

Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire
The beautiful setting at Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the most visited monastic sites in Yorkshire. Beside the River Wharfe are the ruins of Bolton Priory, where the nave of the priory church still survives as a parish church. The Augustinian priory was founded in 1154 and continued until the dissolution in 1539. The abbey has been carefully managed by the Devonshire family since 1755 and now has car parking, gift shops, tea rooms, restaurants and facilities for weddings and corporate events. There is an extensive network of footpaths around the estate and one ancient right of way is the 60 stepping stones across the River Wharfe. Other paths lead into the ancient Strid Wood beside the river. Bolton Abbey is 5 miles east-north-east of Skipton (7 miles by road) and 5 miles north-west of Ilkley.

More information at  Bolton Abbey visitor website and at the  Priory Church website.
Find on map:  Bolton Abbey

Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle

The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire
Skipton Castle is one of England's best restored medieval castles, standing between the town of Skipton and the top of a rocky cliff over the Eller Beck. The castle was first built as a Norman fort at the end of the 11th century, but was replaced in stone and in the early 14th century turned into a formidable stronghold after being granted to the Clifford family by King Edward II. Inside, the castle reveals how it was modified over the centuries, including a charming early Tudor courtyard with a yew tree growing at its centre. The castle was the scene of a Royalist last stand in the north during the English Civil War when it withstood a three-year siege until 1645. After the castle yielded, it was ruined by the Parliamentarians in the winter of 1648-9, but between 1657 and 1658 Lady Anne Clifford saw it carefully restored. The castle is open daily.

Find out more at  Skipton Castle website.
Find on map:  Skipton Castle

Embsay station

Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway

Bolton Abbey station Embsay, near Skipton, to Bolton Abbey station
Operates from Embsay, about 1.5 miles from Skipton, to Bolton Abbey station about a mile away from the attractive priory ruins and beauty spot beside the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey. The railway runs trains on most days during the summer and at weekends at other times of year, except January. It also has a range of special weekend events, dining trains and footplate and signal box experience courses. Tank engines are the mainstay of steam operations on the line, but the railway also has a collection of historic diesel locomotives.

More information at the  Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway website.
Find on map:  Embsay Station

Ilkley Toy Museum

Whitton Croft Road, Ilkley
The museum features one of the finest private collections of toys with exhibits dating from 350BC to the present day. It includes early English wooden dolls and dolls houses, teddy bears, fairground models, tin-plate toys and die-cast vehicles, toy soldiers and cowboys and indians, and toys based on more modern TV characters. The museum opens on weekend afternoons and by appointment to weekday school visits.
Further details at the  Ilkley Toy Museum website.

East Riddlesden Hall

East Riddlesden Hall Bradford Road, Riddlesden
The attractive 17th century home of a cloth merchant includes an array of needlework from the era. The house is set in colourful and peaceful gardens with an outdoor discovery garden and children's play area. The property, around 1.5 miles to the north-east of Keighley, has a car park, accessed through its narrow entrance. The property is managed by The National Trust.
Find out more at the  National Trust - East Riddlesden Hall web pages.
Locate on map:  East Riddlesden Hall

Yorkshire Dales National Park

The Yorkshire Dales National Park starts just north of Addingham. The National Park offers mountain peaks, beautiful river valleys, attractive villages with country inns, ruined abbeys and some of the finest limestone scenery in the UK with limestone pavements, dry valleys, potholes and underground caves. The area offers excellent hiking and walking territory with paths and trails for people of all abilities. It is a centre for potholing and caving, has mountain bike routes and offers plenty of opportunity to study its rich wildlife. For more information see our page dedicated to the Yorkshire Dales.

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Extending across an area of 232 square miles (600 sq km), the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty starts at the edge of Ilkley and  Burley in Wharfedale. At its centre is the small town of Pateley Bridge. The area has a beautiful and varied landscape including rolling heather-topped moorland, stone-walled agricultural fields and farms, small villages, lake-like reservoirs and some outstanding geological features, the best known of which are Brimham Rocks. The area has a number of protected wildlife sites and provides important habitats for several varieties of birds, reptiles and animals, including otters and water vole. The area has been shaped both by nature and by human activity. The latter ranges from Iron Age settlements, old mines, quarry sites, a scattering of textile mills, traditional field barns, some historic parks and gardens and the area's huge reservoirs. For more information see our page on Nidderdale.

Emergency services

West Yorkshire Police  West Yorkshire Police website.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service  West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service website.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust  Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust website.

Local government

Civil parish council

Ilkley Town Council
Provides some local services in the area.
Link to council website  Ilkley Town Council
Metropolitan district council
City of Bradford

The City of Bradford authority covers an area extending many miles beyond the city itself, including areas of moorland of The Pennines and Ilkley Moor, parts of Wharfedale and Airedale and the Worth Valley.

The area includes many separate small towns and villages, among them Addingham, Baildon, Bingley, Burley in Wharfedale, Haworth, Idle, Ilkley, Keighley, Saltaire, Shipley and Silsden.

Councillors are elected across 30 wards with three councillors per ward.

One councillor per ward is elected for a four-year term on each of three years out of four. An election of one-third of the council due to be held in 2020 has been postponed to 2021.

Link to  City of Bradford MDC website.

Political composition after the May 2021 election:

51257 3 211
90 members ( 1 = Ilkley Independent | 1 = Independent Socialist )

County strategic authority
West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Covers some combined services of the five metropolitan district councils of West Yorkshire -  Bradford,  Calderdale,  Leeds,  Kirklees and  Wakefield - which were at one time provided by a West Yorkshire metropolitan county council, with the addition of the non-contiguous unitary authority area of the City of  York council as well as the unelected Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Operates with elected mayor Tracy Brabin as chairman and as decision-maker for some responsibilities after May 2021 election.

 West Yorkshire Combined Authority website.

Police and Crime Commissioner
The Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire
This role has become one of the many responsibilities of the West Yorkshire elected mayor since May 2021.

 West Yorkshire Combined Authority website.

Fire Authority
West Yorkshire Fire Authority
The fire authority is made up of elected members of each of the five metropolitan district councils of West Yorkshire - Bradford, Calderdale, Leeds, Kirklees and Wakefield.
 West Yorkshire Fire Authority web pages.

Ceremonial county
West Yorkshire

-1974 Within the West Riding of Yorkshire.

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