The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

The Twelve Apostles of Ilkley Moor

Stone Circle


The mistaken impression I got from most of the previous fieldnotes is that (a) it's a bit of a slog getting to the stones and (b) they're not that easy to find. As someone famous for misreading even the simplest of maps/directions and blithely walking past circles standing in plain sight I thus approached my visit to this one with some trepidation. Well, all I can say after my visit is that this was one of the easiest I've made so I thought I'd set out my directions in the hope they'll inspire others to follow because the Twelve Apostles are well worth spending half an hour with, almost for the views alone; were those really the dishes of the Fylingdales early-warning (or whatever they're used for now) station gleaming whitely in the far distance off the the north-east?
So; if you're coming by car, drive into Ilkley town centre then follow the sign for 'Ilkley Moor' which leads to a turning signposted 'Cow and Calf Rocks.' Follow this all the way to the cafe sited under said rocks where you can park. Unless you want to mingle with all the sightseers on the rocks, take the rougher left-hand path which goes behind them and stay on this until you reach the Backstone Beck. On crossing, again take the rougher left-hand path; although this climbs more steeply it cuts a large corner off the route you would otherwise follow in taking the lower, smoother path until it intersects with the Dales High Way. When you reach the High Way by the higher path you simply turn left on to it and keep going until you reach the stones; after crossing another small beck the path is laid out in large flagstones so your feet won't even get wet. I reckon it's a mile/mile and a half at most.
It's a very evocative spot, unusual in that you can see urban areas to north, south and east yet you're still in the sort of seclusion that only a moorland site can offer. Don't expect to have the stones all to yourself especially at weekends, judging by the number of walkers about on the Sunday afternoon of my visit though I still got twenty minutes; it's probably less busy during the week.
They're a quirky little group, sitting in their clearing surrounded by gorse and heather. I imagine it could get quite dark up there on a day when the clouds are low and the rain horizontal but on a pleasantly bright mid-September afternoon the moor was a fine place to be and I left the stones uplifted and ready for the two-hundred-mile drive back to London.
ironstone Posted by ironstone
14th September 2015ce

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