A fantastic high outcrop of millstone grit at the northern side of Wharfedale. Connected by folklore to the Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor, this place is worth a visit if only for the great views and weirdly weathered bowls. Standing stones reputedly once stood nearby, so it seems very likely that the sacred nature of the crag was recognised by our ancestors.
Fairies at Almas, or Orms, Cliff, in Knaresborough Forest.
Almas Cliff is a prominent group of millstone grit rocks, said to have been sacred to the religion of the Druids, and still to retain many traces of the rites and observances of their faith. One rock is named the Altar Rock, and near to this is a natural opening in the cliff, about eighteen inches wide and five feet in height, which is known as the entrance to the 'Fairy parlour.' It is said to have been explored to the distance of one hundred yards, and to end in a beautiful room sacred to the 'little people,' a veritable fairy palace. Other reports say, that it is a subterranceous passage having an exit near Harewood Bridge - some two or three miles distant. This variation in report only shows how imperfect has been the exploration. It is to be doubted if any mortal has ever reached the fairy parlour. Some years ago, the story was related of daring explorers making the attempt, but so loud was the din, raised upon their advance, by rattling of pokers and shovels by the fairy inhabitants within, indignant at this invasion of the sanctity of their abode, that the too daring mortals precipitantly fled, by the way by which they had entered. Since then, no man seems to have dared the task of ascertaining the truth, as to this passage.
Grainge, the historian of Knaresborough Forest, says of the place: 'It has always been associated with the fairy people, who were formerly believed to be all-powerful on this hill, and exhanged their imps for the children of the farmers around. With the exception of the entrance to the fairy parlour, all the openings, in the rocks, are carefully walled up to prevent foxes from earthing in the dens and caverns within; and the fairies, being either walled in, or finding themselves walled out, have left the country, as they have not been seen lately in the neighbourhood.'
On the surface of the main group of rock are several basins or depressions, no doubt formed principally by Nature, as we have seen many similar amongst the rocks of Upper Wharfedale. ... An old custom of the country people was the dropping of a pin into these basins, they believing that good luck would follow this action. One of the basins is known as the Wart Well; anyone troubled with warts came here and pricked them until the blood flowed freely into the basin, and finished by dipping the hands into the water. If their faith was great enough, the warts were seen no more.
In the year 1776, a young woman of Rigton, having been disappointed by her lover, determined to commit suicide by leaping from the summit of the rocks, a distance of nearly fifty feet. A strong wind blowing from the west inflated her dress, and in her perilous descent she received very little harm. She never repeated the experiment, and lived many years after.
The scene from the top of this rock is magnificent, the silver windings of the old Wharfe passing town, village, meadow, and woodland, whilst far beyond the dale the country in many places can be seen for fifty miles around.
Sounds like a suitable tale for 'Mythbusters' if you ask me. Page 77 in 'From Edenvale to the plains of York' (1894).
Visible from Ilkley Moor on the other side of Wharfedale and also associated with folklore of the Giant Rombald. A number of cup marks lie on top of the crag. Some maybe natural, others man-made. One large bowl is know locally as the 'Wart Well', due to it's supposed abilty to cure warts.