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


Wednesday 20 August 2003
I always forget how far it is from the White Wells car park at SE118470 to the 12 Apostles. It's the approach I first read about, so it's the approach I still use. I always reckon on about 20 minutes, but it's always more like 35-40 minutes.

I'd certainly recommend an OS map for a first visit, but the 1:50,000 Landranger 104 does fine for finding the circle. If planing to investigate the moor more fully, I'd go for the 1:25,000 Explorer though.

From the car park, follow the metalled lane up the hill to the White Wells building and the toilets.

Follow the clear wide track as it zigzags between the buildings and starts its craggy, dramatic and strenuous ascent onto the moor itself. (I also always forget how steep this part is…. Maybe next time I'll try coming from the Cow and Calf!!)

From here it's more or less 'follow your nose' and the 'straightest' path until reaching a fork at around SE123454. Take the left fork, which briefly descends to ford a small gill.

The path then begins to climb fairly gently but I find that this final section does turn into rather a 'drag'…. Parts of this section are on wooden walkways to cross boggier areas, but these could CERTAINLY use some repairs! Watch your feet!

As you reach the final crest onto pretty much the very top of the moor the circle comes into view, easily visible despite deep heather, on a slight but clear detour from the main path across the moor.

There are 12 stones. Or there were on this day. I've never seen it with more, but I've seen it with fewer!

"How so?" I hear from non-locals. Simply because there are actually 9 stones 'in-situ', but it's rare that some enterprising soul or souls haven't seen fit to add 2 or 3 extras to make up the 12….

Luckily they sensibly don't (fingers-crossed) try to actually dig the impromptu stones in, but just use bits of rock to 'wedge' them upright. (They're usually remarkably appropriate in size and shape too….)

I always forget how much I love this place. It's right on the 'roof' of West Yorkshire and (on a reasonably clear day) commands excellent views for at least 135 degrees.

I also have to say that I find the proportions of the circle remarkably pleasing – the stones averaging around 3-4 feet high with a circle diameter of around 50 feet?

To me it's typical Yorkshire. Down-to-earth and well-used – the paths are very well worn yet I've rarely seen anyone actually at the circle, and impressive without being ostentatious!!!

A wonderful circle to call your 'local'….

By the way, in my edition of Burl, he says 'nearly all' the stones are down. So some restoration has gone on, probably since 1995.
Moth Posted by Moth
29th August 2003ce
Edited 29th August 2003ce

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