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Ilkley

Ilkley from the Cow & Calf
Ilkley from the Cow & Calf

Ilkley is a town of 15,033 people (2017 figure) on the river Wharfe. It's in the Bradford Metropolitan District, and the county of West Yorkshire.

It has Victorian stone houses, and is overlooked by Ilkley Moor (which features in the well-known Yorkshire song, 'On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at').

History of Ilkley

Ilkley has been inhabited since the early Bronze Age, about 1800BC (Wikipedia). In the Roman period, it was the site of a fort, probably from 79AD. It is thought to have been the fort of Olicana; so residents of Ilkley are known as Olicanians.

Ilkley was just a village until the mid-1800s, when a new town was built by William Middleton. Already known for its waters, it attracted more visitors after the Ben Rhydding Hydro was built. (Ben Rhydding, to the south east of the town centre, is now part of Ilkley). Charles Darwin, who visited and took the waters, helped it evolve into a fashionable destination.

The Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway was built in 1865, and linked the towns to Leeds and Bradford.

These days, Ilkley is a well-to-do town, within commuting distance of Leeds and Bradford. It's a nice, and fairly expensive, place to live, as you can read in The Guardian's 'Let's Move to Ilkley' piece, from 2010.

The town of Ilkley

Ilkley, post box and shopping street

The A65 runs through the centre of Ilkley. Just south of the main road are the shopping streets and civic buildings. There's a good number of independent shops, cafes, and restaurants. Lishman's, on the main road, is an award-winning butchers; Ilkley has one of the six branches of Betty's tearooms; and the Box Tree is a top restaurant, with a Michelin star, and chef Simon Gueller is a keen cyclist.

Sport, leisure, and culture in Ilkley

Cow and calf pub, Ilkley

Ilkley, surrounded by beautiful countryside and on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, is great for walking, cycling, and climbing. Many of these activities are centred on Ilkley Moor, and the Cow and Calf rocks. The road up there featured as a climb in the 2005 and 2007 Tours of Britain and the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire; there are plenty of rock climbing routes on the rocks and crags; and Ilkley Golf Club is just the other side of the road from the Cow and Calf.

Ilkley Cycling Club is the largest in the UK, with over 700 members. For the hardy, there's a Lido (open air baths).

Alan Bennett's film, A Private Function, was made in Ilkley. It was also one of the locations for Calendar Girls. Ilkley hosts a Literature Festival in October every year.

On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at

This Yorkshire folk song may have been composed around 1850 by members of a Halifax church choir. It tells the story of a man courting Mary Jane on Ilkley Moor, with no hat. The song tells him that he'll catch his death of cold; be eaten by worms; the worms will be eaten by ducks; the singers of the song will eat the ducks; and they will thus have eaten the man. 

These are the words:

Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!
Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
Wheear 'as ta bin sin ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!

Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane
Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd
Tha's bahn t'catch thi deeath o'cowd
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Then we shall ha' to bury thee
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Then we shall ha' to bury thee
Then we shall ha' to bury thee
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop
Then t'worms 'll cum and eat thee oop
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms
Then ducks 'll cum and eat oop t'worms
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks
Then we shall go an' ate oop ducks
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Then we shall all 'ave etten thee
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
Then we shall all 'ave etten thee
Then we shall all 'ave etten thee
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

Some people fear that the song may be dying out, and there's a campaign to get school children to learn it - see this BBC Look North report about 'On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at.'

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UCI 2019 Harrogate circuit

Parliament Street, Harrogate

The Harrogate circuit is central to the 2019 UCI Road World Championships. The mixed team time trial is exclusively on it, and most of the other races will ride it after a route from elsewhere in Yorkshire. For example, the women's road race does three laps, and the men's road race does seven.

Discover the Harrogate circuit at the 2019 UCI road World Championships.

Bike lane, Manchester Parliament Street, HarrogateCote de Lofthouse