Ilkley Area Guide
ILKLEY IS IRRESISTIBLE FOR HOMEBUYERS
In a nutshell
Ilkley is a beautiful and quintessentially Yorkshire former spa town nestled at the bottom of the famous Ilkley Moor, with a truly elegant town centre crammed full of independent shops, restaurants, bars, traditional pubs and tearooms. Its railway station makes it a popular haven for commuters who want to live in one of Yorkshire's most desirable spots, which certainly feels a lot further away from Leeds and Bradford city centres than the 30 minute train journey would suggest! As you stroll down the hill and out of Ilkley town centre, a beautiful stretch of the River Wharfe flows right through Ilkley Park and its Riverside Gardens, where you'll also find the town's sports clubs and celebrated traditional lido.
Traditional stone terraced houses line the streets immediately off the town centre, ranging from cosy cottage style homes to grand Victorian villas that are a reminder of the fortunes of the textiles industry and mills that a lot of the town was built on the back of. Several small-scale, high quality new homes developments have also been built around Ilkley in recent years, largely by longstanding, local development companies who retain a vested interest in the quality and character of the town. Head in any direction away from the town centre and you'll find sought-after streets with their own unique characteristics. The west is a largely residential area, set around Kings Road and Grove Road, where attractive leafy avenues are full of large, ever-popular family homes including several of architectural merit. One notable example is Heathcote, the Neoclassical style villa designed by architect Edwin Lutyens. Heading south out of the town centre, and the climb soon begins up towards the Moors, where again, quiet and picturesque streets are filled with individual and characterful homes. To the east of Ilkley is the popular village of Ben Rhydding and on the opposite side of the River Wharfe, and still within easy walking distance of Ilkley town centre, lies Middleton which climbs up the opposite side of the valley. This part of Ilkley is home to a wide selection of grand houses ranging from period properties through to modern and contemporary self-builds, often set in generous grounds and boasting far-reaching views across to Ilkley Moor due to their elevated positions.
Surrounding towns and villages
Ben Rhydding is Ilkley's closest neighbour, sitting underneath the Cow & Calf rocks and with a popular village centre that's home to a number of shops, eateries and local pub, The Wheatley Arms. It also has its own railway station and is continually revered by homebuyers. Addingham is another popular village, just three miles away from Ilkley, with a strong local community and good range of local shops and acclaimed pubs and restaurants including The Fleece, The Swan and The Craven Heifer. Beyond Middleton, there are also a number of picturesque hamlets including Denton, Nesfield, Langbar and Beamsley that are distinctly rural and surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Ilkley is a star pupil where schools are concerned! Ilkley Grammar School is ranked as one of the top comprehensives in the North and Ofsted ranked it as outstanding in all areas in its last inspection. At primary level, both Ashlands Primary School and All Saints C of E Primary School are also rated outstanding by Ofsted For those wanting a private education, Westville House School, Moorfield and Ghyll Royd are all local co-educational schools for pupils up to 11 years of age and school buses run from Ilkley to Woodhouse Grove, The Grammar School at Leeds and Bradford Grammar School.
Ilkley railway station sits at the end of the Wharfedale Line and offers frequent services to both Leeds and Bradford as well as linking Ilkley to other local towns and villages including Ben Rhydding, Burley in Wharfedale, Menston, Guiseley and Shipley. Regular bus services also run to the likes of Otley, Addingham, Skipton, Keighley and Harrogate. For international travellers, Leeds Bradford Airport is just a 20-minute drive away.
Ilkley offers a superb mix of high street brands and quality independents in its beautifully preserved Victorian shopping arcades and throughout the town centre. Familiar names that you’ll find include Oliver Bonas, Joules, White Stuff, Fat Face, Whistles, Phase Eight, Charles Clinkard and Jigsaw, sitting alongside local businesses such as Eric Spencer, The Ilkley Shoe Company, The Grove Bookshop, The Ilkley Dress Agency and Time Menswear, to name just a few. In addition, Ilkley boasts a superb range of interior specialists including Anna Morgan, Maison Home Interiors, Covet, Baytree Interiors, Richard Grafton, Waltons Fine Furnishings, Nest and The Secret Drawer. There’s also M&S Simply Food, Tesco and Booths supermarket all in the town centre.
Eating and drinking
There really is something for everyone, but famous names include The Box Tree and Bettys, which has become a Yorkshire institution where you can enjoy a mouth-watering brunch or afternoon tea and grab a legendary Fat Rascal to takeaway. Other acclaimed independents flying the flag for Ilkley's food and drink scene include The Olive Branch, J Reserve, La Casita, Emporio Italia and Vine. High quality familiar names comprise of Bistrot Pierre, Picollino and Pizza Express. Moin Moin Bäckerei is an artisan baker and confectioner serving a delicious offering of British and continental baked goods and Lishman’s of Ilkley is one of Yorkshire’s best-known butchers that has won every award going. There's also a fantastic range of pubs and bars with Friends of Ham, Bar T'at, Banyan, The Ticket Office, The Crescent Inn, The Flying Duck and The Gin Lounge all serving up a tantalising array of tipples. In summer a refreshing drink in the Cow & Calf Pub’s beer garden is a must – there can’t be many watering holes in the UK with a better view!
Whether it’s a gentle stroll through the town's Riverside Gardens, followed by a cold pint or takeaway fish and chips from The Riverside Hotel, or a more strenuous scramble around the landmark Cow & Calf, there are plenty of ways to while away an afternoon in Ilkley. In the summer months, there’s nothing better than taking a dip in Ilkley Lido, watching cricket at one of the town’s two clubs or swinging a racket at Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club, which offers outdoor grass tennis courts, indoor and outdoor hard courts as well as squash courts and a gym. Sports fans can also cheer on the first XV at Ilkley Rugby Club and Ilkley Golf Club is widely recognised as one of the county's finest courses. For something more relaxed, Ilkley Playhouse puts on performances throughout the year and King’s Hall hosts shows from big name stars. Alternatively, film buffs can curl up on a luxurious sofa in front of the big screen at Ilkley Cinema and watch all the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
Ilkley's claim to fame
The renowned Cow and Calf rocks perched high above the town on Ilkley Moor, which attracts walkers and climbers all year round. This beauty spot was made even more famous by the song 'On Ilkley Moor Bah t'at' which has become a Yorkshire anthem and actually means on Ilkley Moor without a hat!
Ilkley's best kept secret
Ilkley Moor is home to hundreds of examples of prehistoric rock art, but you need to know where to look! Perhaps the most famous piece is The Swastika Stone, which is thought to date back more than 3,000 years and was carved as a badge of good fortune, long before the symbol came to represent the atrocities of the Second World War and the German Nazi Party.