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Walking in Yorkshire – 3 child-friendly walks across Rombalds Moor in West Yorkshire

By Lyndsey Thomas – 28th February 2021
Walking in Yorkshire

Walking in Yorkshire – it’s world-class!

(Photos are all my own)


Walking in Yorkshire – specifically on Rombalds Moors in West Yorkshire – a vast expanse of heather, bracken and breathtaking views across the county – has been my savior throughout coronavirus. I’m simply blessed to have what I’m sharing with you in this article on my doorstep.

From fast-paced early morning route marches with mates – one at a time during lockdown of course – to slower-paced afternoon strolls with the kids in tow (aged 9 and 6), I’ve covered what feels like every inch of the 1600 acres of moorland that makes up Rombalds Moor in West Yorkshire.

Rombalds Moor is made up of Ilkley Moor, Burley Moor, Hawksworth Moor, Bingley Moor, Morton Moor and Addingham High Moor.

The most famous Yorkshire landmark on these marvellous moors is probably The Cow and Calf Rocks located high above the posh middle-class town of Ilkley – one of a few gateway towns to The Yorkshire Dales with great train links into the centre of Leeds.

These mighty moors are magical. Especially when the wind is at its wildest and the skies are blue.

Exploring Rombalds Moor in the one of the coldest winters of the century so far here in Yorkshire, has also been a magical experience too for me too.

In fact, these moors are magical year-round, whatever the weather.

Ilkley Moor baht at is one of Yorkshire’s most exhilarating experiences.

Do bring your hat though, for it can get pretty blustery on the tops.

What we’ve witnessed on Rombalds Moor

Over the last twelve months of lockdown, whilst walking in Yorkshire, in this little corner of it anyway, we’ve gotten to know every path, waterfall, rock formation, bridge, style and even some friendly highland cows on our rambles across Rombalds Moor.

We’ve also accidently stumbled upon the most wonderful discoveries to include a poetry box, a secret waterfall and a wine bottle dam. Plus pretty cool modern rock art and pre-Roman rock carvings.

And we’ve purposely strapped up our boots and set off on missions to find an ancient stone circle and new lesser known craggy outcrops, and to reach new heights for vistas that have taken our breath away and filled us with gratitude and utter appreciation for this perfect part of Yorkshire that we call home.

The views from the top of Rombalds Moor are nothing short of bloody incredible and stretch for miles.  The air is as fresh as it comes here in God’s Own County. It’s a place close to heaven that’s for sure.

Child-friendly ramble no. 1 – The journey to The Stone Circle – Ilkley Moor

Starts and ends at The Cow & Calf in Ilkley – LS29

Length of hike – 4 miles return trip – takes about 2 hours with kids

Moderate walk – not suitable for prams / wheelchairs.

Steep in places. Minimal shoulder carrying required as plenty to keep the nippers entertained along the way.

One of the highlights of this walk is the poetry box along the way. The kids love to write a poem at home and post it in the mental box which is housed in a dry-stone wall structure. And they love to turn the wheel a receive a poem.

NOTE – Please only take a poem home with you if you have another one to post, otherwise please put the poem that pops out back once you’ve read it.

Where to park: avoid the Cow & Calf Rocks carpark. Park alongside the road just up for the Cow & Calf pub on the roadside.


Let’s go!

From the road, head up the moors path marked by a double footpath sign by the layby.

Follow the rocky path round and walk in parallel with the Cow & Calf Pub for about 100m before the path bends left and head up the moors.

You’ll come to a little stream and a steep bit, before the path folks left and right.

Head right towards a huge solitary bolder and follow the path down into a small ravine with a man-made waterway running through it.

Cross over this channel of water where you can, and scramble up the steep rocky slope towards a lonesome holly tree.

You want to veer left just before the tree and walk past it – the path will widen here, and you walk parallel alongside the stream below.

As you make your way along this path, you’ll see a dry-stone wall structure ahead of you. This is the poetry corner with the poetry box embedded into the wall. A great place for a snack stop and a spot of poetry to the backdrop of the most breath-taking scenery on a clear day – you can see all the way over to the Nidderdale Golf Balls as we like to call them. It’s actually a secret military base, so you can distract the nippers with some stories around the secret missions that are undertaken in these crazy colossal bright white structures if they are moaning. Which they might be by now.

Follow the winding path as it veers off right, and then left as it leads you down to the stream – cross it and you’ll come to a stone slab path which leads all the way up to the very top of Rombalds Moor. The terrain flattens out here.

Keep going for about half a mile and eventually you’ll get to the top. Veer off to the left along another wide and rather muddy path, and in about 100 yards you’re at The 12 Apostles!

Don’t expect Stone Henge, but do expect an absolutely awesome 360 view of Yorkshire with Ingleborough Mountain to the North, Drax Power Station and Leeds City Centre to the East and Emley Moor transmitting station in Huddersfield to the South on a clear day.

Take some time to tell the kids about how the Stone Circle dates back to 1800 BC. We like to run round the perimeter, jumping around, pretending to be ancient Druids chanting gibberish. We like to throw out a few yoga moves on up here too. Also make a wish. It feels like the place one should make a wish.

Head back down the way you came. If you think you can find your way back to the car by following your nose, go off-piste through the bracken and play some hide and seek. This is always a lot of fun.

Make time for a pint and a packet of Seabrook crisps at the Cow & Calf pub if you can. Local roaming sheep are regular visitors to the beer garden which is always fun.

Alternatively, just across the road in the Cow & Café Rocks car park is a great little café with a lovely little covered and heated outdoor seating area, serving hot and cold food and really good whippy ice-cream. I can highly recommend a sausage butty here.

It gets pretty busy on the Cow & Calf so be warned. We try and avoid this local attraction where possible, although it’s cool to watch the rock climbers on Wellington Crack, which is a 10 minute hike from the carpark to the left of the Cow & Calf – the two huge boulders that looks absolutely nothing like a cow and her calf.

Child-friendly ramble no. 2 – The journey to The Highland Cows – Burley Moor

Starts and ends in Menston – LS29

Length of hike – 5 miles circular route – takes about 3 hours with kids

Moderate walk – not suitable for prams / wheelchairs.

A pretty flat walk for the most part. Can get VERY muddy!

One of the highlights of this walk is Curlew Café – a little café serving the most amazing hot chocolate and bacon butties on Hawksworth Campsite (plenty of other options on the menu too), out of a food truck. We love to do this walk on a Sunday morning, stopping off at Curlew Café for breakfast.

Where to park:  Park by the park in the village of Menston (AKA my home village). Be courteous and park mindfully please. No littering, pick your pooch poo up and bin the bags – there are eyes everywhere in our village – visitors we are watching you!


Let’s go!

You want to head up Bingley road west out of Menston towards Bingley – you’ll pass a hairdressers and Power Gym on the corner on your right. Walk up the main road for about a quarter of a mile, past a new housing development on your right. Before the pavement ends, just across from the new build (St. John’s Park), cross the road and turn left onto a track and walk up past the field and stables past a huge house on your right. Just keep walking up this track until you come to a High Royds Hall on your left and a small gasworks opposite. This is where it gets muddy!

Head over the farmers gate into the field and follow the track – make sure your dogs are on leads and keep your kids under control. I’ve seen far too many dogs off leads terrifying sheep – the farmer will not tolerate it, and I don’t blame him!

You’re in big trouble if he catches you! Make sure you shut any gates too.

You’ll see some farm buildings ahead of you, and you’ll come to another gate. Head though the gate keep on the path which will veer off the left slightly and then you want to turn right – you’ll see another gate with a style. Hop over this style.

Keep walking along this track and you’ll come to a second gate and style, and finally a third gate which leads onto the main road (Bingley Road). Cross the road – be careful – it’s a fast one – and turn right and you’ll see a sign for Curlew Café just beyond the huge American ranch-looking farmhouse sporting a clock on the roof.

The café is just beyond the sign on the right through some gates that lead to Hawksworth Campsite carpark. It opens from 10am to 3pm on a weekend.

When you’ve finished your pitstop, head out of the carpark, turn right so you are heading back towards the farmhouse, and just before the house you’ll see a big wooden style with steps up to it. Over it you go.

Follow the tarmac alongside the farmhouse and you’ll see a style on your right – hop over this, follow the path and then there’s a third style – head over this and you’re now on Rombalds Moor.

Continue forward with the farmhouse behind you, and follow the wall until you come to a huge prickly bush – there are a couple of openings through the bush – head through the bush and you’ll come out of the other side with a reservoir to your left.

Walk along the side of the fence which turns into a track, towards the main road.

Just before the main gate onto Bingley Road, there’s a style/gate to your left – head through the gate and follow the path that runs parallel with the main road.

The path will eventually bring you back to the road via another gate – keep walking on this side of the road, until you come to a T junction with a farm house on the other side of the road.

Cross the road at the T Junction and head up the path up the side of the farmhouse back onto Rombalds Moor.

You’ll see a small dam to your left, with metal railings around it. It looks like something from a Saw movie.

Follow the track alongside the drystone wall to your right for about half a mile.

Cross the gate and at the brow of the hill and you’ll see a Shepard’s hut in the distance, with a redbrick house to the right of it. This is where the Highland Cows live.

Follow your nose to the Shepard’s hut – you’ll cross over a high dry-stone wall and jump over the stream.

Just before the Shepard’s hut turn right and follow the track down past the red brick house to your left. This is a beautiful luxury holiday let called The Pump House.

Head through the big gate and continue down the track, past another farm house on your right, until you get to the road.

You want to turn left when you get to the main road, and walk along the road for a couple of hundred yards and then turn right down Moor Lane and follow the road all the way back into Menston Village and eventually you’ll reach Menston Park.

There’s a couple of pubs in Menston Village – The Menston Arms and The Malt Shovel. Both are proper good local pubs and a great stop off for a pint of and a packet of Seabrook’s crisps. Both establishments serve food.

Alternatively, when you head back out of the village towards the park, depending on the time, Pickard’s Pies Deli do the best pork pies in Yorkshire and have a great selection of Yorkshire ice-cream.

Child-friendly ramble no. 3 – The journey to the secret waterfall – Burley Moor

Starts and ends in Menston – LS29

Length of hike: 5.5 miles circular route – takes about 3 hours with kids

Moderate walk – not suitable for prams / wheelchairs.

Steep in places and can get quite muddy.

The highlight of this walk is the secret waterfall – Ferne loves it! Look out for the wine bottle wall too – it’s pretty cool.

Where to park:  Park in the village of Menston (AKA my home village). Be courteous and park mindfully please. No littering, pick your pooch poo up and bin the bags – there are eyes everywhere in our village – visitors we are watching you!

Let’s go

Head out of the village along Main Street, in the opposite direction to the park, past Menston Primary School and the Co-op. Look out for the charity sweet treat stall as you head through the village.

Keep following the road up past The Malt Shovel pub and The Menston Arms on your left, until you come to a tight bend and the road bends to the left.

Just before the bend you’ll see a sign for Bleach Mill Lane (The Ebor Way) – turn right down here and follow the track round to the left and along past the houses.

Keep going and the houses open up onto fields.

Keep following the winding track, past the duck pond on your left, until you come to Bleach Mill. Here you want to take the narrow footpath on your left just before the entrance to Bleach Mill, which runs alongside a high wall to a mental gate and style.

Head through the gate and turn left down the path and then veer off to the left of the steam. If you get to the big metal gate leading to Hag Farm you’ve gone too far.

Walk up, parallel to the stream – it’s quite steep here – keep climbing and then you’ll come to a field. Walk through the field alongside the stream, cross the wall through a narrow opening and follow the path. You’ll cross a small bridge across the stream, and you’ll come to some houses and a steep drive. Turn left and walk up the driveway until you reach the road.

Cross the road and continue on up a track marketing public footpath with the stream to your left.

When you get to the top of track veer right – there’s some new looking stables and a wild looking garden with chickens and a stream running through it to your right.

Follow the track round the left and it splits. Keep to the left and walk up alongside the low-rise farmhouse and keep walking. The path starts to open up and you are rewarded with the most incredible views of Otley Chevin and Armscliff Cragg on a clear day.

Keep walking along the track and you’ll see a beautiful white house on your left (my dream house!). Keep your eyes peeled to your left, because immediately after the house is a gate.

Head through the gate and along this path. Look out for the secret garden door on the right.

Follow the path and it will take you alongside another stream and through an archway of trees – the path dips down and here you’ll stumble upon the secret waterfall with a bridge across it. Look out for the wine bottles. Someone has a bigger problem than me!

Cross the little bridge, head over the style and cross the field – you want to be to the left of the farmhouse.

Walk alongside the fence (to your left), and head through the gate onto Burley Moor. Turn right on the other side of the gate.

Follow the track round to the left, past the house with the huge glass veranda – stay on the moor path and follow it round to the right and past another huge house with a turret.

Stay on the track and you’ll start to descend quick steeply. Follow the path down and you’ll eventually come to a gate which leads onto the roadside.

Head through the gate and turn right, cross the road and turn left down the marked footpath signposted Menston.

Head down this track and through the metal gate on your right.

Cross the field, over a wall, and cross a second field and there’s an iron gate in the bottom corner of the field, to the right of the house ahead of you. Head through the iron gate, cross the track and head down the narrow path to another gate which leads onto a sheep field. There should be the most amazing looking house to the left if you before you reach the field.

Walk alongside the drystone wall (on your right) towards the farm buildings, through another iron gate and over a wall.

Keep right alongside the buildings and head towards the big gate ahead of you. Walk round to the left, through the iron gate on your right, along the path with the high wall and you’re back at Bleach Mill.

Head back into Menston from here.

There are load of variation of these walks – every time I head out, I find another path, or another style. But these three walks are most definitely the best versions of my local walks with the kids in tow.

**Please adhere to government guidelines in place throughout lockdown, including exercising locally and maintaining social distancing**


Lyndsey Thomas
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