On Ilkley Moor…

Ilkley

This weekend we were back in Yorkshire for just a couple of days, celebrating a very special birthday with close friends and family, including quite a few Under a Grey Sky contributors! The images and text below were actually put together during a trip a month or so ago… this time around there were no views from the airplane as Leeds Bradford was shrouded in mist. In fact, we were unable to land and we were diverted to Doncaster…

Coming in to land at Leeds Bradford airport I look out of the window and can see Ilkley Moor, squat and smooth, not so much towering over the surrounding towns and villages as hulking in its presence. Perhaps it is because we don’t have much in the way of moorland in Germany that the sight of it always makes me feel as if I have returned home, even if the wheels have yet to touch down on the runway tarmac.

The next day we drive up through Ilkley to the car park at the foot of the Cow and Calf rocks. This has always been a special place for me – indeed, it was surprising when I realised that I had not yet written about this corner of West Yorkshire before on Under a Grey Sky – and just standing there on a blustery, summer day all kinds of memories come flooding back. I remember being up on the moor not long after Mum had started working in Yorkshire, a freshly purchased Famous Five book in the car, that itself was full of tales of smugglers and caves and foggy moors and as I read it on the drive back home across the Pennines it all got muddled together in my imagination.

Later I moved to Leeds to go to University, and Ilkley Moor would be a favourite escape, with a walk along the paths that head out from the rocks before looping back and round to the warm and inviting embrace of the pub a few hundred yards down the road. I cannot say this is the most attractive of landscapes… even on a sunny day in the summer it can feel brooding and melancholic. But if sometimes we want a landscape to lift us up, to inspire and exhilarate, at other times we want landscapes in which we can dwell, in feelings, in emotions and in memory. Ilkley Moor will always been one of those places to me, however much time passes between visits.

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Words: Paul Scraton
Pictures: Katrin Schönig

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