On Ilkley Moor there are two jumbles of gritstone rocks and outcrops known as the Buck Stones. The East Buck Stones are more substantial than West Buck Stones and provide an excellent viewpoint over a wide area of heather
The outward part of the route visits the iconic White Wells spa then links up with a moorland track known as Keighley Road, actually built by the Romans. At the well-known monument of Cowper’s Cross - once a boundary stone but “Christianised” centuries ago - the route turns west on a path that is much less trodden than others on the moor. Eventually it swings south and descends on a faint path to join the Bradford Millennium Way, passing a Victorian replica of Ilkley Moor’s most famous prehistoric relic, the Swastika Stone. The original faded with age and likely dates from the Bronze Age.
1. If using public transport walk up Wells Road opposite the railway station to a gate on the left of a cattle grid. If starting from the car park cross to the gate and almost immediately turn left on a path to a pond. Turn left to walk round to some steps which lead to a rising path, eventually arriving at White Wells.
2. Turn right in front of White Wells and descend to a track. Cross a bridge and a short distance downhill turn left to follow an obvious path, part of the Bradford Millennium Way. When the mainly level path forks go left and ignore a right turn further on to arrive at a small parking area. Turn left on the tarmac Keighley Road and follow it uphill. On a bend take a signposted footpath on the left, taking not the obvious bottom path above Spicey Gill but a path rising uphill.
3. Back on Keighley Road turn left and follow it until Cowper’s Cross comes into sight. Take a path leading right to the cross and, from there, the path continues to the rocks known as East Buck Stones. Behind them the path continues to a smaller outcrop, West Buck Stones, near a wall. Follow a path down to the right to take a path which runs parallel with a walled plantation.
4. When a wall gate at the end of the plantation is reached turn right to follow an intermittent path in a straight line, aiming downhill to a wall. As the wall comes closer aim for a small stile. On the other side the path continues ahead a short distance then bears left to a hand gate in another wall.
5. Don’t use the gate but turn right to follow the clear path, a continuation of the Millennium Way. Look to the left further on for the Swastika Stone replica behind railings. Beyond here a good path swings right to a gate. Follow it down to a wall, turn right and, rejoining Keighley Road, go left to walk downhill. At a junction turn right down Wells Road to return to the car park or station.
Difficulty rating: 2 stars.
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2 1/2 hours
Map: OS Explorer 297 (1:25000) Lower Wharfedale & Upper Washburn Valley, and OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield, or OS Landranger (1:50000) Leeds & Bradford 104.
Parking: Free at Darwin Gardens, Wells Road, Ilkley (up the hill from rail and bus stations, on right past Crossbeck Road)
Public transport: Ilkley is on the Wharfedale railway line from Leeds and Bradford Forster Square. Buses to Ilkley run from Leeds, Bradford, Skipton and Harrogate. For services check www.wymetro.com or 0113 245 7676.
Toilets and refreshments: Ilkley, White Wells.