A Guide to Ilkley

The historical spa town of Ilkley is located on the edge of the banks of the River Wharfe, in the district of Wharfedale – among the jewels of the Yorkshire Dales.

Ilkley is the ultimate travel-to-work commuter town as it is just 15 miles from the bright lights of Leeds, 15 miles from Bradford and 17 miles from Harrogate.

Its Victorian architecture and acres of spectacular, unspoilt scenery make the town a magnet for many tenants and residents – which have historically included novelist Jilly Cooper and Kaiser Chiefs star Ricky Wilson among them.

The famous Ilkley Moor – and accompanying song 'On Ilkley Moor Baht'at' (translated as On Ilkley Moor Without A Hat!) - and the breath-taking Cow and Calf rocks add to its appeal.

Also on the Moor is famous whitewashed building known as White Wells – which houses a bath at a site reputedly dating to Roman times. Other attractions include the Victorian bath house in the town itself and the recently-refurbished Ilkley pool and lido – one of the country's last remaining outdoor public swimming pools.

The Ilkley Literature Festival – which has attracted the likes of local boy made good Alan Titchmarsh - and the Ilkley Music Festival are two other summer highlights for residents.

Known as the 'town of millionaires', Ilkley's residents enjoy a quieter pace of life, with its Victorian shopping arcade, famous Betty's tearoom and Yorkshire Fat Rascals, this area proves ever popular with tenants and visitors alike. The Victorian parades of The Grove and Brook Street have collections of speciality shops. The town's original Victorian arcade has been restored as an indoor shopping walkway, complete with fountain and hanging baskets.

Of particular note is Lishman's of Ilkley, an award-winning butcher shop whose owner, David Lishman, became one of Rick Stein's superheroes. Ilkley is also home to the Michelin-starred Box Tree restaurant where Marco-Pierre White trained.

Charles Darwin famously stayed in the town during publication of The Origin of the Species – commemorated by the town's Darwin Gardens and the Millennium Maze.

More recently, Alan Bennett's film A Private Function was filmed in the town, which was also used as one of the locations for the filming of Calendar Girls with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters.

Just north of Ilkley lies Bolton Abbey in the Duke of Devonshire's extensive country estate, and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales national park. It is also the start of the Dales Way, which takes walkers up to Bowness on Windermere in the Lake District.

As well as an unrivalled choice of good schools, there are many picnic areas, as well as gorgeous parks and boating on the river which make Ilkley the perfect location for couples and families.

For sports enthusiasts, there is an array of choice. Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, founded in 1880 hosts the Ilkley Squash Open which has attracted world-class players.

Ilkley Golf Club is Yorkshire's third oldest golf club, founded in 1890 and was the club where Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie learnt the sport. Other clubs include Ilkley Harriers, Ilkley Cricket Club, Ilkley Rugby Union Football Club, and Ben Rhydding Hockey Club, founded in 1901.

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