Cow and Calf Rocks

Ilkley Moor Walk – The Cow and Calf Plus The 12 Apostles

This walk around Ilkley Moor has so much to offer, from huge views to great rock landmarks and bronze age history.

There is a song about this heather-covered moor called ‘On Ilkley Moor baht ‘at’, also known as Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem.

The walk starts at the Cow and Calf rocks car park. There is a coffee shop here for refreshments at the beginning or the end. There is also the Cow and Calf pub nearby.

cow and calf backdrop

The rock formation is unmistakable at the start. There is one huge rocky outcrop, with a small boulder just away from it.

The big rock and the little one are together named the Cow and Calf. Their more official name, Hangingstone Rocks, is much less well-known.

The path heads left, running parallel to the Wharfe Valley. You get huge panoramics in all directions.

ilkley moor path

You can see all the way to the higher peaks of the Dales and then over The Chevin to the lower Wharfedale to the East. Below, you have a full aerial view of Ilkley itself.

You will come across many rocks en route which have markings dating back to the Bronze Age. Cup rings galore. This has been a special place to people for a long, long time.

12 apostles stone circle

Eventually you will turn right and head deeper onto the moor towards The 12 Apostles Stone Circle.

Surrounded by heather and moorland, this is a ring of 12 (small) stones. Originally, it is thought that there were up to 20 stones. It is also known that at some point they were scattered and fell deep into the heather, so people later on must have placed them in their current circle that you see today. 

After a break at the circle, you can either turn right for a shorter route back to the car park, or, as I have here, continue on to the summit of the Moor. The path goes straight on and very gradually upward to the summit trig point.

ilkley moor trig

Take in the expansive views before taking the path gradually down, making your way back to the Cow and Calf.

This is a walk that you won’t forget, one that entices you back time and time again. There are pathways in so many directions and so much to see.

You will find the downloadable GPX for my actual route that takes in all this at

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