This post was written by Rachel, age 16, who entered our Young Persons’ Writing Competition 2019.
Ah, Yorkshire. They don’t call it God’s own county for nothing! With its rolling green hills, iconic landmarks and stunning scenery, not to mention ubiquitous pubs and cafes, Yorkshire is the perfect place for any day trip. But where should one go to get the fullest possible Yorkshire experience this summer?
The answer is somewhere so quintessentially Yorkshire it will not surprise you one bit, yet it is actually often overlooked in favour of larger cities like York and seaside resorts such as Whitby. So what is the answer, you may ask? Ilkley!
Ilkley is a spa town in West Yorkshire which combines bustling shops, wide streets and Victorian architecture with the remote and breathtakingly rugged views of a town in the very heart of the Yorkshire Moors. It is perhaps most famous for being the namesake of the Yorkshire folk song On Ilkla Moor Baht’at (on Ilkley Moor without a hat), a song which is widely regarded as the county’s unofficial anthem and which alludes to the cold and isolated nature of the moor.
However, in the summer, Ilkley is very far from being cold and isolated. As the UK bakes in yet another heatwave, crowds gather at Ilkley Lido for their cooling annual sunrise swim. Others head out onto the moor for a pre-breakfast stroll, or grab their bikes for a morning cycle before the sun’s rays can fully permeate the town and the sluggish afternoon can set in. On every street corner stands a gaggle of kids, pencils and paper and standardized tests long-abandoned in favour of ice cream cones and sunglasses and bottles of coconut-scented sunscreen that get too often slathered on and rarely rubbed in (if you go to Ilkley in the summer, please remember to properly apply sunscreen of at least SPF30 and of at least a four star UVA rating, unless you fancy looking like one of the lobsters on offer for dinner at Ramus Seafood).
If you’ve explored the moor and shopped till you’ve dropped, why not hit up the Manor House Museum and Art Gallery, or buckle up and head to Bolton Abbey, just a 14 minute drive away? Here one can not only see the magnificent ruins of the 12th-century Augustinian Abbey but also enjoy walks, picnics and bike rides in the area, as well as other one-off events such as the Pirate Ship, Pop-up Beach and the Open Air Cinema.
If you’re feeling peckish The Lister’s Arms is the perfect place for a boozy lunch, or if you fancy somewhere more upmarket the local Bettys has a wide range of delicious lunches on offer too, as well as afternoon tea and scones complete with fresh cream and jam.
The Yorkshire fat rascal scone is a must try for those looking for something a bit more unusual; it arrives on a little white china plate with its own silver pot of butter, delicately carved into a shape reminiscent of a buttercup, which brings with it ancient memories of blue sky and the taste of lemonade and summer dresses stained with grass. Upon the first bite, the sweet, crumbly texture melts in your mouth, leaving your taste buds tingling and your hands reaching for more. Wash it down with a mug (sorry, a teacup) of Bettys finest tea and you’re good to go… until next summer when you’ll undoubtedly find yourself heading back to Ikley for more fun in’t sun! Or you could try going back in the winter when the moon is full and the moor is bleak and the air is sharp as the blade of a knife… but that’s a story for another day!
About the Author
Rachel Lane, 14 years old
Entrant- The Tourist Trail Young Persons’ Writing Competition 2019