Distance: 5 miles; 8 km
Estimated Time: 2.5 hours
Map: OS297 – Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley Map
Route: View in Google Maps
GPX File: Download GPX file (desktop only) – What is a GPX file?
The Cow and Calf are large rocks that can be seen from a distance. The area next to the Cow and Calf was voted one of the UK’s Top 10 Lunch Spots in 2013 in a poll by Kingsmill.
The Twelve Apostles are a collection of 12 stones that are deemed a national importance by Historic England. There were initially more than 12 stones, and none of the current stones are in their original position, and their initial intentions are not fully understood. There are theories the stones are part of a burial or ritual or used in measuring the passing of each season.
You will hear and see plenty of grouse on your walk. In 2018, Bradford Council did not renew the licence for grouse hunting on Ilkley Moor, which has caused some controversy.
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Parking and Facilities
The Ilkley Moor Car Park is a free car park. It is located next to the Cow & Calf Rock Cafe.
The full address is
Ilkley Moor Car Park
There are no toilets on the route or in the car park.
Start of the Walk
From the back of the Ilkley Moor Car Park, follow the path leading to the “calf”, the rock standing alone on the right.
Once passed the “calf” there are many little paths created by previous footsteps wondering around the rocks. Keep following the route away from the rocks and aim for the path that is higher up. You can see it leading away in the distance.
Continue following the path.
After the wooden bridge, turn left up the incline, coming away from the main path.
You will be able to see and hear Backstone Beck on your left-hand side. There are multiple paths that can be taken in this area, keep following Backstone Beck.
Keep left as the path splits in two.
Keep right rather than crossing Backstone Beck.
At the crossing of Backstone Beck, take the path leading off right.
There’s a seating area with a box of poems that you can read or contribute to. The poem box is part of the Stanza Stones Trail created in 2012.
The poem I received was from Henry.
There was a little grouseHenry, aged 7
And he chased after me
He chased me over heather
When I met a bee
The bee chased after me
When the grouse was running too
To stop them both from chasing me
I turned and shouted BOO!
Keep following the path left.
The Twelve Apostles.
Keep left at the split.
Turn left away from the main path.
Continue straight ahead at the wooden signpost.
The route passes Lower Lanshaw Dam.
Turn left at the next signpost.
Continue following the main path.
Keep right as the path splits.
Turn right as you approach the Cow and Calf rocks.
You will see the Ilkley Moor Car Park.