A suprisingly beautiful day in west Yorkshire (we are staying in Shipley as part of a house swap with friends) inspired us to go to Ilkley and up to the famous moor. Anyone who has been here would know that Ilkley is a busy tourist spot, there's even a Pizza Express and an M&S at the station - amazing if you compare it to Keighley which isn't so far away.
In fact it's been a busy tourist trap for years. Charles Darwin stayed here with his family, at a big house now called Hillside (with blue plaque), to correct the proofs of Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin always thought he was ailing so he came partly to try out the waters at White Wells. Nowadays it is a cafe (flags from all nations up when it is open) but then you popped up for an icy plunge bath. The Victorian copy writers managed to convince the public that the Romans used to use it and that it was an unmissable experience with water that is "mellifluent, diaphanous, limpid, luminous transparent, pellucid" and the "nectar of gods and goddesses".
Darwin probably believed them, and probably had a dip too. When you realise how gullible he could be it makes his discoveries all the more amazing.
But we're tourists too - so off we go along the path to the Rocky Valley and over to the Cow & Calf rocks but on a route that just misses the Pancake rocks. On the way Pete is determined to see the cup marked rocks (there are masses marked on OS maps in this area) but when we find one scored with rings he dismisses it as local (possibly Victorian) grafitti. How we laugh when he later looks at the map and realises that was the real McCoy.
Just as they probably said about Darwin in Chile we rather implied that when it comes to fools on the look out for rocks/specimens, etc, well there's one born every minute.
And then we walked back down the path to the train station via a cart stall offering Yorkshiredales ice creams by a long-suffering, midge bitten Pole or Romanian man. I was very happy to buy his cones and stuffed with sugary cream quickly shot Ilkely Moor into the best place for a walk that I know. In summer it's got everything: prehistory, rocks, signage, controversy, scrambling opps and a cafe and ice creams.