The spa town of Ilkley lies on the southern banks of the River Wharfe, in the Yorkshire Dales. It is located in Wharfedale, 17 miles northwest of the city of Leeds. Famous for its fine Victorian architecture and colourful floral displays, it is a popular base for visitors to the Dales. Exploring the town centre from your holiday cottage in Ilkley, you will discover leafy streets lined with a variety of independent businesses. Lishman’s of Ilkley is one of Yorkshire’s best butchers, with several awards under its belt and the best-quality produce from local farms. Betty’s is another of the town’s beloved institutions, serving exceptional afternoon tea. Housed in a historic sandstone building, the Box Tree is a Michelin-starred restaurant serving exquisite dishes such as terrine of foie gras with a salad of smoked eel.
Not to be missed on self-catering holidays in Ilkley, the Manor House is one of the town’s oldest buildings, housing a gallery and a museum with exhibits on the town’s development as a Victorian spa destination. Ilkley Toy Museum has a remarkable collection, with exhibits dating all the way back to 350BC. On the edge of the town, Ilkley Moor is a bracken and heather-covered moorland crisscrossed by footpaths. It is dotted with rocky outcrops which provide far-reaching views across the Dales, including the Cow and Calf Rocks, overlooking the town. There is a café near the rocks where walkers can stop for a well-deserved refreshment after the strenuous ascent. Nearby, equally picturesque walks can be enjoyed in Middleton Woods. The Old Bridge in Ilkley marks the start of the Dales Way, a spectacular 84-mile route to Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. The town’s literature festival is the largest of its kind in the North, and takes place annually, in autumn.