RSF - The Off Road Cycling Club

The Adventure Starts Here



What seems a very long time ago now on a RSF ride the topic of the Stanza Stones came up. Rather foolishly I suggested a ride featuring a visit to one or more of the stones. Foolishly,  because Rob Newton overheard my comment and asked me if I could organise this.  I had hoped that he would have forgotten but sadly he hadn’t and “Reid’s Stanza Stones Ride” appeared in the calendar.

I had made the comment without any idea of what such a ride would look like; it was only when I sat down and gave some proper attention to the location of the stones that I realised that perhaps it was a bit of a daft idea.

For the uninitiated, the Stanza Stones are a number (6) of stones on which local stonemason Pip Hall has carved poems by Yorkshire’s favourite Bard,  Simon Armitage. Each poem is in some way linked to water (Snow, Mist, Dew etc) and the stones are located between Marsden (Simon’s birthplace) and Ilkley – the work was commissioned as part of the Ilkley Literature festival a few years ago. Some of the stones were already  in situ, others flagstones brought in for the purpose. 

I decided to start the ride in Ilkley as 3 of the stones are located within reasonable distance of the town. Also because if done as a figure of eight we could take advantage of Ilkley’s comprehensive range of foodie offers e.g Michelin starred Box Tree, through Bettys to Wetherspoons and Booths cafe. But, as a sine qua non for a Yorkshire RSF ride, because  it had free parking at the start (bridge over the River Wharfe at the end of New Brook Street).


The route chosen was about 50/50 off road / on road. I decided to do it anticlockwise from Ilkley as this got all the climbing on road out of the way at the start, with the flat and downhill off road sections for later. So we started by taking the popular road past the golf club to the bridleway leading to the footbridge at Addingham. After crossing the main road we made our way up the long slog known as Addingham Moorside or Cocking Lane.

After regrouping at the top we set off along Light Bank Lane to find the Dew stone. Leaving the tarmac at SE 065 464 we made our way along the very pleasant track passing Black Pots and into the High Moor plantation. The stone is right beside the track at Rivock Oven. We spent an interesting 10 minutes considering the verse; some observant souls noted that the poem did not rhyme, leading to another interesting discussion.

Descending to Silsden Road we headed east to Ilkley Road and the long climb up to the masts at Whetstone Gate.  The Puddle Stones are located about half a mile from the masts along a flagged track which looks easy but is in fact quite technical. I was not sure of its status as a bridleway but decided to give it a go and give way to any pedestrians we came across. We did come across a walker with his dog and we stopped for a chat (aimed at finding out if he knew how far it was to the Stones).  Again the Stones are right next to the trail so location was not too difficult. I subsequently discovered that Bradford Council have given permission for MTBs to use the moor including this trail but I personally would not put a lot of money on them being to defend that position if challenged by members of the Militant Tendency (Walkers Section).


The last of our 3 stones was the Beck Stone, located at the foot of the climb up to the Cow and Calf. We made our way there along the wonderful and scary descent off Ilkley Moor onto Wells Road, turning right onto Crossbeck Road and emerging  close to where  Beckstone Beck runs under Cowpasture Road.  It  is a long time since cows were pastured here, the principal current activity being the education of children from rich families. We parked the bikes and made the short walk up to the Beck Stone. This was the most difficult part of Pip Hall’s work – she had to carve the letters freehand (no tracing) while standing up to her waist in a waterfall. 

We then retraced into Ilkley and enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Wetherspoons. It was particularly leisurely as I had completely underestimated the time needed for the morning ride and had run out of time to do the planned afternoon route over Denton Moor. Never mind, there is always a next time.

Thanks to everyone who came out on the ride, I hope you found it an interesting and enjoyable as I did. 

Reid Anderson


Andy's photos can be viewed here:


And Irene's here: