RSF - The Off Road Cycling Club

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RSF Yorkshire Group Ride – 21st August 2019 – The Stanza Stones

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Click on the image above for more or Roger's photos on Flickr


The creation of the Stanza Stones was a project undertaken a few years ago as part of the Ilkley Literature Festival.  2019 Poet Laureate Simon Armitage was commissioned to produce a series of poems on the subject of Water – Puddles, Mist, Dew etc – the poems to be carved on a series of stone features on a route between Marsden – Armitage’s birthplace – and Ilkley. The Festival Organisers consulted RSF on the location of the stones, with the result that the six individual stones are located on a route allowing access by both Northern Peak and South Pennine / Yorkshire Dales RSF riders.

Two of the Stones (Dew, Puddle) can be accessed on a gentle, substantially off road route starting and finishing at llkley, and the (third) Beck Stone by a short post lunch ride up towards the Cow and Calf, parking up, and then walking the last few hundred yards. So this is what eight of us did, starting in true RSF tradition at the nearest free parking location to Ilkley Town centre, over the bridge on Denton Road.  Our ride began on what on a weekend is one of the busiest cycle routes in England (Ilkley Cycle Club has over a thousand members) past the golf course and  across the footbridge over the Wharfe at Addingham. This village featured in two Stages of the 2014 Tour de France route,and led  onto our first off road section, the gradual ascent up Parson’s Lane to Cringles. 

After crossing the main road we continued climbing along what was a very wet Lippersley Lane, then along the escarpment to the next off road section that took us past Black Pots and into the haunted forest.  All survived the experience of the haunted forest, and we emerged at Rivock Oven, where the Dew stones are located.  We celebrated our success in emerging from the haunted forest and finding the Stones with readings from the Stanza Stones book about the provenance of the Dew Stones – a quarry near Brighouse. 

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The next destination was the Puddle Stones, which are located on Rombalds Moor, high above Ilkley. Although the route to these stones was substantially tarmac, it was no ordinary tarmac,  as it features in Simon Warren’s “Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire” on page 127 with a 6/10 rating. So it took us a while to get to the point on the moor where the tarmac ended.  You then have to negotiate about half a mile of slabbed track, which caught out a number of us when we failed to realise how technical it was. We gave way to a friendly lady jogger as we reached the Stones,  a  courtesy she acknowledged by taking the obligatory group photo. The Puddle Stones came from a mill near Bolton, but they were originally quarried in Yorkshire, so they have come home, so to speak. 

The route off the moor down into Ilkley is a belting descent, but unfortunately two of our number encountered punctures, which was a bit unfortunate. But eventually we arrived at Wetherspoons for a well earned lunch.  After lunch three of us went to see the third and final stone, the Beck Stone, where Pip Hall had carved Simon Armitage’s verse onto a large stone situated in the middle of a beck aka stream. After parking up on the main road, we then spent a quarter of an hour trying to find the stone, and cursing the Ride Leader who had not done a proper reccy, or even any reccy at all of this location. Eventually we found it, and Roger was able to tick off the full set of six.

An enjoyable day out on a variety of surfaces, with a bit of culture thrown in. 

For more information about the Stanza Stones, a link is here

And for anyone who would like to do the route for themselves, the route is here

Reid Anderson