The Doubler Stones are a pair of fantastic rocks on Ilkley Moor that the elements have eroded into wonderful shapes. This circular walk from Ilkley to these rocks brings gives you many sights. Up through woodland, past the famous Swastika stone, across the heather, to the top of the moor, and back down to the town centre.
You can start this walk from anywhere in Ilkley. We started from a small car park at the bottom of Hebers Ghyll Wood. Alternatively, you can walk from Ilkley town centre or the train station, with a small additional amount of distance and climb. Trains from Leeds run every half an hour to Ilkley.
The path sets out uphill, along a small path by the side of Hebers Ghyll. This wood is full of bluebells in season (April-May) but is still lovely at any time of year. The path can be slippery, as leaves and mud cover the floor. Atmospheric wooden bridges carry you from one side of the ghyll (mountain stream) to the other, as you wind your way upwards. This is the steepest part of the walk.
- Take map, compass, sunhat, waterproof jacket, plenty of water, lunch and/or snacks, and a rucksack.
- The map to take for this hike is the Ordnance Survey Explorer 297*.
- There are many paths on Ilkley Moor. Keep Wharfedale, the valley of Ilkley, in sight, so that even if you take the wrong trail, you can find your way off the moor.
- You can easily shorten this walk by taking more direct paths.
- The weather can be very variable. Mist can descend quickly, making navigation a lot more tricky.
- The moor can be very wet and muddy at times, waterproof boots are recommended.
- For an informative walk through town, check out IlkleyTreeTrails
- You can find other Yorkshire ideas in our Yorkshire Guide.
At the top of the wood, you come out directly onto Ilkley Moor. Turn west (right), and uphill through a little bracken, before reaching a larger trail. Continue along this fairly flat trail through a gate in the wall. After a few hundred metres, you’ll reach the Swastika Stone, behind bars on your right-hand side.
The Swastika Stone
The Swastika Stone is a famous ancient rock carving on Ilkley Moor. The Swastika is a very old symbol – used well before its association with the Nazis.
It’s the only carving of its kind in the UK, though there is a similar one in Italy, leading people to think they are connected. Indeed, in Roman times, the Roman soldiers stationed here may originally have come from Italy. If these soldiers carved it, it would have been made in the first centuries AD.
Another theory is that it’s much older, dating to the Early Bronze Age, 2000 BC.
Continue along the same path for another 2.5 km. This takes you along the edge of a plateau, at the top of the steeper slopes to your right. You’ll pass through a few stone walls, either using gates or styles. From here you can see fabulous views across Wharfedale valley, and up into the Yorkshire Dales.
Shortly before a forest, you’ll reach a junction by a wall, with many paths. Go through the wall and turn left, to head back towards the direction you’ve come from. Continue along the path by the wall until you find a path leading directly away from the wall. Follow this downhill and roughly 400 metres later you will see the Doubler Stones before you.
The Doubler Stones are naturally carved rocks. Over thousands of years, erosion has worn away the softer parts of the rock. The flat tops are made of harder rock to that below, so get eroded more slowly. The tops are made of gritstone, while just underneath is sandstone. The gritstone contains larger sized grains, and a lot of quartz, which can withstand erosion much better.
After admiring the stones, we headed back a little way, before cutting across the moorland. This was a shortcut, to get to the next path, and meant about 200 m walking through the heather. Alternatively, you can continue further down the path a few hundred metres, before turning left (South) back up the hill.
Either way, now head back up to the wall. Follow the wall east, with the wall on your left, all the way along to the junction with the Keighley road. For a shortcut, reducing the distance by a third, you can head down this track and back to Ilkley. To keep on going, continue along the path by the wall until you reach the top of the moor. There are splendid views from here.
We then continued further in the same direction, before heading left (North), back down towards Ilkley. After winding our way across the moor, we arrived at the top of Panorama Woods. A small gate leads off the moor onto a quiet road, and from here steps lead steeply downwards.
Once you reach the track at the bottom of the steps, turn left (west) along it. The track turns into a footpath, which takes you back to the small car park at the beginning.