Nature’s very own majestic sunset boulevard

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WITH the sky a saturated canvas of blood orange spilling into hypnotic amber shades, there are echoes of the intense, mesmerising colours of a Van Gogh painting, or a Gaugin, in this stunning photograph.

The late summer sunset offers a sharp contrast with the silhouetted outcrop of ragged rocks (notice the two figures clambering over the top) that stand prominently in the foreground.

As many of you will no doubt recognise, these are the famous Cow and Calf rocks perched high on Ilkley Moor overlooking the town in the valley below.

Ilkley Moor is a popular stretch of moorland between Ilkley and Keighley, and this vista is one of the best-loved in Yorkshire - Alan Titchmarsh is among its many fans and has said the view from the Cow and Calf looking down over his home town remains his favourite.

The Cow and Calf Rocks are a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder, also known as Hangingstone Rocks. The rocks are made of millstone grit, a variety of sandstone, and are so called because one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf.

Where there’s a natural wonder like this a folklore tale is never far behind. Legend has it that the smaller rock, the Calf, was dislodged from the larger, the Cow, by a giant called Rombald (whose name is given to the moor above Skipton) when he leapt across the valley while fleeing from his angry wife, so the story goes. She dropped the rocks that were held in her skirt, forming the smaller formation, known today as the Skirtful of Stones.

Back at the end of the 19th Century some visitors took a hammer and chisel to leave their mark on the rocks, though today it’s the sort of memento that can angrily be achieved with a spray can - one acquiring historical interest while the other is seen as a form of desecration.

The rocks are a great place to climb with the moor an excellent vantage point, offering up views across Ilkley and beyond. And, as you can see here, they don’t make for a shabby photograph either.

Technical details: Nikon D3s 70-200mm lens 1000th @f5.6 320 ISO.

Ryan Adams

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