Walking: Step this way for a happy new year

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Here’s one to blow away the new year hangovers - a breezy circuit of Ilkley Moor and its neighbour, Burley Moor, visiting some of the moor’s most famous attractions.

Make sure everyone in the party is well-shod as some of the moorland tracks can be very muddy at this time of year.

Ilkley has a long and interesting past. During the Roman occupation, Ptolemy, writing in the reign of the emperor Antoninus (circa 150AD), described Olicana (Ilkley) as one of the “nine cities of the Brigantes”. This war-like confederation of Celtic tribes opposed the Roman advance through the north at every opportunity but, ultimately, proved no match for the might of Rome.

Large Brigantian settlements or “cities” such as Ilkley and Aldborough (Isurium), near Boroughbridge, were converted into Roman forts after being subdued, Ilkley’s occupation dating from the end of the 1st century AD. The town officially celebrated its 1,900th anniversary in 1980.

Ilkley is believed to have been a place of worship since the beginning of Christianity in the north, following the conversion of the Northumbrian king, Edwin, at York in 627AD. Historians claim that the first church at Ilkley was built from materials from the abandoned Roman fort during the 7th century. What is known for certain is that a Saxon place of worship existed at Ilkley from the late-8th to early-9th centuries. The present church has three fine stone preaching crosses from 800-850AD.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Ilkley’s most illustrious family, the Myddletons (later styled Middleton), lived on the hillside on the northern edge of the town, first on their estate at Nesfield and then at Myddleton Lodge.

At what period they came into possession of the Lordship of the Manor is difficult to ascertain, some historians say it was during the reign of Henry Vl in the mid-15th century while others maintain they bought the manor in 1553. The family remained at Myddleton Lodge until the early years of the 20th century, a link with the area stretching back 800 years.

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