22 things you’ll only know if you’ve lived in Ilkley
Cow and Calf rocks, Leeds

Home to the Fat Rascal, the Cow and Calf and around nine hundred hairdressers. Ilkley residents are lucky folk.

Take a stroll through just 22 things only we Ilkleyites know to be true.

1. Everyone thinks you’re a posho

The fact is, we’re not all posh. At all. Some of us have even been known to pick our nose in public. But meet anyone from beyond Guiseley and the immediate response is to put on a dodgy plum accent and ask how many cars Daddy drives. Urgh.

2. No one knows the words to Ilkley Moor Bah’tat

“But it’s your town anthem!” they complain. Look, we all know the chorus, and there’s that bit about Mary Jane. Please don’t ask me to attempt to sing it again.

3. The restaurant options are top drawer

Box Tree Food

Whether you’re after a curry, an Italian or a touch of Turkish, you’ll do well not to be satisfied in Ilkley. Not to mention The Box Tree, that fine dining restaurant that no one can afford to eat in. Did you know that Marco Pierre-White learnt his trade there? Of course you did.

4. The nightlife has taken a nosedive

Oh how we long for Johnsons and Il Travatore. Renaissance came and went, and now we’re left with only one real option once it gets past a certain hour – The Yard.

5. All the famouses come to town for a week

Those who take advantage of the spoils on offer at Ilkley’s annual Literature Festival know just how brilliant it really is – and how fascinating some of the guest speakers really are. From Will Self to Melvyn Bragg, Michael Parkinson to WH Auden, they’ve all trod the boards at ‘ILF’.

6. Friends of Ham is a tiny wonderland

Friends of Ham
Credit: friendsofham.com

One of the new kids on the block when it comes to Ilkley’s bars, Wells Road’s Friends of Ham is a welcome addition to the town’s landscape. For beer lovers, there is no finer place, but it is remarkably.. petite, all merely adding to its charm.

7. The Calf was created by a fleeing giant

Cow and Calf rocks, Leeds
Credit: Wiki / CC

Legend has it that the calf was ‘born’ when the giant Rombald trod on the cow whilst fleeing an enemy, supposedly his angry wife. Vicious cult rumours that the smaller rock is in fact the cow, are balderdash!

8. Taxi rank politics are a nightmare

It’s 3.30am, you’ve left The Yard and you’ve been to see Eddie at Valentino’s. The last thing you need is an argument over who’s taxi that was, and whether you ordered a minibus. There’s usually a fight, chips get thrown all over Brook Street, and your hangover is made worse by a chronic case of missing dignity.

9. We all miss Renaissance

Sure, The Black Hat is OK, and yes, it was the cheesiest nightclub in the history of cheesy nightclubs, but come on, who doesn’t have a back catalogue of decent nights out at Renny C’s? Waking up with that stamp on your hand? A real guilty pleasure. RIP.

10. Christmas Eve is the best night out of the year…

You know it. The students are back, the pubs are full of festive cheer, and there’s a fair chance you’ll bump into every old school mate you had since the age of seven.

11. …and New Years Eve is the worst

Who knows why Ilkley has never quite managed to ‘crack’ New Years Eve? Whatever the reason, you’re better off heading into the city. Or working.

12. Jimi Hendrix once played a gig here

Jimi Hendrix

“Hello Ilkley!” It’s got a ring to it, doesn’t it? The rumours are true that Jimi Hendrix brought his Experience to the Troutbeck Hotel to play an impromptu gig back in 1967 to hundreds of excited local youths.

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13. It’s a town of mainly hairdressers…

Seriously, are there even that many heads?

14. …and charity shops

Especially along The Grove.

15. You could play beach volleyball at your local boozer

Beach Volleyball Crown

It’s the stuff of local legend nowadays, but for one weekend every year, the Rose and Crown car park was transformed into Copacabana Beach.

16. We’ve had famous residents

Richard Whiteley
Credit – Wiki / CC

Naughty novelist Jilly Cooper, Baron Donald Wade, Colin Montgomerie and Richard Whiteley have all lived in Ilkley at one time or another, and Ilkley has made it’s mark on the world of music, too. Kaiser Chiefs lead singer turned TV presenter Ricky Wilson is a former resident, 70s rock band Smokie are all from the area, and underrated Britpoppers Gomez stayed in Ilkley whilst recording their 1997 Mercury Prize winning album Bring It On.

17. It’s sport mad

Stroll down New Brook Street and you’re hit with the powerful stench of Deep Heat and testosterone. On your left are the local football fields, to the right sits the home of the rugby-playing ‘Dalesmen’, and straight ahead you’ve got the local cricketers. Throw in the swimming baths and the other cricket club, and you’ve got yourself a veritable sports haven.

18. There’s always a fresh rumour about a new business

Subway, McDonalds, Yates. Endless rumours. At least the cinema/Carluccio’s/Dominos ones turned out to be true.

19. It’s home to the best butcher’s in the world

Joe at Lishmans Butchers, Ilkley

Oh yes. Lishman’s is now nationally renowned for its high quality meat output, but for the hungry Ilkley dweller, it is also the best stop off for breakfast, or a packed lunchtime sarnie.

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20. The lido is only for the brave

It could be 25 degrees, and that lido is still approaching freezing. Pack a beach towel.

21. The Carnival is an opinion splitter

Ilkley Carnival is the Marmite of all Ilkley’s annual events. Some love it, some really, really hate it. The fact is, though, that it brings a tonne of cash into the town every year and brightens the place up for a few hours. Haters gonna hate.

22. It’s better than Otley

Sorry, just is!

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Featured image courtesy of Wiki / CC