Inside this issue
In Rombalds Wake
A photography project on Ilkley Moor
I am a full time landscape and travel photographer, based in Yorkshire. My work takes me into Cumbria, the Dales, the North Yorkshire Moors and the Scottish Highlands. I am drawn to the myths and old legends of these ancient places and try hard to bring them to life through the photographic medium.
The River Wharfe rises at Beckermonds in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Flowing roughly south-east for 65 miles through some of England's finest scenery, it eventually meets the River Ouse near York and then flows into the North Sea. A third of the way along its course, it meets the little town of Ilkley, with its fashionable shops, pubs and eateries.
Ilkley is a nice place. Two thousand years ago a Roman fort (Olicana) was built here. Thereafter, not too much happened for nearly 2 millennia– until that is, a gentleman in Queen Victoria's time decided that the spring water coming off the moors was good for your health. A spa was erected and the town boomed!
Apart from the spa, Ilkley is famous for another thing: a little ditty entitled On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at – which is meant to be sung in Yorkshire dialect – and is translated to mean “on Ilkley Moor without a hat.”
Ilkley Moor rises steeply to the South of the town and levels out at 1320 feet. Combining with other high moors of Baildon, Hawksworth, Bingley, Burley, Morton, Addingham High, Silsden, Kildwick, Bradley and Skipton Moor, it is collectively known as Rombalds Moor. In local legend, Rombald was the name of a giant who stomped his way over these moors, often followed by his quarrelsome wife (who is always nameless). She is famous for chasing him across the miles of moorland with a skirt full of stones, dropping them occasionally. Some of these piles of stones are known as the Little and Great Skirtful of Stones – and are in fact prehistoric burial mounds. There is an article that I once read saying that one of these mounds had over 300 cartloads of stones removed from it, to repair local walls. It is a shadow of its former self…
In reality, Rombald was probably a corruption of Robert de Romille, the first Norman Lord of Skipton, although some have suggested he may be a remembrance of the Old Norse giant 'Raumr' (meaning 'big and ugly').
To the North of Ilkley the moors of Blubberhouses, Denton, Askwith and Barden rise up and continue on to neighbouring Nidderdale and beyond. They are bleak, wild and utterly captivating.