Described by The Guardian as ‘a la-di-da spa town’ Ilkley certainly rivals its nearby neighbour of Harrogate thanks to its blossom-lined streets, well-heeled stores, refined wine bars, and of course, the famous Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms. Akin to its North Yorkshire counterpart, people began flocking to Ilkley in the 19th century to soak up the therapeutic air and restorative, moorland waters. These famous moors that were the inspiration for the well-known folk song ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘t’ now welcome walkers seeking out the breath-taking views from the Cow and Calf Rocks which sit majestically above the town.

The famous Ilkley Moor and the town beneath. The famous Ilkley Moor and the town beneath. (Image: Newsquest)

Popular not only with those for a thirst for outdoorsy pursuits, this West Yorkshire gem in the Wharfe Valley draws in huge crowds each year with its array of festivals from its Food & Drink Festival in June to the Literary Festival in October, while Ilkley Playhouse and the charming independent cinema provide entertainment all year round. Many come for the culture, but plenty end up staying for the lifestyle and community spirit the town prides itself on. There’s a myriad of clubs covering a range of interests available to join providing a perfect to integrate into local life. Boasting excellent commuter links to Leeds and Bradford via train, along with beautiful properties and excellent schools, it’s no wonder it's such a popular place to relocate. However, the unique selling point has to be its cosmopolitan offering combined with its countryside charm.


Plenty of shopping spots along The GrovePlenty of shopping spots along The Grove (Image: Heidi Marfitt)


Jump feet first into a truly unique Ilkley experience by making your way up to White Wells when the flag is flying. Instrumental in establishing Ilkley as a spa town since 1703, many people have taken the plunge into the icy waters of its bathing well, including renowned naturalist Charles Darwin. Ease yourself in by first taking a trip to Ilkley Lido for a scenic swim against the backdrop of the Moors. If you prefer to say high and dry, the centre of town is the perfect place for a spot of shopping where you’ll find an eclectic mix of businesses along the high street – from well-known stores like Mint Velvet and Jigsaw to indies such as Attic Womenswear and the Bath House. Lose yourself amongst the treasure trove of books at Grove Bookshop or pick out something pretty in jewellers Lister Horsfall and Azendi. Foodies are well catered with a range of exciting eateries and beer lovers should check out Ilkley Brewery celebrating its 15th anniversary this year - always with a new brew on the go.

Plenty of places to eat in Ilkley. Plenty of places to eat in Ilkley. (Image: Newsquest)

For breakfast head to Toast House which offers all the tasty toast toppings one could possibly wish for or seek out Thirty Nine for an all-day brunch offering. Get your fill of homemade pasta at Pranzo or enjoy a cheeky lunchtime tipple at Friends of Ham where you’ll find unique wines served alongside delicious charcuterie boards. Award winning restaurant The Box Tree is an ideal setting for a special celebration, while new (and good-looking) kid on the block The Penny Bun located in Askwith is set to be a firm favourite amongst locals. This reimagined Yorkshire inn puts local sustainable produce at the heart of its offering and its scandi-style rooms are the perfect excuse to switch off from everyday life. Get yourself acquainted with the history of the town by following the Three Bridges Trail to discover their importance in Ilkley’s heritage or visit Manor House – a 14th century building built on the footprint of a Roman fort.



Typical properties in Ilkley town centre. Typical properties in Ilkley town centre. (Image: Kgphotography)


Being a former Victorian spa town, Ilkley is full of gorgeous properties to buy with row upon row of stone terraces and townhouses. Prospective buyers will also find a number of grand Georgian villas for sale that make the most handsome of homes. The town itself is full of pretty tree-lined streets, but one of the most desirable areas is north across the River Wharfe in the village of Middleton. With stunning south-facing views across the valley it’s clear to see why it’s so sought after. Prices in Ilkley vary depending on what you’re after – large, detached townhouses sell for an average of £800,000, but many are on the market for a million plus. For a smaller townhouse and semi-detached houses, you’re looking more in the region of half a million upwards, while terraces and cottages sell for an average of £400,000. Apartments in the town can set you back anywhere between £125,000 all the way up to £700,000. There are also rental opportunities in the town, with prices starting at £750 for a one-bedroom apartment.


Sarah CloughSarah Clough (Image: Courtesy of Sarah Clough.)


Sarah Clough is a 'movement, wellness, and longevity' coach and has lived in Ilkley for 24 years. She shares what she loves most about the town: ‘I love the combination of it being a beautiful little retail town with lots of amenities - obviously we have the swimming pool, we’ve got a fabulous playhouse, lovely cinema, beautiful parks, markets at the weekends, the Literature Festival, but as well as all that, we also have the Moors right on our doorstep. It’s just the perfect blend of town life and countryside living. We also have lots of beautiful, independent businesses here which people really value. With everything on people’s doorstep they’re able to go out for lovely meals, but then balance that with cycling, swimming, and being active – there's a large athletic group here. I also think a big draw to the town are the people who live here – Yorkshire folk are just lovely.’