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Write on for Ilkley's Literary festival

PUBLISHED: 13:21 13 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013

Write on for Ilkley's Literary festival

Write on for Ilkley's Literary festival

Scores of famous writers are heading to the West Yorkshire town as it gears up for its literature festival Photography by Kirsty Thompson

This years Ilkley Literature Festival will leave a legacy thats set in stone. For generations to come, long after his books are out of print, visitors will be able to read poems by Simon Armitage carved on stones and boulders in the countryside around the town.


When the project is complete the series of seven poems will form a trail from Marsden, where the poet lives, to Ilkley. first is now in situ, with the final stone expected to be completed and in place by next May.


Each of the poems is about water and Simon spent days driving, walking and cycling around the moors in search of inspiration and places where the finished stones could stand, some on exiting outcrops, others on stones which have been brought in specifically.


I am normally writing for someone who has picked up a poetry book, said Simon. But here was writing for a different audience someone who has just happened upon a poem.


Ilkley Moor is full of cup and ring markings and all kinds of carvings on the rocks which are tens of thousands of years old and we revere them and protect them. Deep down wanted to make a linguistic contribution.


The fact that its going to be there for hundreds of years affected the language used. didnt want to use colloquial or contemporary language. It would be no use if anyone who read them needed a dictionary to understand them, or if they werent understandable within a decade because our language has moved on, so wanted to make the language more universal.


The Stanza Stones project will form a key part of the festival which starts at the end of this month and will include more than 200 events at venues around the town.

lkley Literature Festival was opened by WH Auden in 1973, when it was the only festival of its kind in the North and it has continued to attract high profile names ever since this years headliners include Janet Street-Porter, Mark Haddon and Jeremy Paxman.


Abbey Vale, the festivals marketing officer, said: Were really excited and confident its going to be a wonderful festival. Every year the festival just seems to get better and better.


We have a lot this year about words and the landscape and the Stanza Stones project is particularly exciting but the quality and liferange of authors this year is terrific.


Our festival is quite different to a lot of the others you will find around the country. It is quite a big event but it retains a friendliness thats not always apparent at these festivals. The festival is a fantastic thing for and for Yorkshire as a whole. We have a strong heritage of writing and literature to begin with.


They certainly do. Jilly Cooper is a former resident as is Enid Blytons daughter Gillian Baverstock and Postman Pats creator John Cunliffe lives in the town and is patron of the childrens literature festival.


As soon as the curtain came down on last years literature festival, preparations began for this years event at the festival office in the grounds of the Manor House Museum.

he museum is housed in one of Ilkleys oldest buildings and is this year marking its 50th anniversary as a museum. Built on the site of the Roman fort of Olicana, the displays prehistoric and Roman artefacts and gives an insight into the development of as a spa town.


he town grew rapidly in Victorian times as people came to take the waters. Water from the spa was reputed to have healing qualities and Charles Darwin and Madame Tussaud are said to have been among those who indulged in a spot of hydropathy here.


Shoppers in Ilkley are spoiled for choice with a range of independent boutiques and big name stores around the compact town centre. And going hungry here is not an option as well as a number of pubs and restaurants, Ilkley is home to two of Yorkshire foods finest Bettys iconic tearooms and David Lishmans award winning butchers shop.


And David has added to the already bulging menu of regional food with a Yorkshire Sausage, launched (if thats what you do with a sausage) on Yorkshire Day last month.


After months of sausage sampling and taste testing around the county,
the people of Yorkshire made their choice and selected a sausage made with Yorkshire pork and seasoned with white pepper, mace, nutmeg, ground coriander and parsley.


The people of Yorkshire seem to be quite conservative in their tastes, David said. But its the kind of sausage which is perfect for breakfast, bangers and mash or toad in the hole.

Ilkley to the fore

lkley golf club is the third oldest in Yorkshire and is where Colin Montgomerie learned the game

Tickets for Ilkley Literature Festival events go on sale at 9am on August 30th and are available from the box office on 01943 816714 or online at www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk.


On January 31st, 1944, a Halifax Bomber on a training run from Dishforth Airfield crashed on a deserted hillside on Ilkley Moor killing all the crew. A memorial stone now marks the spot All Saints parish church stands on the site of a Saxon church and contains three Saxon crosses. The church is largely medieval but was rebuilt in Victorian times


lkley Toy Museum, on Whitton Croft Road, contains just about every toy you ever unwrapped at Christmas and the ones you really wanted. They also have exhibits dating back more than 2000 years.

Getting there: Ilkley stands beside the A65 in the Wharfe valley. railway station is in the town centre and has regular services to Leeds and Bradford. If you have a sat nav, LS29 8EQ should take you to the town centre.


Where to park:
There is a pay and display car park in South Hawksworth Street and some on street parking is available.


What to do: There are 210 events at this years literature festival but wonderful walks, super shops and stunning scenery are available all year round. No visit is complete without a trip to the moor and, obviously, dont forget your hat.



The print version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life

We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here

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