River Wharfe in Ilkley

Rory Calland
River Wharfe
Wikimedia Commons

The Wharfe’s passage through Ilkley has never been a hidden gem to locals or wild swim enthusiasts from around the parish. It has been well known and well used for years.

What is particularly remarkable about this stretch of river is that it was in 2020 declared a designated bathing site – the first in the country to receive this status. This ruling, fuelled by local passions, is an environmental landmark as well as a fillip to those who love to dip in freshwater. It means that the river will be subject to regular and rigorous testing to make sure it’s fit to swim in.

The Ilkley Riverside Gardens are a popular gathering spot and a fine place for a picnic. They’re also a good place to begin a walk along the banks of the Wharfe. Whether you head up or downstream, you’ll soon spy a jumping in point. Bridges are important waymarkers in Ilkley and the fun tends to happen between the ‘Old Bridge’ and the suspension bridge a mile or so east. When the water is low there’s space on both sides to set up camp and get into your swimming skivvies.

It’s worth having a look at the ‘Old Bridge’ as it can be a little quieter there, and the two-arched stone crossing itself is nearly 350 years old. The south side of the ‘Old Bridge’ is notable for being the start of the Dales Way, handy if you fancy an 80 mile trek to Lake Windermere after your swim.

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What's on near River Wharfe in Ilkley

AJ West
AJ West at Truman Books

Bestselling author AJ West’s latest historical thriller The Betrayal of Thomas True has been described by Stephen Fry as “really very good” and Farsley independent Truman Books is giving you the chance to hear more.

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Where to go near River Wharfe in Ilkley

The Riverside Hotel

A superb, picturesque riverside setting, en suite rooms, bar and restaurant, The Riverside Hotel makes an excellent base for exploring the moors.

Ilkley Manor House
Ilkley Manor House

Visit the collection of Roman artefacts in one of the oldest buildings in Yorkshire, or host a particularly special occasion at Ilkley Manor House.

Tinker Gallery

Ilkley’s contemporary art gallery, set up by artist Joanne Tinker, is a studio space in combination with a gallery.

The Box Tree Restaurant

The Box Tree has been a vital step in many top chef’s careers, and with two Michelin stars to its name you can expect a meal to remember.

Bed & Breakfast
The Crescent Inn

The Crescent Inn is a comfortable and cosy, pub style bed and breakfast that takes pride in championing local goods.

Ilkley Playhouse

The Playhouse has a well established season of productions, also used as a venue for events, including the popular Ilkley Literature Festival.

Grove bookshop
Grove Bookshop

Grove Bookshop has been an integral part of Ilkely town centre for decades, feeding the town’s enthusiasm for literature.

Ilkley Cinema

Ilkley Cinema combines relaxed and sociable spaces, state of the art screening technology, and a great programme of indies.

Ilkley Library

Ilkley Library is one of the older institutions in the town. They regularly host literary events as well as bringing books and services to the community.

Ilkley Lido
Ilkley Lido

Incorporating a tennis courts and a bowling green, Ilkley Lido is a grade II listed outdoor pool, with a stunning view of the moors.

The Wheatley Arms

Standing in the leafy village of Ben Rhydding, the Wheatley Arms offers fantastic contemporary accommodation in a traditional Yorkshire inn.

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