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Be inspired every day with Living North
trees on the top of a valley Ilkley Moor
Places to go
December 2022
Reading time 3 Minutes

When you want to know where to go… you ask a local

David Cook, who runs Thirty Nine café and bakehouse in Ilkley with his family, guides us around his favourite spots in this busy town at the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales.

Ilkley is a vibrant and buzzing town full of independent businesses all with their own unique character, which makes it one of the best places to live and visit in the UK. The local residents’ support for Ilkley businesses is really something – our locals shop local, and quite rightly so! If you are paying us a visit, here’s what to look out for.

Thirty Nine on the Grove

Eat & Drink

Emporia Italia is a wonderfully different and traditionally Italian experience for either lunch or dinner, their menu changes every day and is lovingly explained by the chef – the hardest part is deciding what to go for. For something a little more formal in the evening, Host has a fabulous menu created and cooked by talented local chef Joel Monkman. 

For all-day eating, head to Thirty Nine on the Grove where we serve breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as delicious coffee (tea, smoothies and milkshakes are also on the menu) and homemade cakes and bakes. It’s a family business, run by my wife and I, along with our two daughters, and our menu is seasonal and sourced as locally as possible with warm and welcoming seating inside, and outside overlooking the Grove. 

If you’re looking for a tipple and nibble then Martinez is the place to go, with more wines by the glass than you can possibly imagine. Enjoy some brilliant wines, local beers and tapas in their bar, or buy a bottle or six from their wonderful shop. If you are unsure their staff are always on hand with expert knowledge.

Read More: Our Guide to the Yorkshire Town of Otley

The Grove Bookshop


The Grove is the place to shop in Ilkley; the backbone of the town. It has many glorious independents such as Nora’s, a wonderful retail experience where you can find some wonderful interiors and Yorkshire gifts along with some carefully-curated accessories, or there is Covet for ethically-sourced interior decoration and home accessories. For some exceptional pre-loved designer fashion pop into The Ilkley Dress Agency, a favourite with the ladies of Ilkley. Just off The Grove is the wonder that is Mortens hardware, brilliantly stocking everything to fix anything – I could spend hours in here, the team here are incredibly knowledgable and helpful. The Grove Bookshop is where we often lose our youngest for hours on end. 

On the Grove Promenade (near the main car park) is where you can find the amazing and ever expanding Ilkley Shoe Company, and some amazing shoes, bags, jackets and wellies to buy whilst you get your keys cut and boots mended!

Read More: Nine Dog Walks Across Yorkshire and the North East

White Wells


There are many wonderful places of culture and walking opportunities in and around Ilkley. Of course there is the Cow and Calf Rocks with outstanding views over all of Ilkley. From there, there are so many beautiful walks over Ilkley Moor, one of which will take you to White Wells, a natural bathing place since 1703, and where Charles Darwin is believed to have ’taken the waters’ in 1859.

Over the other side of the river is Middleton Woods, which is the largest remaining ancient woodland in West Yorkshire, and well worth exploring. For the historians, Ilkley Manor House is well worth a visit, a Grade I-listed building built within the footprint of a Roman Fort, it plays host to many events from family fun to art exhibitions.

The Kings Hall & Winter Gardens is a must-visit. A traditional Victorian Theatre and adjacent glass-roofed spa hall, it’s superbly suited to theatrical and musical events as well as the Martinez annual charity wine tasting extravaganza, on the 1st November this year.

Read More: See Beverley's Gothic Minster and Explore the Town's Foodie Outlets
Don’t Miss

The first Sunday of every month is the food market on The Grove so make sure you grab some tasty treats from Marcella at The Ilkley Kitchen here, or every Saturday pick up fresh fruit, veg, fish, flowers, cheese or unique jewellery from the many great stalls there.

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