Friday, 2 February 2018

Ilkley and Largs: a tale of two towns


I would like to start with a disclaimer, for Abi, this is not a tale, I am sorry, the title just sounded good to me.

That done, I'm blogging one of my 50 things today (you can find more of them in the menu at the top), comparing where I grew up to where I live now.

I grew up in a largely middle class town with an older population which was just a train or bus ride away from my nearest city (actually, cities - Leeds, and Bradford). Now I live in a middle class town with an older population which is just a train or bus ride away from our nearest city. So totes different as you can see.

Ilkley is bigger than Largs, so it naturally has more going on, and it was designed as both a commuter town (the trains into Leeds and Bradford only take 30 minutes when they're working), and a tourist destination, so it has lots of places to walk and things to do. 

I have no idea what people were thinking when they built the train line to Largs, but I suspect it involved alcohol and string. It takes a whole hour to travel into Glasgow on the train and the trains are only once an hour, except for when there aren't any. I don't think this part of Scotland holds any truck with commuters.

There are places to walk in Largs too - mainly along the seafront, which is very pretty but also really cold and wet. In Ilkley you can walk along the river, but there are also lots of woods where you can stroll (there are wooded walks in Largs too, and if you avert your eyes from the hydro-electric works they're rather lovely).

Both towns have big parks by the water with lots of facilities to play. Both have ice cream kiosks by these parks and grassy areas where you can sit and picnic and where festival type events are held.

Both towns have plenty of cafes. The jewel in Largs' crown is Nardinis, while Betty's takes the title in Ilkley. They are both lovely.

Ilkley has an annual literature festival which attracts big names and has LOADS of things to do. Largs has a Viking festival which attracts hairy people and has LOADS of things to do. Both towns have a thriving live music scene.

What I miss most about Ilkley are the walks. Taking yourself off to the moors or the woods, or just keeping on going out of town, because there is always somewhere else to be in the West Yorkshire Conurbation. Largs is more out of the way, but it does have lovely Millport, and the ferry crossing. Victorian Olicanians built a dancefloor on the moors, and lovely bridges. Victorian Largsians (there must be a better word) built a grave in a field up the glen, and a cairn on the top (there's a cairn on the top of the moor in Ilkley too). Largs has an ancient burial site and Ilkley has a stone circle, but Ikley moor is a much friendlier place to walk than Largs tops, probably because of the wind here and the cold and wet. Here people walk up the hill and come down again. In Ilkley they take a picnic and stay for the day (we used to take cricket stuff too).

 This picture is taken on a wee Victorian walkway that follows the course of the brook which runs down to Ilkley's main road (called Brook Street). 50 yards away from here is the town centre, with shops and cafes and lots of traffic. Largs has the front close to the town centre, but it could do with somewhere more sheltered, like this. I love this place, and I love the similar light up by the lower tarn on the moor which I always pretended was Narnia.

This picture was taken this morning in Largs, and it is also really close to the town centre. Particularly close to Nardinis, in fact, where I was meeting some friends.

That's another thing both towns have in common, nice places to meet with friends.

I do like a town. I sometimes think I would like to be involved in the buzz of a city. I've lived in Leeds and in Edinburgh, and I really enjoyed both (apart from all the stuff getting stolen, Leeds), but I'm content to just visit on weekends for now.

Have you ended up living somewhere like where you grew up? Or do you still stay where you grew up? I can't imagine doing that, I don't think I'd be able to forgive people for stupid things they did at school! I'm glad I've missed all that nonsense in Largs!