Stanza Stones is a collaboration between imove, Ilkley Literature Festival, Simon Armitage and Pennine Prospects.
  • Pule Hill
  • Nab Hill
  • Cows Mouth Quarry
  • Ilkley Moor
  • Rivock Edge
  • Backstone Beck
  • The Stonemason


The Stanza Stones Walk: An Alternative devised by Mick Melvin.
A fifty mile upland walk from Marsden to Ilkley visiting the six Stanza Stones carved with poems written by Simon Armitage.Stanza Stones
Why create an alternative walk?
I have created this walk as an alternative to the 47 mile trail created by the team working with the Ilkley Literature Festival, not because it is my intention to denigrate the walk which was produced by the team. Far from it, the trail which they created is a fine outing and one that will satisfy the desires of most people wishing to visit the Stanza Stones.
My purpose was to devise an upland walk linking the stones which did not stick to recognised footpaths or to existing well-known walking trails. This has not always been possible, since I felt that it was necessary to follow the Pennine way or Millennium Way on occasions, in order to visit significant places of interest i.e. Blackstone Edge.
In addition I believe that considering the walk was motivated by literature, it should visit the places that inspired some of the area’s finest writers, Haworth and Mytholmroyd. My objective is to create six more circular walks to each of the stones which will be suitable for a day’s walking. These walks will be posted on the site as I complete them.
The seven Stanza Stones, each carved with a poem written by the poet Simon Armitage, are at locations which in general follow the Pennine watershed. The Stanza Stones project, which started at Ilkley Festival in August 2010, is focused on poems specially written by Simon stirred by his response to the Pennine Watershed and the relationship between the landscape and language of Yorkshire. The seven stones will form a permanent moorland trail across the watershed from Ilkley to Marsden the home town of the poet. The Stanza Stones poems are reproduced here by kind permission of Simon Armitage.
The sky has delivered its blank missive. The moor in coma. Snow, like water asleep, a coded muteness to baffle all noise, to stall movement, still time.
What can it mean that colourless water can dream such depth of white? We should make the most of the light. Stars snag on its crystal points. The odd, unnatural pheasant struts and slides. Snow, snow, snow is how the snow speaks, is how its clean page reads.
Then it wakes, and thaws, and weeps.
©Simon Armitage 2010

Link to Simon Armitage's Web Site

Nab Hill Oxenhope


Stanza Stones

Who does it mourn? What does it mean, such
nearness, gathering here on high ground
while your back was turned, drawing its
net curtains around? Featureless silver screen, mist
is water in its ghost state, all inwardness,
holding its milky breath, veiling the pulsing machines
of great cities under your feet, walling you
into these moments, into this anti-garden
of gritstone and peat. Given time the edge of
your being will seep into its fibreless fur;
You are lost, adrift in hung water
and blurred air, but you are here.

©Simon Armitage 2010

Simon Armitage at Oxenhope

Ilkley Literature Festival held an event at Nab Hill
on Satuday evening 19th May when Simon read all the poems from "In memory of Water"
To see a video of him reading the Beck Stone poem click the link below.

Simon Armitage at Oxenhope

Blackstone Edge

Stanza Stone

The third Stanza Stone has now been completed at Cow’s Mouth Quarry near Blackstone Edge. The quarry is situated about 20 minutes walk along the track (Pennine Way) which starts at the White House pub. The Pub is on the A58 road between Halifax and Littleborough just beyond Blackstone Edge Reservoir. As you approach the quarry from the White House, watch for a small stone arched bridge spanning the catch water drain on you right about 75 yards before the crags. The path from the bridge affords a close up view of the face carrying the carving. The poem can also be seen from the main path if you continue along the gravelled track. A circular walk can be made if you continue on the track, taking the right turn to White Holme Reservoir returning to Blackstone edge and the White House on a good path over Byron Edge.


Be glad of these freshwater tears,
Each pearled droplet some salty old sea-bullet
Air-lifted out of the waves, then laundered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.
And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,
To take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.
Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.

©Simon Armitage 2010

Ilkley Moor Whetstone Gate

Stanza Stone Ilkley Moor The last Stanza Stone is now in place on Ilkley Moor.


Some May mornings
Atlantic storm-horses
clatter this way,
shedding their iron shoes
in potholes and ruts,
shoes that melt
into steel grey puddles
then settle and set
into cloudless mirrors
by noon.
The shy deer
of the daytime moon
comes to sip from the rim
But the sun
likes the look of itself,
stares all afternoon,
Its hard eye
Lifting the sheen
from the glass,
turning the glaze
to rust.
Then we don’t see things for dust.

©Simon Armitage 2010

Rivock Edge Silsden

Rivock Edge Rivock Edge


The tense stand-off
of summer’s end,
the touchy fuse-wire
of parched grass,
tapers of bulrush and reed,
any tree
a primed mortar of tinder,
one spark enough to trigger
a march on the moor
by ranks of flame.
Dew enters the field
under cover of night,
tending the weary and sapped,

©Simon Armitage 2010

lifting its thimble of drink
to the lips of a leaf,
to the stoats tongue,
trimming a length
of barbed-wire fence
with liquid gems, here
where bog-cotton
flags its surrender
or carries its torch
for the rain.

Then dawn, when sunrise
plants its fire-star
in each drop, ignites
each trembling eye.

The Dew Stones

For a short period the Dew Stones were displayed like an open book just beyond the gate leading into a field. The Stones have now been moved to an upright position within the open gateway.
The position of the stones obstruct the gate way but allow light to pass between them. The stones were made out of one thick block of Scoutmoor gritstone sourced from a quarry in Brighouse. The block was sawn down the middle thus creating two halves which, when stood together give the impression of two mirrors facing each other.

Close up of the Dew Stones

Backstone Beck Ilkley

Backstone Beck

The Beck

It is all one chase.
Trace it back the source
might be nothing more than a teardrop
squeezed from a Curlew’s eye,
then follow it down to the full-throated roar
at its mouth - a dipper strolls the river
dressed for dinner in a white bib.
The unbroken thread of the beck
with its nose for the sea
all flux and flex, soft-soaping a pebble
for thousands of years, or here
after hard rain, sawing the hillside in half
with its chain. Or here, where water unbinds
and hangs at the waterfall’s face, and
just for that one, stretched white moment
becomes lace.

©Simon Armitage 2010

Nick Ferguson the StonemasonPoetry Seat

I am a Professional Member of the Dry Stone Walling Association.
I turned pro in 2007. I work primarily around Leeds & Bradford, although I have walled in Germany as well.
I am based in Bradford. I took up walling when I fell out with corporate life. I wanted to make a more permanent mark on our planet. I am currently training another waif and stray from call centre world who realised it was contributing nothing to him or our environment.
My logo says everything about what I am striving to achieve with my walls: Protecting your property. Preserving our heritage.
Axis Walling is not a hobby outfit. Full time walling & landscaping. CHAS Accredited Contractor, member of Constructionline, £5m Public Liability insurance. Axis is also fully committed to working safely and to recycling everything that our work displaces.
Nick Ferguson

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