Open when the flag is flying
Ilkley Moor, Wells Road, Ilkley, LS29 9RF
White Wells Spa Cottage
There has been bathing at White Wells since 1703 when there was a bath to the rear of the premises. This was replaced in 1791 by two baths, one of which is on display today. Although the water has no significant mineral content it is the coldness of the water which stimulates the circulation.
White Wells was instrumental in establishing Ilkley as a spa town. A number of large hydros were built in the Ilkley area during the 19th century where people could come to “take the waters”, believing all manner of aliments could be cured. Charles Darwin visited Ilkley in 1859 and is believed to have “taken the waters” at White Wells.
Modern day visitors can still use the plunge bath. New Year’s Day is the most popular day for this activity, with usually over a hundred plungers throughout the day. However, providing it is quiet enough in the cafe we can usually open the bath gate should visitors wish to plunge at other times of the year too. Plungers must supply their own bathing costumes and towels and the activity is undertaken at the plunger’s own risk! There is no charge for plunging, but bathers can buy a certificate to mark the occasion, throw some loose change into the bath and of course support the cafe by buying hot drinks and snacks afterwards.