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Dales Way

13th-21st August 2007

The Dales Way starts in the Yorkshire town of Ilkley, heads up Wharfedale then over the moors and down Dentdale, before passing into Cumbria to end at Bowness in Windermere.
Although you climb to 520 metres (1705 feet) at Cam High Road (in passing from Wharfedale to Dentdale) and pass close to the famous three peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent as well as the fells of the Lake District, The Dales Way doesn't have the 'roller coaster' ascents and descents of some of the other long distance paths. The 78 miles of walking is mostly gentle, following attractive river valleys and passing through pretty towns and villages.

Richard, Helen and I decided to walk the Dales Way in August 2007, then Helen (in the summer break between her first and second year at Cambridge) decided that 78 miles was not sufficient.
So she joined us in Ilkley having walked, with her boyfriend Tom, the Cleveland Way from Filey Brigg to Helmsley (we walked it in the more usual direction - Helmsley to Filey Brigg - in 2008), then the Ebor Way from Helmsley to Ilkley via York. Tom, very sensibly, went home at this point; Helen is a glutton for punishment so continued with us to Windermere.

Our personal memories of the Dales Way include the distinctly wet weather;
I had foolishly decided to take my light-weight walking boots and ended up with soggy feet every day apart from the last one.

However, the generally inclement weather made occasional glimpses of the sun even more memorable, especially for the walk down into Kettlewell and the scarecrow festival there, and the glorious sunset over Lake Windermere on our final evening.
And we enjoyed the warmth (and dryness!) of the welcome we were given by various B&Bs, pubs and cafes.

Our baggage was transported from place to place by Sherpa Van. We also used the Sherpa Van accommodation booking service (the first time we hadn't used a company like Contours or Discovery Travel). Sherpa Van were extremely helpful and all of our accommodation was fine, but the Sportsman's Inn in Cowgill (which we later learnt was probably best avoided in any case) initially accepted our booking then decided, whilst we were in Australia, that they had miscounted their rooms and couldn't put us up. We are just slightly suspicious that this might have had something to do with a booking for 7 Canadian walkers from Contours. There are undoubtedly some benefits in booking via a company whose custom the B&Bs want to keep, though we got friendly with the Canadians towards the end of the walk and discovered that some of our accommodation had been better then their's.

I only realised when writing these webpages that the Dales Way isn't a National Trail - it should be; it's a lovely walk.
The signposting is good throughout and we used the Cicerone Guide to the Dales Way (written by Terry Marsh) plus appropriate Ordnance Survey 1: 25000 maps (most of the walk is on Explorer Map OL2: Yorkshire Dales Southern and Western areas).

Richard and I had a straightforward journey to the start of the path in Ilkley, by train via Ely, Grantham and Leeds to Ilkley,
then on foot to the Dalesway Hotel. Helen and Tom arrived shortly after us and we had a pleasant meal at 'Escape'. then a walk by the river, with excellent views back to Ilkley Moor. The journey home from Windermere was rather more complicated, courtesy of a cancelled train from Manchester to Ely, so we ended up changing at Oxenholme, Warrington, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Doncaster, Peterborough and Ely. However we caught the same train from Ely to Downham Market that we'd been planning to catch all day.

First day's walking on the Dales Way
For more photographs of our walk along the Dales Way click here.

Dales Way