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The Dales Way treats you to 80 miles of superb walking, connecting the pretty English towns of Ilkley, Grassington, Kettlewell, Dent, Sedbergh and Bowness-on-Windermere.
The route twists and turns through smaller villages and hamlets as it works its way along the rivers Wharf, Luke and Kent.
In addition to the wonderful places you will stay, and the countryside which you will stroll through, there are some notable highlights along the route, which are not to be missed.
Bolton Abbey on the Dales Way
Bolton Abbey deserves a day in itself to enjoy the surrounding grounds. This popular, and therefore busy tourist attraction is a really interesting spot, once home to a now ruined 12th Century Augustinian Monastery.
Take a walk through the woodlands, and enjoy this wonderful spot in the the Yorkshire Dales.
Dent Head Viaducts
The Dent Viaduct which sits high above the dales way was built between 1869 and 1875 for the Midland Railway Company. The Viaduct was is made from huge blocks of locally quarried marble, and has 10 arches, and is 100ft high and 199 yards long. The Viaduct is one of 20 on the Settle to Carlisle railway line. It simply nests into the surrounding countryside beautifully.
The construction of the Settle to Carlisle railway took over 6 years to construct by the Midland Railway Company and is one of the longest Conservation areas in the UK.
Burnsall Bridge & Village
Keeping with the theme of bridges on the Dales Way, Burnsall Bridge is a lovely gateway into the village of Burnsall, which is between Grassington and Appletreewick.
Burnsall is simply pretty, sat alongside the River Wharfe. The village is a perfect sanctuary for tired feet and an excellent way to recover from a hard days walking.
Grassington Folk Museum
While you are passing, or staying in Grassington its worth dropping into the locally run Grassington Folk Museum, full of reminders from ‘yesteryear’. Exhibits include lead mining, minerals, craft tools, faming history, costumes, and WWII memorabilia.
In addition to browsing around the coffee shops, and vast array of outdoor shops, designed to tempt you into making your next gear purchase, Keswick also boasts a number of micro-attractions.
For example, drop into the Keswick Pencil Museum – honestly, more interesting an experience than you would expect! The visit the Keswick Museum to learn about the local history. Don’t miss Puzzing Places which promises to stretch your reality, just a little. Finally, walk down to Crow Park, which sits on the edge of Derwent Water – making a spectacular lunch spot with views over the lake.
How to get to and from the Dales Way
The majority of long distance walks start and end in major towns and cities with good links to public transport, and in many cases train or airport access.
The Dales Way is certainly no exception, with good access at the start in Ilkley, and Bowness on Windermere at the end of the route, with some accessible towns along the way should you need to bail on route.
Getting to the start of the Route in Ilkley
The market town of Ilkley is accessible from Leeds and Manchester.
Leeds is a 34 minute train ride away, and has airport access to a number of main european and UK destination.
If you are traveling from Manchester to Ilkley you will need to travel via Leeds, making the journey approximately an hour and a half. Tickets can be booked via Trainline.
Leeds also connects with the most major cities in the UK via train or air, making travel to the start of the route relatively easily.
Departing from Bowness on Solway
Bowness on Windermere has good access to the cities of Liverpool and Manchester, which has an international Airport. If you are heading further up North, Carlisle is an hour and a half away via train, which is then a good destination for onward travel to Newcastle, and onward travel to Edinburgh.
If you wish to make use of private hire taxis, we have some recommendations:
Lakeside Taxis – 015394 88888
Ace Taxi Windermere – 015394 45445
Merecab – 07985 100473
Ilkley Taxis 24/7 – 01943 601110
AJD Private Hire of Ilkley – 07428 610601
The Dales Way Packing List
This packing list is designed to cover the daypack essentials for walkers like yourself who are walking the Dales Way with luggage / baggage transfer.
The UK has temperamental weather made up of rain, rain and more rain. Just ask the locals. So, when you’re packing for the Dales Way make sure to check the forecast ahead of your visit and pack for the worst weather.
Picking the correct rucksack
Choosing a decent rucksack is essential for any long distance walk. Make sure you don’t go for a budget offering which may hold up for your first few long distance walks, but will eventually fail (usually on the zip) after a short while. Usually when you least want it to!
Walking Boots or Shoes
An increasing number of hikers are opting for walking trainers instead of walking boots. Regardless of your preference, make sure to pack a sturdy pair of walking boots or shoes.
Waterproof lined shoes are helpful, especially in wet weather, with a sturdy sole. Also, don’t forget to wear them in if they are a new pair!
A good set of waterproof trousers, and of course a jacket is essential for your long distance walk on the Dales Way.
Like most other kit, the waterproof / shell you pick is really down to personal preference. Some people like heavy GoreTex shells, while others prefer lightweight fabrics.
My personal preference is to pick something in-between, for example a Gore Packlite, or a 2.5 layer Pertex shell which offers enough protection for Spring/Summer/Autumn is a great choice. It packs small enough to be easily carried, and doesn’t feel so flimsy that it will leak in the lightest shower.
Gaiters are really down to personal choice, but for this particular walk, with some walking in areas which are prone to being water logged, I suggest gaiters. A lightweight pair will suffice.
Baselayers & Midlayers
Baselayers and Midlayers are without saying.
Simply pick lightweight, comfortable baselayers. Please please please don’t use a lightweight down layer as a baselayer – they simply are not designed to be used in this way.
Instead pick breathable fleeces – microgrid technology is great, especially when paired with a good baselayer.
First Aid Kit
There are some remote sections on this trail. Like it or not, someone in your party will probably get a blister, cut or graze at some point. Your Dales Way Packing List first aid bag should also include regular plasters, antiseptic cream, bandages, pain killers, splints, slings and of course, sunscreen. Outdoor shops sell packs with everything included.
Maps and Guidebooks
Despite being a well-marked trail it’s always best to carry a guidebook, map and compass in case you get stuck.
Nutrition & Hydration
Your Dales Way packing list should include a couple of essentials when it comes to nutrition; weight and shelf life.
Dried fruit, nuts, jellybabies, flapjacks and any essentials you find on the way will do. Keep your tummy full and eating little and often is helpful.
Make sure to pack a good quality bladder or bottles which won’t leak along with some hydration pouches for hot and hard days.
Lets put it in a list
- 1x Bag
- 1x Raincoat (2.5 layer shell 😉)
- Waterproof trousers
- Baselayer and spares unless you like to pong
- Lightweight walking trousers
- Antibacterial undies
- Wool socks (merino wool socks are great)
- Sports bra for ladies
- Well broken in shoes or boots
- Evening shoes. I recommend crocs as they are lightweight, and versatile
- Evening wear
- Camera – don’t just rely on your phone. Keep that junk in your bag so your not tempted to check your emails while walking!
- Gloves & hat – lightweight for spring/summer/autumn
- Lunch box
- Water bottles or bladder if possible
- First aid kit with blister packs or foot tape
- Tissues or baby wipes
- Music player
- Drybags for packing your kit in your bag
The Dales Way isn’t the longest route, and there are exit points in the instance that you are short on light and ill-prepared. However a good quality supply of kit will aid you in most instances. Make sure not to skimp on technical essentials (bag, waterproofs, headtorch etc) and to carefully plan out your bag so you know where everything is.
Dales Way Walking Holidays
Perhaps you are planning a long distance walk on the Dales Way but rather than wanting to book the walk yourself (using our wonderful resources available), you would like some help with your bookings.
If you have Googled ‘Dales Way Walking Holidays’ you may find yourself struggling to compare prices as there are rather a lot of businesses offering walking tours on the route.
Now its safe to say, save from a few companies, most business offering walking tours tend to have a similar offering. This includes:
- Accommodation, usually of the 3-4 star variety close to the trail
- Luggage Transfer for as many walkers
- Maps/Guides/Trail info
- Some will also include transfers to/from the accommodations
Self-guided walking holidays
In this guide, we look at ‘Self Guided’ or ‘Self Led’ walking holidays rather than guided tours. The reason we focus on these tours, is that guided tours tend to be very niche for long distance trails in the UK. Of course, guided walking holidays are available, but for the purpose of consistency, all the walking holidays listed below are self-guided.
A note on tour operators
Each of the tour operators listed in this article are exactly that – tour operators. It’s more important than ever that your hard earned money is well protected.
Therefore each of the tour operators listed below are compliant with The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.
We do recommend that you take out travel insurance. Please note, we do not announce our best pick at the bottom of the article – rather we present the necessary information to you which will help you to make an informed decision.
Without further ado. Our Top Picks
Without further delay. Our Dales Way Walking Holiday Picks, comparing a 6 day itinerary. 7 Day Itinerary.