Distance Hiker Diaries – Walking the Dales Way in 5 Days

Tracy and Martin, two members of our community, recently shared a day-by-day account of their Dales Way walk.

They chose to walk the Dales Way, enjoying the finer things in life as they went – B&B’s, Pie and Beer, including the beer of the day after each overnight stop.

Thank you Tracy for allowing us to repost your Dales Way, in 5 days long distance walk!

Day 1. Ilkley to Grassington – 17.5 miles

Woke up in our room overlooking the River Wharfe and we kept the same river in view for 17 miles. Seas of bluebells and carpets of wild garlic led us up to Bolton abbey where we treated ourselves to a brew and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

Then onwards through pretty woodland and farmland with the few cows that we encountered being very well behaved.

Most people stop at Burnsall on the first day but we just stopped for a pint before cracking on to Darrowby. Staying in the very nice Black horse hotel but no sign of James, Tristan or Siegfreid.

Ale of the day: Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Dark

Day 2. Grassington to Hubberholme. 12.5 miles

The black horse at Grassington will take some beating in the best accommodation of our adventure competition. Great room, fantastic food, friendly staff and I always get excited when I’m offered something other than a fried breakfast. Today it was pancakes with local honey and a right big banana. We woke to the rain hammering at the window but by the time we’d collected some provisions from the bakery, it’d fined up and we headed up the village to the fields above the Dales Dairy.

I had put my big girl pants on and made a decision that the bovines aren’t going to bother me on this adventure. Martin assures me that all the cows are friendly around here anyway ūüė¨.

We were soon high above the valley in limestone country before dropping down into Kettlewell through a series of stiles that the guide book described as like the 110m hurdles with just sheep for spectators.

We thought that we’d better have a mug of Yorkshire tea in a village with this name, before returning to our friend the river Wharfe and following it down the valley. A detour to investigate a 400-year-old pub just off the trail then onwards along the river bank.

When the heavens opened, we thought it “sensible” to shelter in the next pub, the Buck at Buckden. Here the landlady offered to give us a lift to our B&B if “the weather got stupid”.

Luckily after 3 pints, the sun was shining again and we trotted on to the hamlet of Hubberholme, which consists of a church, a farm and an amazing pub.

Ale of the day: Respire by the Black Sheep Brewery

Day 3. Hubberholme to Dent – 21 miles

I awoke this morning still full from the award-winning pie that I’d had for my tea in the George the night before, which wasn’t good seeing as the lady from the B&B was busy preparing another full English breakfast for us downstairs.

Opened the curtains to see a woodpecker on the bird feeder outside our window to my great excitement. After breakfast, Gillian sent us on our way with our packed lunch, following the Wharfe again until it became a trickle and we left it behind to head up over boggy land to join the Pennine Way and the highest point of the Trail.

The wind had been getting stronger all morning and as the mighty Ingleborough came into view, it really picked up. Soon Ingleborough had its friends alongside, Pen Y Ghent and Whernside, with the majestic Ribblehead viaduct between them.

No photos of this as by now my hands were so cold that they were gripping my walking poles like crab’s claws and I was seriously regretting my decision to wear shorts. We found an old barn to shelter behind for lunch. It smelt of wee but we were grateful for any break from that wind and quickly donned every item of clothing in our rucksacks, once Martin had managed to prise the walking poles from my frozen hands.

After lunch, we took a wrong turn but luckily a friendly farmer arrived to point us back in the right direction after only a few minutes of shouting at each other in the middle of a field. We descended into Dentdale but still had another 8 miles to go before we staggered into Dent itself, more than ready to get the rucksacks off our backs, the boots off our feet, and between me and you, that’s far too long to be strapped into a sports bra!

It’s felt like a long day, but there are two cracking pubs in Dent and there’s a bath in our room, so I’m sure I’ll wake up fully refreshed tomorrow, ready to face another 20 miler!

Ale of the day: T’owd Tup from Dent Brewery (6% and we need it to numb the aches!)

Day 4 – Dent to Burneside – 20.5 miles

The last time I was in Dent it rained so hard that it washed the coat right off my old basset hound’s back. Today it was just a light drizzle as we left the cobbled streets behind to more river side walking along the Dee, the Rawthey then the Lune, through the outskirts of Sedbergh.

Shortly after my Garmin told me that I’d walked 13km on Friday the 13th, I felt a bit of a sore heel. I applied the compeed and Martin administered a chocolate chip cookie and on we went.

We left the Yorkshire dales behind and saw the first Herdwick sheep instead of Swaledale, under the shadow of the Howgill fells.

After lunch we soon saw the M6, carrying its convoy of Home Bargain trucks. We crossed this, followed by the West Coast mainline and the A6.

One minor bovine incident was when a herd of cows came charging down a field towards us. Luckily they wanted a drink from the stream, not to trample us into the ground with their hooves as I’d first thought!

The last few miles felt like a never-ending trudge through endless fields, with my ankles screaming that 2 days of 20 miles plus was a stupid idea.

Thankfully tomorrow is a shorter day to the finish line in Bowness and tonight we have the pleasure of the jolly anglers. 3 beers brewed less than a mile away and I’ve got a seat next to a baby whippet.

Ale of the day: Handsome Hound (obviously named after Nancy!)

Day 5 – Burneside to Bowness. 9.5 miles

After perhaps the deepest sleep in my life and another full English breakfast, we set off on our final day.

It began with another section of beautiful Riverside paths beside the crystal clear river Kent, accompanied by the biggest herons I have seen in my life.

We then passed into the Lake District National Park and unsurprisingly, it got a bit lumpier.

For the final few miles, we were overtaken by ultra runners competing in The Lap which put our achievements into perspective. “We’ve walked 81 miles in 5 days!”, “Yeah, well done, I’m doing 47 miles today!”. But we told the volunteers at the feeding station that we’d walked from Ilkley and got a cheer along with the runners.

There’s some dispute about the official end of the Dales Way – the bench, the pub, or the lake. So we sat on the bench, had a pint in the pub, and as for the lake,

I’ll be dipping more than a toe in that in a few week’s time! ūüę£The Dales Way is said to be one of the easiest of the more established trails but we’ve had some long days due to difficulties with accommodation and it certainly isn’t flat.

It’s a beautiful part of the world and we will certainly be back with the dogs to explore it more.

So that’s it, job done. But wait, there’s a bus to Ulverston. We don’t need to be back at work for another week. Doesn’t the Cumbria way start in Ulverston??? ūü§Ēūü§£

Ale of the day: Swan Blonde from Bowness Brewery

Craiglands B&B

We are blessed with a range of excellent places to eat but It is essential to pre-book evening meals, particularly since Covid.


In the main square and 10 minutes walk from our B&B, you will find:
The Black Horse, Grassington (our favorite for pub grub, atmosphere, and attention to COVID guidelines)
Grassington House, Grassington (for something special is truly stunning)
Forrester’s Arms, Grassington (pub grub)
Devonshire Arms, Grassington (pub grub, gets VERY busy)
The Old Hall, Threshfield is the closest to us
The Fountaine Inn, Linton (stunning setting + great food) – (1-mile steady amble over the fields)

How Long Does It Take to Walk the Dales Way

How Long Does It Take To Walk The Dales Way

The Dales Way is an rather remarkable 80 mile long distance trail which stretches from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, to Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria.

The route was originally devised by the West Ridings Rambler’s Association, and made public in 1968, with the first crossing made by a group from Bradford Gramma School Venture Scouts in 1969.

Since, it has only grown in popularity with several thousand walkers taking on the trail each year and growing.

So, you are here because you are considering walking the route, be it by camping, or staying in nice places along the way.

But you would like to know how long does it take to walk the Dales Way?

Well, it really depends

The route can be completed within just a couple of days, 4 if you wish. Quicker for those who want an ultra-run but for our mere humans, it can take up to 7-9 days.

If you are looking for a challenge walk which suits most walkers I suggest taking about 6 days to tackle the path, averaging 13 miles per day, which sure feels like a challenge when your taking on that distance for 6 consecutive days of walking.

However for a relaxed stroll, at least for most, an 9 day itinerary is ideal. At 10-11 miles per day, on average you should have ample time to enjoy the forts, museums and highlights along the trail.

Moreover, stretching the days like this allow you to make early starts, for an early finish. Some accommodations along the route are particularly suited for relaxing overnight stops and Carlisle is well worth an afternoon of your time.

Which ever itinerary you choose, make sure too not feel like you need to rush. Here at Distance Hiker, we advocate slow travel, and taking your time on the trail, to enjoy

The #1 Guide To The Dales Way Baggage Transfer

The #1 Guide To The Dales Way Baggage Transfer

The Dales Way Baggage Transfer article we have put together below is aimed at helping you choose between the various business who offer their services on The Dales Way.

Many popular long distance trails in the United Kingdom are now supported with Baggage transfer, which opens the trails up to individuals of all abilities, rather than hardened backpackers or lightpackers.

With any of our articles, we encourage you to contact the companies we suggest to see which works for you.

Ok, here we go!

Sherpa Van

Sherpa Van offer baggage transfer services across a vast portifilio of long distance trails, either as part of their excellent accommodation booking services, or as a stand-alone service.

Their baggage transfer can be booked online but does require some tedious inputting of details in order to share your accommodation information for each day of bag movements required. However you have the assurances of booking with a well regarded business who employ local drivers to move your bags.

The terms of their Dales Way Baggage Transfer are as follows:

  • ¬£9.45 per bag per movement
  • A minimum of ¬£25 per booking
  • A minimum 1 bag for walks duration with a maximum of 20 kg per bag
  • A ¬£25 non-refundable deposit is payable at checkout
  • If you only need 1 – 2 moves please contact the office for pricing

Brigantes

Brigantes offer a pretty spactacuar selection of long distance walks, and cycling holidays, all supported with their own in house baggage transfer option. For a one-stop-shop for all your walking holiday bookings, Brigantes are a pretty good place to look.

In addtion to walking holidays, Brigantes also offer luggage transfer. They also offer bespoke baggage transfer for routes within the areas they operate, but on walks which may not be listed. All you need to do is contact them for a quote.

The terms of their Dales Way Baggage Transfer are as follows:

  • Prices from ¬£9.45 per person per day (minimum of 2 persons)
  • Max 17kg per bag
  • Collection from accommodation is from 9.30

Trail Magic Baggage

Trail magic baggage offer bag movements on all routes in the North of the UK – Draw a line from the Peak District, up to the Scottish Boarder – yep, its that compehsnvie a service.

Booking is done through their booking and form, and regardless of your route, they will book for you. Each driver is part of the Trail Magic Baggage franchise, so is a self-employed small business owner – this means they really care about giving you a good service and looking after your kit.

  • Prices from ¬£9.00 per bag up to 40 miles per day
  • 24 hours notice is required
  • 24kg weight limit applies per bag

Walking the Dales Way 7 Days

Walking The Dales Way 7 Days

Welcome! You are in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park experiencing one of the most spectacular English highland landscapes. The Dales is steepled in tradition, excellent views, and some relatively untouched countryside. Enjoy the gentle undulating hills, limestone dales, ancient woodland, and waterfalls. The Dales are also home to several interesting, and undisputibly beautiful towns, villages and hamlets. 

Gently meandering through the dales is a 78 mile route, which starts at Ilkley, and finishes in the Lake District National Park, on the shores of Lake Windermere. 

To help you enjoy this wonderful route, we have put together this Dales Way 7 day itinerary for you to self-book your walking holiday. Click any of the overnight stops below to quickly scroll down to that section on the page. 

The accommodation on this page have been hand picked, and checked on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and via Google Reviews to ensure they are of an acceptable quality. Most can be booked direct, online either via booking.com, or through their own website. We have also added some super handy distances from the trail so you know how far you have to travel each day to start walking.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Please note, some of the accommodation options below include an affiliate link. If you book through these links Distance Hiker will receive a small percentage of the total price. This allows us to keep producing excellent resources to help you book your trail. Thanks, Matthew.

The Itinerary

Arrive in Ilkley for your first night stay

Day 1: Walk From Ilkley To Grassington – 19km

Day 2: Walk from Grassington to Hubberholme – 19km

Day 3: Walk from Hubberholme to Ribblehead – 19km

Day 4: Walk from Ribblehead to Dent – 16km

Day 5: Walk from Dent to Howgill – 16km

Day 6: Walk from Howgill to Burneside – 21km

Day 7: Walk from Burneside to Bowness on Windermere – 21km

Depart from Bowness on Windermere after breakfast

Arrive in Ilkley for your first night stay

The Black Hat

Rooms from £75.00 per night

The Gin Lounge & Rooms

Rooms from £118.00 per night

Ilkley Riverside Hotel

Rooms from £85.00 per night

Day 1: Walk From Ilkley To Grassington - 19km‚Äč

Clarendon Hotel

Rooms from £90.00 per night

Grassington Bunk Barn

Rooms from £26.00 per night

The Old Hall Inn

Rooms from £85.00 per night

Grassington House

Rooms from £135.00 per night

Station House B&B

Rooms from £70.00 per night

Craiglands B&B

Rooms from £50.00 per night

Day 2: Walk from Grassington to Hubberholme - 19km

The George Inn

Rooms from £90.00 per night

The Buck Inn

Rooms from £80.00 per night

Redmire Farm B&B

Rooms from £80.00 per night

The White Lion Inn

Rooms from £105.00per night

Day 3: Walk from Hubberholme to Ribblehead - 19km

Shepherds Cottage Luxury B&B

Rooms from £75.00 per night

The Station Inn

Rooms from £85.00 per night

Ashes Farm Bed & Breakfast

Rooms from £70.00per night

Day 4: Walk from Ribblehead to Dent - 16km

The Old Craft Barn

Rooms from £95.00 per night

Day 5: Walk from Dent to Howgill - 16km

The Black Bull

Rooms from £125.00per night

Daleslea Bed and Breakfast

Rooms from £95.00per night

Daleslea Bed and Breakfast

Rooms from £95.00per night

Day 6: Walk from Howgill to Burneside - 21km

Hollin Root Farm

Rooms from £76.00per night

Country Hotel

Rooms from £95.00per night

Shakespeare Inn

Rooms from £95.00per night

Day 7: Walk from Burneside to Bowness on Windermere - 21km

Bowness Guest House

Rooms from £85.00per night

Beechwood Hotel

Rooms from £92.00 per night

Oakfold House

Rooms from £86.00 per night

Depart from Bowness on Windermere after breakfast

We hope you found the accommodation options above helpful, and have managed to successfully book your trail. If not, don’t worry, we offer a handy booking service which you can access by hitting the link below. If you have any more questions related to the Cotswold Way, we have you covered in the articles below. Browse at your own pace, and should you have any specific questions feel free to jump onto live chat, or search our database of articles:

The 10 Best Highlights of the Dales Way

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.

The Dales Way Burnsall

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.

Keswick

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

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.

Taxis

If you wish to make use of private hire taxis, we have some recommendations:

Bowness-on-Windermere

Lakeside Taxis – 015394 88888

Ace Taxi Windermere – 015394 45445

Merecab – 07985 100473

Ilkley

Ilkley Taxis 24/7 – 01943 601110

AJD Private Hire of Ilkley – 07428 610601

The Ultimate Dales Way Packing List

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.

Dales Way Packing List

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!

Waterproofs

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

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 ūüėČ)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Baselayer and spares unless you like to pong
  • Lightweight walking trousers
  • Gaiters
  • 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
  • Suncream
  • First aid kit with blister packs or foot tape
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Map
  • Tissues or baby wipes
  • Music player
  • Headtorch
  • Drybags for packing your kit in your bag

Final words

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.

Walking Tours on the Dales Way

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 Рrather 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.