With an Alternate End
The Dales High Way is an 89-mile thru-hike running from Saltaire near Leeds and heading North up to Appleby-in-Westmorland covering over 12,200 feet of ascent. The trail covers beautiful moorland that has beautiful stone age rock art, leading into the Yorkshire Dales proper and covering the beautiful limestone landscape around Malham. The trail then heads up the awe-inspiring Ingleborough mountain before dropping down and heading across a beautiful ridge along the back of Whernside before descending into a beautiful valley and back up again into the Howgill Fells. The trail then heads across farm and moorland towards Appleby via the Eden valley.
I chose an alternate route where the trail meets the Coast to Coast near Newbiggin on Lune and headed East through the Eden valley and into Kirkby Stephen.
I started my journey in Saltaire with the sun shining for about 3 minutes. The skies decided to open before I left the beautiful canal path, so I spent much of the day wrapped up in my gore-tex to keep dry. The trail really came into its own within a couple of miles and I ascended into the Ilkley moors where there is beautiful stone age artwork dotted about. The trail drops down from the moors and skirts Ilkley following a beautiful ridgeline that gives stunning views across valleys.
The next section drops down towards Addingham before ascending into some fantastically remote moorlands and heading down into Skipton where I scored a little bit of warm food and a drink. The rain was still lashing it down at this point and I decided to change my socks, rub some Vaseline in and head out back into the moors. I ascended Sharp Haw and skirted the edge of Rough Haw before heading back down into the more populated area of Hetton (I say populated, it’s just a few houses). The next section took me past Winterburn reservoir which I noticed had a very low water level before starting the long walk up to Weets Top (414m). Once I had finished my ascent, I headed back down into the beautiful limestone valleys that surround Malham and Gordale. I decided to spend the night at the campsite at the foot of Gordale scar, which was so beautiful when I woke up.
I woke up aching quite badly and noticed a few niggles in my right foot, which I hoped would ease up once I got going. I took a little wander down to Gordale scar and snapped a few shots, before packing up my gear having a quick wash in the river, and heading up to the top of the mighty Malham Cove. A bit of trivia for Gordale and Malham here: They were formed during the last glacial period when the ice sheets were melting. This happened as small rivers created channels through the limestone that lead into huge bodies of water cutting their way through the rocks until finally what was left was the likes of Gordale scar and Malham cove.
I sat atop the cove and had some breakfast whilst looking out into the beautiful day ahead. A truly magical place that should be on the bucket list to visit.
I cracked on and followed the trail across the beautifully scarred limestone hills and noticed my first glimpse of Ingleborough looming in the distance and still a good 20 miles away. I remember thinking to myself I’ll be hitting that at some point in the early evening when I’m tired out.
Next was the descent into Settle where I met a lovely lady who shared a cup of tea with me and chatted about hiking and our mutual obsession with hoarding gear.
I soon left Settle and found myself following the River Ribble before ascending the hills once more and heading over to Feizor where I scored some water, a couple of drinks, and a few snacks.
I then began the slow ascent of Ingleborough which I noted as being about 11 miles from this point and was a never-ending upwards slog. I had beautiful views of the mountain and spent a few minutes chatting to people on the Yorkshire 3 peaks as I was going up.
Once at the top I admired the views for miles around and thought about pitching at the top. Alas, it was a little too busy, so I dropped down towards Chapel Le Dale and spent the night at the campsite near the foot of Whernside. Even managed a hot shower!
I had crushed around 50 miles by this point and the constant up and down of the dales had taken its toll on my right foot. I set off nice and early and scored some beautiful photos of Ribblehead viaduct, which is another must-see especially in the early morning due and mist. It was so beautiful.
I then headed up over the Back of Whernside and skirted a ridge for a few miles before dropping down towards Dent, the hills never rest in the Dales though and I soon found myself heading back up into the beautiful Moorland over Sedbergh.
I dropped down into Sedbergh where I decided my foot was in a bad way and I needed to rest it for a week or two before pushing on. I managed a lift home at this point and promised to head back out and complete it as soon as I was able.
End of Part 1!
It turns out I had done a little bit of damage to my ligaments at the section of my foot where it meets your shin and controls flexibility. I soon found that part of my foot really inflamed and bruised. It took a couple of weeks before I could fully walk on it again and a friend gave me some advice on exercises to strengthen the area.
Part 2 – Day 4
I traveled back out to Ribblehead via car and left it at the viaduct before retracing my steps towards Sedbergh, it was around half 6 I set off and soon found myself exhausted by around 11 pm when I managed to get back to Sedbergh. I had covered around 15 miles by this point in such a short time.
I began my ascent of the Howgill fells in total darkness and soon found myself exhausted as they are a tough old climb up. I decided to pitch upon a relatively flat spot about 500m up and spent the night there.
I woke up to some amazing views across the fells and could feel how remote they were, I packed up and headed North following the beautiful hills. I summited the Calf early in the morning and spent some time admiring the beauty of the landscape before carrying on towards Hazelgill Knot and West Fell.
I dropped down towards Newbiggin on Lune where I had some lunch and made the choice to switch up the route and follow the Coast-to-Coast route instead of heading to Appleby-in-Westomorland.
I followed the C2C route East and through the beautiful Eden valley area summiting a few hills along the way. Eventually, I arrived at my alternate finishing point of Kirkby Stephen where I scored some food and made my journey to the train station where the skies opened once more.
I hope you enjoyed the read and hope it has inspired people to do this amazing trail that has quickly become one of my favorites to date.