Distance Hiker Diaries – Walking the Dales Way in 5 Days

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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 😬.

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! 🫣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??? 🤔🤣

Ale of the day: Swan Blonde from Bowness Brewery

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