The Dales Way is a long distance footpath of about 80 miles (128 km) situated in the north of England and running from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere.
By following as far as possible riverside paths, it offers a scenically attractive route from urban West Yorkshire to the Lake District, which any reasonably fit family can undertake in a week's holiday. Although not always well served by public transport the Way, by following natural and sometimes ancient lines of communication, passes through many villages, and so accommodation is not a problem, although it is advisable to book in advance.
The Dales Way Association was established in 1991 to help support, maintain and promote the Dales Way Long Distance path.
There have been concerns that new access charges to the Bolton Abbey Estate might affect walkers on the Dales Way.
This is not the case. We have heard of no problems from walkers following the Dales Way all the way through the Bolton Abbey Estate from Bolton Bridge in the south to Barden Bridge in the north, or visa-versa.
The Estate have made clear that the access charges DO NOT APPLY to "Visitors walking through the Estate via the Dalesway long distance footpath either north or south".
Problems have arisen when walkers have tried to access the Dales Way footpath from other parts of the Estate, such as the "hole in the wall" near the Cavendish Memorial. This has been a particular problem for walkers turning up on the bus to walk part of the Dales Way.
The Estate have made the charges to access in order to control numbers during the current Coivd-19 pandemic. The estate management have put up notice boards at the Bolton Bridge and Barden Bridge access points which spell out the current situation.
The notices read:
"Visitor Access following application of Covid-19 protection measures
Following the re-opening of the Estate, its priority has been the safety of its visitors, staff and the communities which it serves.
To ensure government guidelines are met, be they social distancing or track and trace, all visitors entering the Estate whether in a car or on foot are now asked to purchase a pre-booked ticket.
There are the following exceptions:
1. Visitors entering north on the Public Rights of Way (PRoWs) from Bolton bridge to the Priory Bridge (both sides of the river Wharfe).
2. Visitors walking the PRoW from Priory North Gate through the Priory Church graveyard and downstream to Bolton Bridge (both banks) and or east to Storiths via the Bridleway.
3. Users of the Bridleway from Storiths to the Priory bridge and return.
4. Visitors walking through the Estate via the Dalesway long distance footpath either north or south, return excluded within 24 hours.
Checks will periodically be made, reviewing users following the permissive paths coming downstream from Barden Bridge, west from the Storiths Road and upstream from Bolton Bridge."
The problem has arisen because the Dales Way makes use of some Permissive paths through the estate, which are not Rights of Way, but which can be followed by Dales Way walkers under the terms of agreement for those particular paths.
This situation is likely to continue at least until all government restrictions are finally lifted, which will be at the end of June at the earliest. We will have to wait and see what happens after that.
If you are planning to walk the Dales Way this year, please don't let this situation put you off. This is one of the most beautiful and iconic sections of the Dales Way. It is also one of the most popular.