What a most amazing and joyful experience this has been. The challenge, the people, the landscape—all were more than expected. And to share it with my best friend (who is obviously insane for signing up for this) will forever be one of the highlights of my life.
50 Years of the DALES WAY - The peoples' stories
In 2013 I retired as a Lake District National Park ranger, after 24 years’ service. So, what next? I know, I’ll offer B&B for walkers on the Dales Way!
However, I soon realised that income and cooking breakfasts was the least important aspect of providing accommodation. Never, in a million years, did I realise just how much our walkers would inspire me. In fact, it is quite humbling at times. As one Dutch lady commented, ’you don’t have to travel the world, the world comes to you!’
Walkers embark on the Dales Way for a variety of reasons. One aspect that is apparent, right from the outset; it means a great deal to walk this iconic route. Some walk to remember, some to forget. Others to recuperate. For everyone, it is a challenge, in one way or another. Of course, it’s recreation, but for many it is a chance for re-creation, away from this frenetic, urbanised world of ours.
Tony Hill, The Lakeland Hills, Burneside
The Dales Way was our first long-distance walk in 2006. We were warned by fellow walkers we met over a stile near Buckden "long distance walking is addictive!”
It certainly has been; 12 long distance walks later around England and Scotland we have a wealth of memories of fun, wet weather, stunning scenery and unforgettable experiences Thank you Dales Way!
Kath Doyle and Gordon Tasker
In 2014 I was invited to take part in in the BBC radio 4 Ramblings with Claire Balding series. Claire was walking the entire length of the ‘Dales Way’ footpath in stages with invited guests. The section I walked with Claire was from the Cavendish Pavilion, Bolton Abbey to Burnsall. The weather was atrocious with strong winds and heavy showers however this did not dampen our spirts and was a wonderful opportunity to promote the work the YDNPA does to look after this important route as it meanders through the Dales.
Phil Richards, Area Ranger Wharfedale & Littondale, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
We walked the route in six days through mud, wind rain, and sun and loved every minute of it. We detoured over the tops to get beautiful views of Dentdale. On the penultimate day, we got lost in woods and arrived late and tired into Burneside. The final day was sunny and warm and had great views approaching the Lake District. We celebrated by having two ice creams.
Jolyon and Vivienne West, 1998
We moved into The George and opened for business on 1 June 2013. It had always been an ambition to own a pub and after some searching The George became the focus of our attention. We loved it from the start. The location of the pub in beautiful Langstrothdale on the Dales Way, the quirky nature of the building and the tremendous history of the place were just too good to be true.
The George has gone from strength to strength, attracting visitors from various places across the world. Last year about a 1,000 of the guests at The George were Dales Way walkers, bravely undertaking the 82 (or so) miles from Ilkely to Bowness on Windermere, originating from many countries including Australia, Canada, USA, Netherlands, Israel, Germany, Norway and many more. We love having the Dales Way walkers to stay, sharing their stories with other guests and very often returning to stay another time with family and some more gentle walking.
Ed and Jackie, The George Inn, Hubberholme.
I first walked the Dales Way in 1996 and loved it. Returning with my older brother in 2012, a regular walking companion and my 12-year-old daughter new to this kind of adventure.
There was a bad moment on the way to Dent, saved by my brother running back from the petrol station with ice-cream to spur his niece on for the last leg of the day, when she felt she’d had quite enough of walking!
Dipping our boots in Windermere felt like a real achievement for us all.
The start of The Dales Way in Ilkley and Addingham lies within the City of Bradford MDC area along with a link path from the centre of Bradford.
Each of the four Rights of Way Officers who work for Bradford Council have a section of either the main route or the link path passing through the area they cover. Recently my colleague Tim Brook with Countryside Officer Richard Perham, has arranged for a contractor to replace stiles with kissing gates and resurface a section of the path at Addingham.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Team is aware of the responsibility of having a much loved route within their area. Planning applications and developments which may impact on the route are scrutinised and comments made to try to protect the route and ensure walkers have a good experience as they pass through our district.
Fiona Plane, Area Rights of Way Officer, City of Bradford Met. District Council
It’s a truly lovely walk. The rivers, woods and hay meadows. The first time my husband and I did the walk in 1997 we were complete novices at walking any sort of long distance.
We did the walk again in 2002 and 2004 using Sherpa Van to carry our luggage and prebook accommodation. In 2012 I did the walk on my own (my husband did not wish to do it) as part of a group walking holiday. You are taken from one base each day to start the walk which isn’t ideal. As I cant find my way out of a paper bag it’s the only way I could do it.
I was one of the 30 walkers who turned up at the village hall at Bolton Abbey for the first “revival” meeting on the 20th March 2002, to announce that the Dales Way was now open, after the foot and mouth disease closed it for most of 2001. During the business, Colin announced that our strip map booklet, Dales Way Route Guide by Arthur Gemmell was due to be reprinted. The committee were going to bring it up to date, and between them survey the whole route plus the associated walks.
I was writing a walking book at the time and needed some information about the mapping process. After the meeting I asked to join the committee. I surveyed pages 35 and 36, from Lincoln's Inn Bridge to the M6. Very satisfying in all respects.
Alex McManus, DWA Footpath Secretary 2003 - 2018
The highlight of our time on the Dales Way in 1998 was the delicious walk alongside the infant River Wharfe past Hubberholme, Yockenthwaite and Outershaw hamlets, before starting the long climb up past Cam Houses to the junction with the Pennine Way.
In those days there was a problem with route finding through the top corner of Cam Woods, and I remember the trail was very messy and muddy.
John Owen, Colchester, Essex.
Our accommodation is at Burneside, the house "Sunny Hills" and ideally placed as on route and the last stop-over for walkers before their final day of walking to Bowness on Windermere.
Having walked The Dales Way ourselves in 2012 we are aware of walkers needs and arriving at accommodation with a warm welcome, caters for the drying of wet clothes and boots, a comfortable bed and refreshments on arrival, a good breakfast as well as a peaceful space to relax. We provide all information that walkers may need.
Stewart and Ann Menzies, Sunny Hills, Burneside
My partner Roy and I walked the route three times, and made regular visits from our home in Essex.
We had many experiences walking the Dales Way the most memorable was in 2002 when paths had only recently been reopened after the disastrous foot and mouth outbreak of the previous year. Everything seemed different, with no animals in the fields, and very long grass to negotiate.
Roy died totally unexpectedly on holiday abroad in 2012 and I wanted to commemorate Roy somehow along the route. The Committee and I agreed repairs to Hebden Bridge, the suspension bridge between Grassington and Burnsall, would be appropriate. That bridge gave Roy much mirth as he made it sway just as I reached the middle! On completion of the repairs, a plaque was placed on the bridge and I was recently able to explain it to a group of Irish walkers I encountered during a walk in the area.
Over the past twenty years I’ve carried out repairs to most of the gates, stiles and bridges along the Dalesway from Dent Head to Lowgill.
In December 2015, Storm Desmond provided us with a whole raft of problems to deal with, including this landslip on the Dalesway below Brigflatts, Sedbergh. My brief was to get it open again as soon as possible so, after much head scratching and a good Sunday practical day with our Dales Volunteers, we managed to get the path open again the following March ready for the Easter rush.
Graham Pye, Access Ranger - Cumbria Central Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Were I a few years younger and asked "Which of all the Long Distance Paths you have walked would you now like to walk again?" I would short list just two – the Dales Way and the South Downs Way.
Looking back at the notes I made of those trips I remember the (mainly) glorious weather - and the heavy rain on the couple of really wet days - but more particularly the spectacular scenery, the excellent accommodation close by my route and some friendly fellow walkers with whom from time to time - but not very often - I found time to chat.
it's a treat to end any journey at a destination in the Lake District. Delightful towns and villages are a feature of the route Ilkley, Burnsall, Grassington, Kettlewell, Buckden, Dent (e and Sedbergh. How blessed we are who can enjoy such a walk.
And now I just wish I thought I could do it all again!"
I’ve now completed six years of providing B & B accommodation in Ilkley for walkers starting out on the Dales Way, it’s been a fun way of meeting new people and making friends! Some of our guests come back year after year, the first year perhaps completing the whole of the Dales Way but then the next year – having been smitten by Yorkshire – they’ll come back and explore the area round Ilkley, then subsequent visits have included walks further afield.
The Dales Way often attracts walkers undertaking a long-distance walk for the first time and so it’s good to be able to pass on some of my experiences when I walked the Dales Way a couple of years ago. I walked it one April with my) husband and what a delight it was to find field after field of inquisitive lambs, but even more so to find honesty boxes with drinks and other goodies left out by locals!
Sally Dodds, Dales View Cottage, Ilkley
The Dales Way was a most enjoyable and scenic, long distance footpath which we walked in 2012 although we had some fine days it also rained! Fortunately, we were well prepared. It is certainly a walk we would love to do again and has inspired us to do other footpaths over the last few years. It was fun starting off from Ilkley and we loved Bolton Abbey. Most of the varied route was well signposted and we had good maps but one or two areas caught us out and we went off route and had to double back.
We would recommend this path to anyone who loves walking and wishes to take in some of the most beautiful scenery our country has to offer.
Stewart and Ann Menzies
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Ranger Team and I, have worked hard over many years and made many friends with members of the Dales Way Association whilst seeking to improve user experiences of the Dales Way.
Sometimes it is the small projects that make such a difference and this is one of my particular favourites. The photo shows the bespoke handmade frame and stand hand produced by the blacksmith at Dent which encompasses the Dales Way information panel.
Paul Wilkinson, Area Ranger Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
The Dales Way was our first Long Distance Path back in May 1979. We were absolute ‘greenhorns’ to backpacking, all our gear was brand new and we felt rather self conscious, however a couple of days of inclement weather through Appletreewick and Kettlewell soon changed all that!
I remember enjoying a fabulous evening at the George Inn at Hubberholme when a fiddle, guitar and accordion were produced and an impromptu folk evening ensued. Better still the landlord allowed us to sleep in one of his dry outbuildings (it was pouring outside) rather than our damp tent in a muddy field.
The following day we travelled through Langstrothdale, over Cam Fell and down to Cow Dub in Dentdale where we were able to camp in a field opposite the Sportsman’s Arms. Here we met up with fellow walkers on the ‘way’ and enjoyed another good evening. One of the joys of doing a Long Distance Path is the camaraderie with your fellow travellers as you all strive towards the ultimate goal and journey’s end.
Dent and Sedbergh came and went but eventually we reached Burneside, the site of our final camp, complete with stunning views of the Lakeland Fells. We were now feeling like seasoned backpackers and our final day’s walk to Bowness was a celebratory one, but also tinged with sadness that it would soon all be over.
We’d had a fabulous week with marvellous scenery and made many new friends. The process had been a steep learning curve but we had gained so much and couldn’t wait to start planning our next trek.
Sheila and Frank Gordon. Giggleswick
I’m lucky enough to have my office at Grassington and as a dog owner I walk the section of the Dales Way at least three times a week, either from Linton Bridge south to Hebden Suspension Bridge or going north to Grassington Bridge and beyond.
Every day and through the changing of the seasons I spot something different, but or me this picture captures the essence of the Dales Way and the work of the National Park; the natural beauty experienced whilst walking along the route; the heritage to be seen created by centuries of interaction by the people of the Dales; the innovation needed in creating new opportunities along the route in this case from old techniques with the Archimedes’ Screws helping generating renewable energy for Grassington. So diverse, what a route!
Alan Hulme, Head of Park Management Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
I completed the walk from Ilkley with my father in 1956 before it ever became the Dales Way.
We stayed at the Youth Hostels of Linton, Kettlewell, Deeside house in Dentdale, Stonecross in Kendal, Damson Dene at Crosthwaite, Hawkeshead and Elterwater in Langdale. It was so wet in Langdale as we walked to Dungeon Ghyll, with every gully foaming white streaks of water running down the hillsides, that we wore our capes back to front to keep out the torrential rain!
A few years later I surveyed sections of the Pennine Way for the Yorkshire Dales National Park before it was officially opened on Malham Moor.
Long distance walks have good everlasting memories.
A.D. Walbank, Ilkley.