Welcome to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, the purest form of English highland landscape, with traditions and views, which have remained virtually untouched for centuries. Soft rolling hills, limestone edges, green valleys, waterfalls, a Roman road, several interesting old churches, an abbey and some lovely Real Ale pubs all feature here as well as the villages proud of their heritage. This tour includes the whole 84 mile length of this much loved long distance path, established in 1968, which runs right across the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the Lake District. Gradients and terrain are generally straight forward, but the going may be muddy underfoot in wet weather; there are some high moorland areas to cross. Much of the trail follows pretty river valleys especially The Wharfe, Dee, Rawthey, Lune and The Kent. All have beauty spots for shady picnics, small ravines and rapids and are patrolled by birds such as Berwick swans, kingfishers, dippers and wagtails. Brown trout lurk in their waters depths. There are also a large number of “stiles” and “kissing gates” to negotiate as you stroll across fields, so good mobility is important. The itinerary follows Wharfedale (where there is time to admire the ruins of Bolton Abbey) and then via Hubberholme, gradually gaining height upstream to reach the Pennine watershed at Cam Fell (1700 feet). The way then runs down Dentdale to the market town of Sedbergh and across sheep pastures to Bowness on Windermere.
This tour is graded Moderate. Much of the walking follows trails beside rivers,and then there is quite a mix of walking as the High Pennines are crossed and one enters the Lake District. Trails can be rough, boggy and muddy in places. There is also a small amount of tarmac walking.
Make your own way to Ilkley. Optional walk to Cow, Calf Rocks and Ilkley Moor. Here you can find the ‘White Well’ a tiny Victorian spa, not much bigger than a luxury sized bath, popular in the days when people with pneumonia were encouraged to bathe in icy cold waters. If the flag is flying, a small teashop is also open (2.5 hr round trip). If you prefer to relax have a look around this attractive country town with its range of specialist local family shops and cafes, there is a branch of Betty’s Tea Rooms with declicious cakes and a variety of teas. There is a small history museum and next to it, All Saints Church, which is built on the site of a Roman fort, contains some Anglo-Saxon crosses dating back to the 9th century.
Accommodation: Stay in a Victorian riverside hotel. All facilities are en suite, and rooms come equipped with satellite TV. This is a pub hotel and does great food throughout the day and there is a separate restaurant area away from the bar. The picturesque setting, with river views and rowing in the summer months, make this an ideal place to start our tour.
Lower Wharfedale and Bolton Abbey. This promises to be a very beautiful walk tracing the side of the River Wharfe. Undoubtedly, the well-preserved remains of Bolton Abbey are a popular spot especially on a weekend. To continue, you can cross to the other side of the Wharfe either by the bridge or by a long sequence of stepping stones. The route continues through the Duke of Devonshire’s estate and into beautiful Strid Woods, with a little gorge area - The Strid where the Wharfe narrows to a point that it has a cheese wire effect on the rocks incising a little gorge. From here the landscape opens up again as you head past the substantial structure of Barden Bridge. Thirsty people with a sensitivity for architecture, might like to take mile or so detour to the pretty village of Appletreewick which has an interesting ensemble of local stone houses as well as two nice pubs. Watch out for the weather stone, which can tell you the weather in any weather! You arrive at Burnsall bridge, where you conclude in this pretty village with a superb pub called the Red Lion for your evening meal. There are a couple of interesting churches including St. Wilfrid’s from the 1400s.
Accommodation: Our B&Bs tonight offers a warm welcome. Either a lodge near Appletreewick or an 18th century farmhouse in Burnsall which still retains many of its original features.
Today is an upland and lowland day. Firstly follow the Wharfe past attractive Linton to the market town of Grassington, with is cobbled streets and teashops. The route then leaves the river to start heading across drystone wall fringed upland fields. There are great views over rocky scars, over dales and limestone pavements, before descending to reacquaint oneself with the river as you reach the old lead mining village of Kettlewell with three pretty looking pubs, this was the setting for the film ‘Calendar Girls’ filmed in 2003.
Accommodation: An 18th century building, but with refurbished rooms and either river or hill views.
Rejoining the river, thread your way through sheepy fields to Buckden an even smaller village than Kettlewell. Rest on the green before following the Wharfe towards its upper youthful sections, the water spilling off limestone terraces and small waterfalls, you first pass Hubberholme with its attractive church and torrents, at Yockenthwaite try to find the tiny stone circle. Further up at Beckermonds, you are at the source of the Wharfe from two small becks or streams. You may have to carry on up the valleyside to Oughtershaw another mile or so.
Accommodation: 17th century farmhouse, offering authentic rustic charm. You may also be in a converted barn from 1810, on the grounds of the farm. Meals are taken in the farm house. At Oughtershaw you will be on a farm from the 1870s, which concentrates on wildlife conservation.
Say goodbye to the infant River Wharfe, you climb stiffly up and out of Wharfedale over Cam Fell. The farmland here can be boggy! A steep ascent from Cam houses, the last farm in the Dale, brings you to a broad track and the highest point of the walk 1710ft / 521m, then start descending along what was once a Roman road, cutting across the Pennine Way Footpath and down into Dentdale. Views hopefully of the Yorkshire three peaks; Penyghent, Whernside and Ingelborough. Walk down towards Ribblehead and then there is a further moorland section re-ascending slightly to cross over to Denthead and then you are confronted with the magnificent viaduct on the Settle to Carlisle Railway, which almost seems to be a natural part of the surroundings. Another mile of steep descent along the pretty River Dee, brings you to your Inn at Cowgill, a quiet pretty place, there are occasional cars, but you are more likely to be awoken by the sound of owls, sheep and the sparkling, splashing river.
Accommodation: A nice old pub with lovely rooms although these are not ensuite.
An attractive valleyside and river crossing day through Dentdale to Sedbergh. At the foot of the steep Howgill Fells. The Dee becomes wider and more ‘fluid’ as you go. After about 4 miles there is a welcome diversion offered across the river in the village of Dent, built of grey limestone with cobbled streets and well protected traditionally maintained buildings, this was the birth place of Adam Sedgwick in 1785, an important geology professor who much influenced Charles Darwin later on. There are a couple of welcome tea shops and the George and Dragon pub serves ale crafted by the Dent Brewery only a couple of miles away. St. Andrew’s church has a beautiful interior. Following the river some more, ascend over a slight ridge and down into Garsdale and cross the river Rawthey and up steeply to the small town of Sedbergh at the foot of the wildly undulating Howgill Fells. Sedbergh is famous for its Public school and like Ilkey, has a number of family run shops. There are however, an overwhelming amount of bookshops, as it claims to be England’s book town, worth knowing if you are out of reading material by this stage of the walking tour!
Accommodation: The Inn has a traditional English country town feel to it, offering local beers in the attractively decorated bar and dining area. All rooms have tea and coffee making facilities, a TV and some are ensuite. Sometimes a comfortable cottage owned by the pub, is used for accommodation about 150 metres away from the inn.
You may wish to have a leisurely breakfast and depart Sedbergh later in the day exploring more of the village. Return to the River Rawthey, and follow this attractive river, before joining the River Lune walking past some more viaducts reflecting the glorious Victorian era of engineering. At Crook of Lune you will cross a beautiful parabolic arch bridge, which is probably 500 years old. The view from it towards the Howgill Fells is a beauty. The Way now follows across an undulating landscape of sheep pastureland, with views of the Howgills before reaching a couple of hamlets where we may stay.
Accommodation: Near Grayrigg stay in a 1860s barn conversion. With a sitting room that has hill views. Otherwise at Patton Bridge, our accommodation is about a mile of the route with again lovely views overlooking the fells.
Now towards the Lake District. You will reach Black Moss Tarn, a tiny lake tucked into a fold of the meadows, often with swans and geese floating upon it. Then descend, meeting briefly the rivers Mint and Sprint and onwards towards the 14th century Burneside Hall, a Pele tower to protect inhabitants from the Scots and the ‘Border Reivers’ who caused mayhem in this land. Arriving at Burneside, the first realization is that this is an industrial rather than tourist village dominated by a paper mill relying on the waters of the River Kent. The oldest parts of this mill are worth having a look at, with its interesting clock tower. Burneside has a small shop for snacks, or the pub may be open for a drink. Then follow the attractive River Kent to Staveley passing interesting former mill areas, which in some cases have been creatively redeveloped into housing. The millponds however still remain and often trout can be seen jumping for fly. A few miles bring you into Staveley, an attractive village with coffee shops, a brewery, outdoor shops and an interesting bell tower.
Accommodation: Our bed & breakfast is a 400 year old former Westmorland farmhouse. Painstakingly restored and refurbished, the restoration has retained many of the original features typical of a 17th century Lakeland farmhouse.
The walk becomes increasingly rural and then onto wilder areas with heather and bracken clad hills. On a good day a short diversion up to School Knott will reveal a great Lakeland panorama including the Coniston Fells, Crinkle Crags and Scafell. Then you descend towards Lake Windermere, which remains elusive until you finally leave woodland, and descend into Bowness on Windermere, a tourist town on the lakeside, this expanse of water is England's largest natural lake.
Accommodation: A traditional Lakeland stone Victorian terraced house, a couple of minutes walk from Winderemere.
After breakfast, make your way to the train station for your onward journey.
Per Person, Twin Share