Dales Way - Self Guided - 7 days
The Dales Way runs for 80 miles from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, following mostly riverside paths and passing through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the gentle foothills of southern Lakeland to the shore of England's grandest lake.
For the half of the route is low level as it follows a number of rivers before heading in to quiet moorland. With the town of Sedbergh the walker gets a fine view of the Howgills before heading through farmland and along more rivers before ending at Windermere, in the Lake District.
This is not a challenging self-guided walk, but the rewards are stunning as you pass through a variety of landscapes.
Accommodation is in well appointed bed and breakfasts, inns and small family run hotels. Breakfasts are provided and evening meals can be taken in restaurants or pubs close to the accommodation. We book all your accommodation, take you to the start point, transfer your luggage and then provide you with maps and an itinerary for you to do the trails self guided.
What better way to complete the Dales Way than by walking the trail at your own pace with this self guided trip.
Day 1 - Arrive Ilkley
Day 2 - Ilkley to Burnsall - 13 miles
Day 3 - Burnsall to Hubberholme - 16 miles
Day 4 - Hubberholme to Ribblehead - 16 miles
Day 5 - Ribblehead to Sedbergh - 14 miles
Day 6 - Sedbergh to Burneside/Overnight Kendal - 12 miles
Day 7 - Burneside to Bowness-on-Windermere - 9 miles
Day : 1 - Arrive IlkleyOvernight stay
Arrive in the lovely Yorkshire town of Ilkley.
If you arrive by car you can leave your car in Ilkley for the duration of the trip and we will run you back to it at the end of your holiday.
If you arrive by train the station will be a 10-minute walk or a short taxi journey to your first nights accommodation.
Settle into your accommodation and perhaps enjoy trying an ale in the local pub.
Day : 2 - Ilkey to Burnsall13 miles (21 kilometres)
The path officially starts by the Old Bridge over the Wharfe on the edge of Ilkley where a stone seat and plaque mark the beginning. There is a similar seat at the end of the walk.
After a short distance you reach Addingham, a small town on route and the first of three religious historical sites that day. The trail takes a path through the grounds of St Peter’s Church that is at least Saxon in age but with Iron Age remains around the grounds.
A short distance later the view begins to open out and there is a glimpse of the heather moors above Bolton Abbey. Turning around you see the whole skyline of Ilkley Moor.
Further along the view was dominated by Bolton Abbey that sits just above the valley floor.
Established in 1154 the Abbey is for the most part ruined except for a restored section
After a little distance you enter Strid Wood and you come upon The Strid. Although extending little more than 50 yards in length The Strid is probably the most notorious stretch of water in England. Running beneath steep wooded banks the Wharfe is squeezed through a narrow gap of limestone creating a turbulent vortex. A 12th century legend tells of William de Roomily who lost his life trying to leap across the gap. His grief stricken mother gave land to monks in return for praying for his soul and so Bolton Abbey was founded. Emerging from the woods you follow a lovely section of river upstream past Barden Tower to Burnsall, a small village on the river known for its historic church and Grammar School founded in 1650 part of which is till used today as the village school.
Your overnight stay is in Burnsall this evening.
Day : 3 - Burnsall to Hubberholme16 miles (26 kilometres)
From Burnsall the path sticks close to the river passing by Loop Scar, limestone cliffs with evidence of caves and water worn bluffs high up, evidence of higher water levels in the past. The river is channelled through this gorge which might explain the presence of dippers, herons, jumping fish and Otter spraint.
A majestic line of chestnut trees for the next few miles followed by pleasant riverside fields into Grassington.
Before turning up the path into Grassington it is worth stepping onto the bridge over Linton Falls to watch the Wharfe tumbling over the falls.
Grassington is the largest place you will pass through before getting to Sedbergh in 3 days’ time so do a mental double check that you don’t need anything. The character of the trail changes here, leaving the lush low lying meadows I climbed up onto the limestone pavement and passed over dry valleys higher up the fell with extensive views into the upper Wharfe beyond.
Dropping to Kettlewell it was noticeable that you are now moving into remoter parts accentuated by a change in the field patters and barns. Names too here reflect their Norse origin and beyond Buckden you follow a delightful green lane to Hubberholme where you will be staying that night.
Day : 4 - Hubberholme to Ribblehead13 miles (21 kilometres)
Leaving Hubberholme the landscape changes again becoming rough upland with bracken and marsh grasses dominating.
Today the trail climbs to the high point on the trail and crosses into the top of the Ribble from where you can see views of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
After Yockerthwaite the trail passes a Bronze Age stone circle which is thought to have either being a henge or a base of a burial mound. These remains are perhaps testament to how long these upland routes have been in use.
At Nethergill Farm Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have an open door into their information centre and it’s a great place to have a cuppa from the self-service kitchen.
Moving on the trail steadily climbs past the remote dwelling at Cam Houses and up onto the Cam High Road. The high point at just over 500 metres is marked by an obvious cairn.
The trail is easy going now following the route of a Roman Road and I welcomed the steady drop to Gearstones and onto to Ribblehead where I could see the famous Ribblehead viaduct on your approach.
Day : 5 - Ribblehead to Sedbergh16.5 miles (26.5 kilometres)
Today the trail makes another dramatic change, climbing over to Dentdale and along the Dee to Sedbergh. It’s noticeable today that the landscape and building start to change to a more Cumbrian feel accentuated by the trail swinging towards the west under the slopes of the Howgills.
You start the day with a steady climb over moorland then joining a minor road and dropped into Dentdale. Yu can savour the views of Penygent and Inglebrough.
The next village you reach is Dent. Dent is a lovely village with narrow, cobbled streets. A great place to stop for a cuppa and cake at the local Heritage Centre and wonder around the displays learning about the famous ‘black marble’ limestone quarried locally and the Dent ‘Terrible knitters’!
The day finishes with an amble by the river, through fields and a final climb over Long Rigg along a green road. From the top you can stop for a while in the late afternoon sun to admire the glorious views over Sedbergh and the Howgill fells beyond.
This night you will be stopping in Sedburgh.
Day : 6 - Sedbergh to Burneside/Overnight Kendal 16 miles (26 kilometres)
After leaving Sedbergh it is a nice option to divert from the trail at Burks a little to visit the Quaker Meeting House at Brigflatts.
This hamlet and the nearby Firbank Fell played a crucial role in the formation of the Quaker Movement in 1652. The simple building built in 1675 is still used and you can go in and wander around the displays, chat to the warden and use the self-service kitchen.
At the moment there is no direct path to join the riverside Dales Way trail so you have to retrace your steps to Birks and resumed your onward journey.
For half of the day the trail follows the line of the river Lune before crossing the M6 motorway (over a bridge of course!) then to Burneside.
Approaching the M6 the trail swings definitely westwards and here you get your first glimpse of the Lake District hills a sign that the end is approaching.
Over the M6 the trail weaves through fields and over low hills to the village of Burneside.
Day : 7 - Burneside to Bowness-on-Windermere9 miles (14 kilometres)
The trail passes to the south of the town passing through fields and up and over low hills with extensive views towards Langdale, Kentmere and across to Coniston Old Man.
The end does comes quickly enough and above Bowness you must have a well-deserved rest on the Dales Way seat, a copy of the one at the start in Ilkley, to admire the view over Bowness and to reflect on what had been a tremendous and varied journey. All that remains is to drop into busy Bowness for a celebratory cuppa before heading home.
From here you are just a short walk away from the train station or we can run you back to Ilkley to pick up your car.
Great trail27th Oct 2016
We walked this trail last year and loved every moment of it. You pass through some very different countryside. Really like the middle few days with great views of the Three Peaks, a truly special part of the Dales. The surprise was how nice the section to the West of the M6 is as you head to Bowness on Windermere, not an area we have walked in before but a great end to the holiday.
WHAT THE PRICE INCLUDES
(A) Bed and Breakfast accommodation (twin or double share basis).
(B) Route map, guide book and trip notes specific to your trip, including emergency contact numbers.
(C) Luggage transfers between accommodation.
(E) End transfer from Bowness on Windermere to Ilkley (if you arrived by car)
(F) 24 hour emergency back-up service.
WHAT THE PRICE EXCLUDES
(A) Any additional transfers not mentioned in the dossiers.
(B) Personal clothing and equipment.
(D) Lunch and Evening meals.
(E) Single room option (if required, see single supplement)
(F) Pick up and drop off at airports.
The Shepherds Walks Representative will :
B) Provide you with maps, guidebook and talk you through the route over the phone if you request this.
C) Provide you with information relating to events in the area during your time there.
D) Arrange the transportation of your luggage.
E) Be available should you have any problems during your trip
F) Meet you on departure day to provide transfers as necessary to your car if specified in your booking or itinerary.
We are here to offer you the best holiday you could ever imagine and we aim to do this through the personal service that we offer.
Make your holiday run smoothly – We are here for you. Our sole objective is for us to help you. We are here at any stage of your holiday and even in the planning stages. We tailor things to your requirements, not those of the masses.
We don’t cut corners - We want to see you again and want you to speak highly of Shepherds Walks Holidays. This is why we are literally willing to go that extra mile. The information you receive at every stage will be clear and leave you asking no questions.
We have personally walked all the trips we offer - We know exactly what you are going to embark on and can advise you on any aspects of your holiday over and well above what many of our competitors can.
Press choose to walk with us – Shepherds Walks Holidays are asked to deliver a very high percentage of the trips for journalists in the region. When the Tourist Boards are approached by a journalist wanting to visit the area who do they ask to provide their holiday or take them out walking? Shepherds Walks.
We have had press trips on all our routes and the articles speak for themselves.
Protected Holiday - All our holidays are protected through the operation of a Trust Account.
We are close at hand if you need us – We are a local business and if you need us at any time during your holiday just ask. If you are on a self guided trip we often will catch up with you, even over a drink one evening, just to make sure everything is going well. It’s better to iron out any little problems during your holiday, rather than hearing about them when you are back at home.
We enjoy great relationships with your accommodation providers and they will help us to help you
As we are literally on the doorstep we know the best places to stay. Often we will have block booked the best accommodation the previous year. We want our customers to stay in the best possible accommodation. As we know the proprietors personally and we liaise with them regularly they will go that extra mile to help us to help you whilst out on your route.
That is why Shepherds Walks has won awards and has helped people relax and totally enjoy their visit to this wonderful part of the country. We are willing to go that extra mile!
What type of accommodation will we be staying in - self guided trip
The accommodation on the tours are in Inns, family-run hotels, and Bed and Breakfasts. We endeavour to provide en-suite accommodation.
Do you move our bags for us on our walking holiday?
Yes, we move your bags for you everyday. You just leave your main bag at your accommodation and we will move it for you, so it will be at your next nights accommodation waiting for you.
You just carry your day pack.
Your baggage allowance for the trip is one main piece of luggage which should be preferably either a backpack/rucksack or sports bag, and one small daypack. Try to travel as light as possible. It is best to avoid large solid hardtop suitcases as these cause difficulties on transfer vehicles etc.
The larger piece of luggage will travel on the vehicle between accommodations and the daypack should be suitable for carrying any additional outer-layer clothing and items you will need on your walk during the day. As a general rule, we would recommend that your main piece of luggage shouldn't weigh more than 15 - 20 kilos.
I see I get 15% off any purchases at Cotswold Outdoor, how and where can I use this?
Shepherds Walks Holidays have negotiated this special discount for you to use.
Four weeks before your departure, when you receive all your holiday info you will also receive full information about how to get 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor.
This you can use In-store, Online, Click & Collect and Mail Order.
What walking equipment will I need for this trip?
Good quality walking boots/shoes will be needed for the trip and given the normal weather conditions, appropriate outdoor clothing including waterproofs are recommended. More details will be provided in your pre-departure dossier.
Will I be able to use my mobile phone.
Along the Dales Way you will find that there is a poor mobile phone signal for the first 2/3 of the trail.
You will be able to check your reception through your service provider's website. The sites will ask for a postcode or town – if you are unsure you could use one of the National Park Centre's postcodes.
Will I be able to get Wi-Fi in the accommodations.
Wi-Fi can be limited in the accomodations along the Dales Way.