The Dales Way runs from Ilkley to Bowness on Windermere, crossing the Yorkshire Dales and into the Lake District. We did the first half over three days, ending at Ribblehead. Overall it is relatively gentle and very pretty, mostly following the river Wharfe before dropping down towards Ribblehead on the Pennine Way.
At the time we did the walk, Wharfedale Brewery were running a promotion (“The Ales Way”), wherein they had flagged a number of pubs along the route, providing a card to be stamped at each one visited. We made it to eleven of them…
To get started, we drove to Ribblehead, leaving the car at The Station Inn and taking a train south to Skipton. From there, we took a taxi (£20) to the start of the walk at Ilkley.
On the Thursday night, we stayed in The Dalesway Hotel in Ilkley.
- Day 1: Ilkley to Grassington
- Day 2: Grassington to Buckden
- Day 3: Buckden to Ribblehead
Friday - Ilkley to Grassington
- Distance: 17.75 miles
- Walking time: 8.5 hrs
- Difficulty: Tough
- Lunch: Strid Wood Tea Rooms, Bolton Abbey
- Accommodation: The Devonshire Hotel
The beginning of the day was a little unpromising, as it takes a couple of miles to leave Ilkley behind and feel that you’ve really entered the Dales. It soon greatly improves, however, and there is a lovely section crossing the grounds of Bolton Abbey and past the Strid, where the river is funnelled at great pressure between a narrow gap in the rock.
Saturday - Grassington to Buckden
- Distance: 13.5 miles
- Walking time: 6.0 hrs
- Difficulty: Medium
- Lunch: The Blue Bell Inn, Kettlewell
- Accommodation: The Buck Inn
This day was a little shorter than we had hoped. We wanted to stay in The George Inn at Hubberholme but they didn’t have space, so we ended up a mile and a half further south in The Buck Inn. The latter did, however, serve the best sausage of the weekend with their fried breakfast.
Sunday - Buckden to Ribblehead
- Distance: 13.75 miles
- Walking time: 7.0 hrs
- Difficulty: Medium/Tough
- Lunch: The Station Inn
On the last day, the Dales Way took us away from the river and up into the hills, across the side of a picturesque valley, before picking up the Pennine Way. This turns into a wide track for quite a long descent to the road up from Ribblehead, along which we had to walk in order to get back to the car (and some food).