along the Dales Way - practicalities

We walked the Dales Way in June 2012. For us the final section, though charming, didn't quite match up to the exhilaration of the country around the Three Peaks; so, we recommend a version ending at Dent Station (the highest regular station in the UK), with an adjustment to walk there. The last few days of the Dales Way are noted at the bottom for those who want to do the whole thing.

The walking is easy; none of the days proved too long. The only tedious climb is on day 4, on a boggy path by Cam Houses up to the Pennine Way; but it's worth it! The following day there is a climb over Blea Moor, but the path surface is excellent.

Because this is a recognised trail, you can get companies like Sherpa Van to carry your luggage (and book your B&Bs for you). The Dales Way Association has lots of information, including many other places to stay along the route.

1. Walking days
This version takes six days including travel from London. The whole Dales Way is 84 miles. This suggestion, finishing at Dent station, is about 60 miles.

2. Getting there and away
Getting there: train to Ilkley from London, King's Cross, 3 hours approx.
Getting away: Dent (on the Settle-Carlisle line, and the UK's highest station; connection at Leeds) to London, Euston, 4 hours approx.

3. Books & Maps
There are many publications on the Dales Way. We used the Harvey map. It really does shrug off the water. It's very efficiently laid out to cover the route, but this means that you don't get the wider context, or sometimes the names of the hills around you.
For route details we used the Dales Way route guide with Associated Walks by Arthur Gemmell and Colin Speakman. This is not really needed for the first three days, but useful for getting to Ribblehead (day 4) and essential for going over Blea Moor to Dent (day 5). Unfortunately, although we got it in a village shop on the route, it is out of print, so you might need the OS Explorer OL 2 map (which covers the Three Peaks area) instead.

4. The route: Prices quoted are of June 2012, for a double room/demi-pension.
The signage is generally good, with a combination of wooden signposts and a logo of a yellow arrow on a green background. However, it wasn't 100%; a couple of times we lost the way, but it wasn't hard to refind it.

Day 1:Train to Ilkley (change at Leeds). Walk Ilkley to Addingham. 3 miles; just over an hour.
B&B at The Crown Inn (£70; Tel 01943 830 278).
Day 2: Addingham to Grassington. 13 miles; am 2.5 hours; pm 3.25 hours.
B&B at The Black Horse Hotel (£75-80; Tel 01756 752770).
Day 3: Grassington to Hubberholme. 12 miles; am 2.5 hours; pm 3 hours.
B&B at The George Inn (£80; Tel 01756 760223).
11 miles; am 2.5 hours; pm 2.75 hours.
Day 4: Hubberholme to Ribblehead Viaduct. 11 miles; am 2.5 hours; 3 hours pm. This means leaving the Dales Way at the B6255 and walking a mile or two down it. It can be a busy road, but there are grass verges either side, and with a good map you can find footpath alternatives for most of it.
B&B at The Station Inn (£70; Tel 01524 241274).
Day 5: Ribblehead to Dent. 8 miles; 3.5 hours.
Go North beside the railway line on an obvious track, with Whernside to the left (early on there is a sign saying 'Footpath to Dent'); cross at the bridge; come down the Craven Way. When you meet tarmac turn right, then left at the T junction; you will soon meet the Dales Way coming from the right into Dent.
B&B at The Sun Inn (£42; Tel 01539 625208).
Day 6: Dent to Dent station: walk back along the Dales Way up Dentdale to Lea Yeat; turn up the little road to the station. About 5 miles. 1.5 hours.

If you are doing the whole Dales Way, days 1 to 5 are as above. Then
Day 6: Dent to Bramaskew. 10 miles; am 2 hours; pm 2 hours.
B&B at Bramaskew Farm, Howgill, near Sedburgh. It's right on the path. (£60 Tel: 01539 621529).
2 course evening meal £12 pp. The welcome is very warm.
Day 7: Bramaskew to Whinfell Tarn. 10 miles; am 2 hours; pm 1.5 hours.
B&B at Crook Howe, Whinfell, LA8 9EG. (£70; Tel 01539 824448). 3 course evening meal £15 pp.
This is in a wonderful situation - right by Whinfell Tarn.
Day 8: Whinfell Tarn to Bowness-on-Windermere. 14 miles; am 3 hours; pm about 3 hours. We lost the signs after a very clear one pointing to Cleabarrow, and came in a different way; maybe you'll be more successful!