- A National Trail through rugged Yorkshire and the majestic Lake District
- Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England
- Diverse walking from remote moorland to the hills of Cumbria
- Relax in cosy and friendly country inn’s and B&B's
- View the unfolding vistas through the eyes of Wordsworth and Ruskin
The Dales Way crosses two national parks and takes you from the rugged magnificence of Yorkshire all the way to the majestic finery of the Lake District.
This walk is full of diversity, beginning with lush meadowlands and black bordered moors of the Yorkshire Dales, and ending with the luminous waters of Windermere and the splendour of the Lake District.
The Dales Way is full of natural wonder and is one of the greenest walks you will ever take, with lush, emerald valleys, fields, crags and fells to accompany you every step of the way.
Day 1: Arrive Ilkley
Arrive in the lovely Yorkshire town of Ilkley. Settle into your accommodation and perhaps enjoy trying an ale in the local pub.
Day 2: Ilkley to Burnsall - 13 miles, 21 km
Starting at the Old Bridge in Ilkley, you make your way north on your walk up to Burnsall and through lush meadowlands and past Bolton Priory. Pass by stunning bridges and medieval settlements before Burnsall Bridge comes into view, marking the end of the stage. This quaint little town provides a few tea rooms and a local shop.
Day 3: Burnsall to Hubberholme - 15 miles, 24 km
As you leave Burnsall the river roars dramatically beneath limestone crags. Begin to climb and admire the amazing views over Wharfedale. Walk into Grassington, a fabulous Dale’s village with oodles of charm. Discover more stunning views over the pretty farm land, laid out like a patchwork quilt around you as you head up to Coniston Pike. After some gentle woodland walking, follow a riverside until you come to your destination for this evening, Hubberholme, a pretty little village
Day 4: Hubberholme to Dent Head (Cowgill) - 17 miles, 27 km
Today you leave Wharfedale and enter Dentdale. This path takes you past the river and to Deepdale Gill, which is a splendidly rugged area. The path then climbs, and later you can take in the views of the three peaks, Whernside, Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough. Evidence of the impending Lake District is now visible as you head towards the impressive Dent Head Viaduct.
Day 5: Dent Head (Cowgill) to Sedbergh - 9.5 miles, 15 km
After passing Scar Force and Dent Station (England's highest railway station), you will wind your way through meadow and forest as steep hills rise on both sides and the ominous Whernside looms some 2414 ft above you.
A short while after Dent, the river which had become more of a stream earlier today, is back to its crashing glory and the bird life is in full flow again. On this section, you will get the sense of leaving Yorkshire and entering the Lake District. Spend the night in Sedbergh.
Day 6: Sedbergh to Burneside/Overnight Kendal - 15.5 miles, 25 km
The views and landscapes are delightful today as more evidence of the approaching Lake District forms up ahead, as you pass through slate-roofed villages and amble across a beck. The mighty Howgills dominate the skyline for most of the day. Pass Black Moss Tarn and cross the River Sprint before heading into Burneside, your next port of call.
Day 7: Burneside to Bowness-on-Windermere - 9.5 miles, 15 km
As you head off to the River Kent, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Kingfishers on this section. Pass plenty of interesting old mills, including an entire village of them at Cowen Head. The scenery becomes rockier as you progress to the end of the Dales Way and the river really comes into its own as it crashes and gurgles over the rocks.
As you see the majestic lake ahead you can choose the long or short way to your final destination, Bowness-on-Windermere, a great place to celebrate your amazing journey.
Day 8: Onward Travel
One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.
This independent walking vacation is available to solo walkers but as all our vacations are priced per person based on two sharing there is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs we incur.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants.
Manor House - Burnsall
The Manor House is located 150 yards from the Red Lion Inn, Where you are welcome to Eat and drink. The bedrooms are modern, most having lovely views of the River Wharfe and the village.
Kirkgill Manor - Hubberholme
The Manor stands on the edge of the ancient and picturesque hamlet of Hubberholme, enjoying magnificent views of the surrounding fells.
Sportsman Inn - Cowgill
This charming 17th century country Inn is situated at the head of beautiful Dentdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.Sandra Martin the owner offers a warm welcome and good homecooked meals are available along with a selection of cask ales.
George & Dragon - Dent
The George & Dragon is a grade 2 listed building in the centre of Dent Village. A popular choice with walkers and locals this Inn has supplies a fine selection of local ales.
Dalesman Country Inn - Sedbergh
At the Dalesman no two guest rooms are the same and they have paid attention to finer details. The inn has a traditional style bar with a welcoming log burner and traditional ales.
Westmorland Inn - Bowness-on-Windermere
The house is traditionally built in Lakeland style circa 1900 and retains many of its original features. Each room has complimentary tea/coffee making facilities.
This trip is available to start on any day of the week from the beginning of April and end of October. You can start on any date that suits your travel plans, subject to availability.
In order to help with availability, we recommend either booking an extra night in Bowness at the end of your walk or avoiding finishing in Bowness at the weekend - many B&B's only accept 2 night bookings at the weekend in Bowness and it can make it more difficult to confirm your trip if you do finish at the weekend.
Grade & Terrain
This walk is graded moderate and the walking surface is on everything from good walking trails to forestry roads and rough hillsides. The daily distances are anywhere between 9 and 16 miles, therefore you will have a good fitness level in order to make the most out of your tour.
Navigation, Route Notes & Maps
This route is waymarked and much of it follows a well laid out path so you will not need to be a very experienced navigator with a map and compass. However, as with any self-guided walk, it would be very helpful to have at least some navigating experience. This tour also has access to the Macs Adventure Navigation Smartphone App - we highly recommend using it, or at least having it on your phone ready to use should you ever be in any doubt about your direction.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight location. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person. Please ensure that you do not bring more than one bag of 20kg, as if this occurs, the luggage transfer company will ask you to pay an additional fee (approx. £8.50 per day, per bag). This additional payment, should it be necessary, needs to be made locally to the driver and in cash. Any additional bags need to labelled as if they are not labelled we cannot guarantee that they will reach you at the next accommodation.
If you are travelling from far afield and do have more than one bag it is possible to arrange for the extra luggage to be stored whilst you are on the tour for a fee of £25 per bag. These additional bags would be picked up at your accommodation at the start point (St Bees or Kirkby Stephen) and dropped off wherever you finish depending on the itinerary you choose to do. Please contact us if you are interested in this option.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
Getting to/from Ilkley
The closest airport is Leeds Bradford and there are frequent bus links to Ilkley. Travel time from Leeds Bradford Airport via Leeds is approx. 1 hour.
Manchester Airport is approx. 2 hours 30 minutes by public transport to IIkley via Leeds.
London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are probably the best options for those travelling from outside the UK. From the airport you would travel to Kings Cross, where trains leave approx. every half an hour to IIkley via Leeds.
Ilkley is well serviced via Leeds (approx. 30 minutes) which connects with most major towns, trains leave every hour from Leeds. For more information check out the National Rail Enquiries web page.
We generally recommend that you use public transport to access your walk. Should you be driving please contact your accommodation directly to enquire about parking. The Dales area is bordered by major trunk roads. Leeds can also be reached by National Express buses with local services to Ilkley.
Getting to/from Bowness-on-Windermere
From the end of the walk at Bowness-on-Windermere you can travel onwards by all forms of public transport, as it is well linked.
Manchester Airport is the closest airport to Bowness-on-Windermere and it takes approx. 2 hours 30 minutes to reach by train.
Windermere is the closest train station which is a short 10 minute bus or taxi journey from Bowness-on-Windermere. From here you can connect to most major towns in the UK, including Manchester (2 hours), Newcastle (3 hours), Glasgow (3 hours) and London (4 hours).
There is very limited parking in Bowness-on-Windermere so we do not recommend parking your car here.
- 7 Nights in B&B’s, guest houses, small hotels and country inn’s
- 7 Breakfasts
- Daily luggage transfers
- Dales Way guidebook and and map
- Information pack
- GPX tracks and access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone Navigation App
- 24/7 Telephone support from our UK office
- Travel insurance (required)
- Travel to Ilkley
- Travel from Bowness-on-Windermere
- Lunches & Dinners
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal equipment
- Single room supplement
- Additional Nights
We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any more information.
How fit do I need to be?
We offer a range of itineraries so you can choose your preferred daily distance so hopefully you will find an itinerary that suits your preferred level of activity. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
How do the baggage transfers work?
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Dales Way is extremely popular through the summer.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. You can download a full equipment list from the downloads page of our website.
When is the best time of year?
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between late March and September offers a wonderful experience.
Am I able to take my dog?
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
You can use public transport, or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.