For anybody looking to have their first experience of a long distance walking holiday, then I would highly recommend the Dales Way!
I did a couple of days of walking in the Yorkshire Dales section of this walk in September this year (have been meaning to post this before now but been getting carried away in researching all our new products for next year!) and throughly enjoyed strolling alongside the Wharfe and experiencing the wonderful isolation of Cam Houses (despite the pretty miserable weather!)
The full Dales Way starts in the attractive Yorkshire town of Ilkley, and finishes in the bustling lake district town of Bowness-on-Windermere, perfectly combining 2 National Parks and 2 fantastic areas for walking! Due to limited time (and admittedly not wanting to spend too much time walking in the rain!) we chose to walk from Kettlewell to Cowgill, taking in the best of the Yorkshire Dales as I did so. We started our trip by arriving at Cowgill and parking up at the delightful Sportsman Inn where we were to leave our car for the next couple of days while we walked.
As we arrived in Cowgill, passing through the chocolate box village of Dent we got a taste of some of the stunning views to come - and i've got to say i'm quite glad we got lost driving down and arrived late as the views over the Dales with the sun setting were just spectacular! We were given a warm welcome by Sandra and Ron at the Sportsman and enjoyed some delicious pub grub before heading off to bed to prepare ourselves for the day ahead tomorrow.
The next morning we travelled by train from Dent to Skipton before catching a quick taxi to Kettlewell. While this train trip wouldn't usually be part of the standard Dales Way itinerary, I would certainly recommend it you have extra time in the area. Dent train station is the highest mainline train station in the UK and the views from here and on the journey were pretty good! Kettlewell is a very pretty little village in Wharfedale, comprising of old lead miner's cottages, quite a few welcoming country pubs and some shops. Combine this with the sight of the rising fells all around and the pretty riverside pathways which run through it, and it makes a very pleasant stop on the Dales Way and a nice starting point for our short walk. Before heading off, we popped in to say hello to Julie at the Blue Bell Inn which is a lovely 17th Century coaching inn offering warm and cosy accommodation for walkers as well as great home-cooked food and a good selection of fine casked ales.
Unfortunately we didn't have time to sample the ales, but Julie did very kindly make us up a delicious packed lunch before sending us on our way! Our destination for this evening was Raisgill, just past Hubberholme and we were very lucky to have beautiful weather for most of the day (only to be punished the following day!). The walking on this section is very gentle and the path easy to follow and it is easy to get lost in your thoughts and not have to concentrate as you follow the meandering Wharfe across open fields and along good riverside pathways. We finally reached Hubberholme, a very tranquil little place which is home to The George Inn and the beautiful Church of St Michaels and All Angels.
After passing through Hubberholme, it was just a short stretch to Raisgill and our stop for the night at Low Raisgill Cottage. Despite today being quite a short day and very gentle, we were still more than glad to be warmly welcomed to Low Raisgill by Mrs Middleton and shown our luxurious room with the biggest bathroom I have ever seen with a lovely big bath!! After spending some time soaking in there, Mrs Middleton drove us the 5 minutes back down the road to The George Inn for dinner which was again delicious!
The next day's walk was to take us back to Cowgill to collect the car and as we looked out the window in the morning, we knew it was going to be a long day! It was not long after leaving Raisgill that the scenery began to change, becoming much more remote and being surrounded by Yockenthwaite Moor and Horse Head Moor.
One of the last signs of civilisation before you come to the extremely isolated Cam Houses is Nethergill Farm - unfortunately we didn't have time to stay here, but would highly recommend it - stunning location and the owners made us feel more than welcome on our quick visit! This next section is where the rain really hit us and unfortunately, we could not see much apart from sleet as we made our way through Cam Houses and Cam High Road, despite a brief respite in the forest plantation to sit down and eat lunch. Despite the weather, I really enjoyed this walking - while some may find it quite bleak, I found it very refreshing and it gives you a real sense of isolation - especially as we didn't meet another soul for the whole day!!
Having said this, we were very glad to spot Dent Viaduct in the distance and know that we were coming to the end of this long day, and it was nice to meet the river and some sort of civilisation again as we entered Cowgill. Despite only having done a couple of days on the Dales Way, I feel that I got a real feel for the walk and only wish I could have carried on to the Lake District - but that's for the next trip! Even though I was walking with a friend, I never once felt like I could have got lost and it is such a nice walk to just switch off and enjoy the scenery without having any very taxing climbs or rough terrain to cover, so for that reason believe it really would be the perfect walk for first time long distance walkers. For further information about walking the Dales Way do not hesitate to visit the Macs Adventure Website...