15 October 2015

My Dales Way Week

This week has been largely devoted to the Dales Way. 

I'm on the committee of the Dales Way Association, a small charity set up almost 25 years ago to promote and support the Dales Way long distance path. The route was created in 1969 by Colin Speakman and the late Tom Wilcock just four years after the launch of the Pennine Way, and like Wainwright's Coast to Coast Path (1972), has attracted walkers from all over the world ever since. Unlike the Pennine Way neither the Dales Way or Coast to Coast are National Trails so receive no funding or support from the government. Instead they are both designated Regional Recreational Routes and each section is the responsibility of the local authority it passes through. In the case of the Dales Way, travelling east to west, this is Bradford District Council, North Yorkshire County Council, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Cumbria County Council and the Lake District National Park. 

The existence of the Dales Way Association means that there is a single body that can be contacted by anyone interested in the route and liaise between walkers and the numerous authorities. On Wednesday 4 members of our small committee attended our annual meeting with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. This is an opportunity to meet with the rangers who are responsible for the path on the ground and share problems, ideas and successes.
A new section of path to keep walkers off the road outside Sedbergh
Three days later we were all together again, this time in Ilkley for the Association's Autumn Walk and Annual General Meeting.  Most of the committee, including Colin Speakman, who led the walk and chaired the meeting, were there. It was great to meet members and a tribute to their commitment that so many travel so far to join us for the day, including from Essex and Shropshire.
Colin greets walkers in Ilkley
Heading for Addingham
Finally on Monday I walked a section of the Dales Way, the climb over Cam Fell. I was with my sister-in-law, a walking newbie, who is walking the 80 miles from Ilkley to Bowness in bite sized chunks. The Dales Way is an ideal beginners long distance route, with its easy to follow riverside paths, the many villages offering refreshment and accommodation and the possibility of accessing sections by public transport. 
The river Wharfe near Burnsall
This summer we have walked from Ilkley to Buckden, catching the bus up and down Wharfedale, until this last leg over Cam required a lift to Nethergill Farm and the train home from Ribblehead. 

This section of the Dales Way is often the most daunting for walkers, including as it does the climb over wet and boggy fell to the highest point on the entire route at 520m. 
Told you it was boggy!
It is also one of the most rewarding as the watershed of England is reached and you get your first glimpse of Ingleborough, followed quickly by Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and the mighty Ribblehead viaduct.
Whernside and Ribblehead viaduct from the forestry road
I wonder what next week will bring.

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