22 November 2018

A Dales High Way - the slow way.

Most people think of a long distance trail as a multi-day walk, a week or longer spent on a coastal path or trekking from coast to coast making steady progress as they go. But being away from home and walking every day doesn’t suit everyone. 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the creation of the route we, the Friends of A Dales High Way, decided to walk all 90 miles, from Saltaire to Appleby-in-Westmorland, as a series of day walks using public transport.

We wanted to show that the trail can be walked in stages without a car. We used the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line for most of our train travel with additional bus journeys on days 3, 4, 7 and 8. On days 8 and 9 we used a local taxi firm who took us by minibus to and from Kirkby Stephen station. Mainly we walked on Saturdays although it was only essential for days 7 and 8 when we used the Western Dales bus. Here’s how we did it.

Day 1. Saltaire to Ilkley. 7.5 miles / 12.1km
Crossing Bingley Moor through heather and cottongrass - 19May2018
Crossing Rombalds Moor

We left Saltaire at 10.30 am, walking through the village to join the towpath along the Leeds Liverpool canal for a short way before climbing through Trench Wood to Shipley Glen. We headed onto Baildon Moor, then crossed Bingley Moor, Burley Moor and Ilkley Moor before descending steeply to the spa town of Ilkley from where buses and trains to Shipley, Skipton or Leeds are regular. 
Day 2. Ilkley to Skipton.  11.5 miles / 18.5 km
 The group met at Ilkley railway station, again at 10.30 am and climbed quickly back up to rejoin the trail on Ilkley Moor, continuing a long ridge walk onto Addingham High Moor before dropping steeply to the northern edge of the town of Addingham. We then crossed Skipton Moor along the line of the Roman Road before dropping steeply into Skipton. Walkers returning to Ilkley caught the bus while others took the train. This section could be shortened by finishing in Addingham, a village well served by buses.

Day 3. Skipton to Hetton 6.8 miles /10.9 km

We met at Skipton railway station at 11.00 am and climbed up to Tarn Moor and into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A steady climb over Skyrakes led to the modest summit of Sharp Haw, with great panoramic views. We crossed Flasby Fell to the tiny farming hamlet of Flasby, before an easy beckside ramble to Hetton - Calender Girls country. At Hetton we caught the bus back to Skipton railway station. This was a deliberately short section so we could use the bus between Skipton and Hetton and avoid going into Malham village which has fewer transport links.

Day 4. Hetton to Settle 12.0 miles /19.3 km 

We met outside Skipton railway station, to catch the 9.40 a.m. bus to Hetton. The walk started in Hetton, heading up Moor Lane and around the end of Winterburn Reservoir, before a long steady moorland climb to the heights of Weets Top. Then we were into limestone country, dropping to Goredale Bridge and on to the top of magnificent Malham Cove. We followed the Dry Valley to Langscar Gate, continuing to climb up to Nappa Gate and Kirkby Fell. The trail descended to Stockdale Lane, then alongside the stunning crags of Attermire Scar and Warrendale Knotts, before the final steep descent to Settle where we caught the train on the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line.
Above Malham Cove
Lunch above Malham Cove
This section can be shortened by walking into Malham to catch the bus back to Skipton.

Day 5. Settle to Horton 11.5 miles / 18.5 km

Another 10.30 am start, this time from Settle railway station. We headed north, following the river Ribble to Little Stainforth and Stainforth Force, then climb up alongside Smearset Scar and down to Feizor, with a short stop at Elaine's cafe. After passing Wharfe woods we headed down to the tiny hamlet of Wharfe, with Ingleborough dominating the view ahead. A fine walled track led us into Crummackdale, for a lunch stop at the lovely Wash Dub field.  A final climb above Crummack heads towards Ingleborough but that’s for another day. Instead we followed the trail from Sulber Nick down into Horton-in-Ribblesdale, another stop on the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line.

Day 6. Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Ribblehead 10.5 miles / 16.9 km 

We left Horton station at 9am to retrace our steps towards Ingleborough, picking up A Dales High Way again at Sulber Nick, before the steady climb to the summit of Ingleborough. We descended to the foot of Swine Tail then down the very steep, rocky path to Humphrey Bottom. At Souther Scale we cut down to Chapel-le-dale for a short break at St Leonard's Church. A gentle climb through the wooded Ellerbeck Gill led to a long traverse along the lower south-eastern flank of Whernside, with superb views of Ingleborough and Ribblehead Viaduct. Finally we left the trail by the viaduct for the Station Inn and Ribblehead station.

Day 7. Ribblehead to Sedbergh 12.8 miles/20.6 km

This was a fine long day’s walk in two halves. Leaving Ribblehead station at 9.06 am we retraced our steps alongside Ribblehead viaduct to rejoin the trail, climbing around the north-eastern flank of Whernside to Boot of the Wold, with spectacular views over Dentdale. A steep descent led us down to join the Dales Way alongside the river Dee into the lovely village of Dent - and lunch (there was an option to break the walk here). 
Dropping into Dentdale
Heading down into Dentdale
Then there was another stiff climb over Frostrow Fell, with stunning views of the Howgill Fells ahead. A steady descent brought us into the attractive market town of Sedbergh to finish at the Dalesman Inn where we caught the Western Dales bus back to Dent station, a journey only possible on a Saturday.

Day 8  Sedbergh to Newbiggin-on-Lune 11.0 mile/ 17.7 km 

We caught the train to Dent station, arriving at 09.15 am then waited for the 09.35 Western Dales bus to Sedbergh.

Leaving Sedbergh, we climbed up onto the Howgill Fells via Settlebeck Gill, along the ridge to climb again onto Calders, and finally up to the summit at the Calf. The six-mile ridge route continues north above Bowderdale, crossing Hazelgill Knott and West Fell, with superb views north across the Orton Fells. Finally we descended to Bowderdale and along a quiet lane to Newbiggin-on-Lune where we waited for our taxi to Kirkby Stephen station at Brownber Hall. We had booked an 8-seater taxi in advance and were delighted that it took less than 10 minutes and cost only £2 per person.

Day 9 Newbiggin-on-Lune to Appleby 12.7 miles / 20.4 km

We were met at 10.53 outside Kirkby Stephen railway station by the taxi which took us to Newbiggin-on-Lune.

From Newbiggin-on-Lune we crossed wild Ravenstonedale Moor to the secluded splendour of Sunbiggin Tarn, before climbing beside Great Kinmond across the spectacular limestone scars of the Orton Fells. We dropped into the Eden Valley at Great Asby, before enjoying a beckside ramble alongside Hoff Beck via Rutter Force and Hoff to finish at the delightful former county town of Appleby-in-Westmorland where again we caught the train back on the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line.
End of the trail - Appleby 9 Sept 2018
We did it! Friends of A Dales High Way at the end of the trail.

You can see the details of the trains and buses we used by following this link:
These were correct for summer 2018 but should not be relied upon if you are planning your own walk. Please check up to date information at: 

https://www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/ for info about the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line

http://www.dalesbus.org/ for bus information

http://primataxis.co.uk/ This is the taxi firm we used

www.daleshighway.co.uk  for everything you need to know about A Dales High Way