Advice & Info

Posted by: Merlin

Advice & Info - 21/09/05 03:48 PM

I’ve just completed a solo walk along the Dales Way from Ilkley to Bowness and what a glorious walk it was too! I took a rather leisurely seven walking days to complete it and the weather was generally very kind to me. Although I started off in rain and finished in rain, the intervening days were generally fine with sunny periods.
All the places I stayed along the route were perfectly acceptable and all spotlessly clean. Breakfasts varied from OK to excellent and the standard of the accommodation was generally in line with the price paid. I booked them all in advance, choosing not to run the risk of having to sleep under the stars.
This is where I stayed (prices are for single accommodation and include breakfast):
Mrs Betty Wolstenholme, 93 Little Lane, Ilkley. Cost £20. Very welcoming.
Mr & Mrs Hirst, Wharfe View Farm House, Burnsall. Cost £21. A lovely old farmhouse.
Lynn Thornborrow, West Winds Cottage, Buckden. Cost £20. Lovely tea & cake on arrival.
The Station Inn, Ribblehead. Cost £29. A little disappointing.
Mr & Mrs Playfoot, Riverview, Lea Yeat, Dentdale. Cost £30. Very well appointed.
Mrs M (Susie) Thurlby, Wheelwright Cottage, Sedbergh. Cost £25. A real character from Melbourne!
YHA Kendal, Kendal. Cost £16. 2 miles off route but right next to the Brewery Centre.
YHA Windermere, Windermere. Cost £12.50 (b’fast extra at £3.75). About 2.5 miles off route but fantastic views over lake.

Evening meals:
Ilkey. Excellent fish & chips from the chippie along the E side of New Brook Street for c. £5. Good Theakstons Best in the nearby ‘Yard’.
Burnsall. Only one eating place without prior booking - the Red Lion Hotel. Quite expensive with most main courses costing £12 - £15 but Sausage & Mash at c.£10 was very adequate.
Buckden, Having seen a rather negative comment with regard to the Buck Inn on this forum, I decided to eat at the Village Restaurant which was absolutely fine. Starter, main course, beer and an Irish coffee all for about £14.
Ribblehead. The only place is the Station Inn – disappointing except for the views from the garden.
Dentdale. The Sportsman Inn at Cowgill. Excellent beer and the spicy lasagne was great. Quite how this pub manages to survive given its location I have no idea.
Sedbergh. The locals recommended the Dalesman which looked very nice but I tried the (only) Indian restaurant which was perfectly adequate.
Kendal. I had fish & chips again, just S down the road from where I was staying at the YHA.
Windermere. The Youth Hostel is rather out on a limb about 1 mile N of Troutbeck Bridge. I chose to walk (N from the hostel) about 40 mins (past the Mortal Man which is reached after 25 mins) to the Queens Head – excellent food. The confit of duck (£13 I think) was a fitting celebratory meal to end the walk.

For planning, the Dales Way Handbook 2005 (£1.50) was invaluable; both in terms of potential accommodation and travel arrangements. I used the Harvey’s Dales Way map (1:40,000) in conjunction with the Dales Way route guide; the latter was just superb and has the right amount of detail – thoroughly recommended and excellent value at £5.99 (saves buying and carrying a large number of 1:25,000 OS maps). With this one map and one route guide, I negotiated my way with relative ease. Two places to watch out though - N of Grassington, take care immediately after negotiating the well waymarked official detour around Town Head farm. The route turns left (W) at a stone wall for c. 200m to an unmarked stile through the stone wall. Then once out in the open, the track splits twice. Keep taking the higher right hand route. I also went hopelessly wrong around Staveley on the final day and ended up walking alongside the new Staveley by-pass which wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. I suggest that walkers concentrate more carefully than I just after crossing and turning NW alongside the railway line.
Note the warning in the DW handbook with regard to the crossing from Upper Wharfedale to Dentdale via Cam Houses, the highest and most exposed part of the walk. I met two walkers at the Sportsman Inn in Dentdale who were abandoning the walk because they had underestimated the difficulty of this section.
I managed to pack all my clothes etc into a 25 litre rucksack – total weight (including a 1 litre of water) about 20lbs. Personally, I wouldn’t want to carry much more than this anyway. A compact pair of binoculars was useful – not only for viewing all the birds (dippers, kingfishers, goosanders, buzzards, ravens etc) but also for spotting the stile or waymark across fields.
Mobile phone reception was extremely patchy. Only large population centres like Kendal and Windermere appear to be covered by my network operator (Virgin/T-Mobile) – there was no reception at all in the Wharfe valley after leaving Ilkley, not even in villages like Burnsall and Buckden.
I used a Garmin Extrex Legend GPS device and recorded each day’s walk as a track log. I would be happy to send the file (i.e. a *.gdb file for use in Garmin Mapsource software) containing the filtered tracks (i.e. cleaned up for wrong turnings, lunch stops and overnight accommodation detours etc) and my manually constructed routes on request. For those without the Garmin software, I would be happy to send the information in an MS Excel spreadsheet (i.e. *.xls file).
Note however:
 I took a big detour from the official route towards the end of my first day by walking around Skyreholme and the N side of Appletreewick and Kail Hill.
 Having made an overnight stop at the Station Inn at Ribblehead, I decided against re-joining the official route from Holme Hill into Dentdale via Newby Head and instead went over Blea Moor along the track which follows the railway tunnel (and past the old air shafts and spoil heaps from the original construction). As I had lots of time and the sun was shining I also detoured up Arten Gill and along ‘Galloway Gate’, dropping back down into the valley via Dent station (and, if time permits, I can recommend taking the train from there and spending a couple of hours looking around the market town of Appleby).

Hope some of this helps. Enjoy & savour every step of the way.
Posted by: Terrier200

Re: Advice & Info - 21/09/05 04:22 PM

Hi Merlin
This is excellent - lots of info, wish we'd seen this before we set off a couple of days ago. We overestimated our abilities and tried to do it in 5 days with big rucksacks and failed miserably (hence why we are back home when we should have been finishing the walk!)

Would definitely echo your warning about the bit outside Grassington - we followed what we thought was the correct route and ended up in a small wood. A local man with 2 dogs kindly guided us out and pointed us in the right direction. He explained there was lots of paths in the woods and it could be a nightmare to find your way out. He also said many people got a bit off track at this point - tho' not sure if that was just to make us feel better!

Up until then we found it well signposted but will definitely watch out for Stavely and Cam Houses sections when we try again in Spring.

We too had the handbook and the harveys map and agree with you these did the job. We also bought the Dales Way book by COlin Speakman, but whilst this was nice to flick through prior to the walk to whet the appetite, it wasn't any real use once we'd started.
Posted by: lmoose

Re: Advice & Info - 21/09/05 06:03 PM

I'm glad to hear someone else had problems outside Grassington. We started walking into the woods too-something didn't seem right so we turned around and headed back across the dales. At the time there was more of a pronounced track to the woods and very little the other way. We kept looking for stiles in the distance and that along with the small guidebook with strip maps we picked up in Ilkley kept us on the path. A great walk-we did it in May and only met one or two people along the way.
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Advice & Info - 23/09/05 06:17 PM

The path is clearly marked on the map above the woods. I can only assume you werent refering to the map, and were just continuing on the path in front of you, something weve all done. Paying attention to detail is what it is all about. Why enter the woods when it is obviously not the way?
Posted by: Pumpkin

Re: Advice & Info - 11/10/05 01:08 PM

Am thinking of doing this walk by myself in the last week of October. Was it safe?
Posted by: bb&gg

Re: Advice & Info - 11/10/05 01:39 PM

NICE ONE MERLIN, lots of usefull information that billyboy and georgygirl can use for next april.
Posted by: Merlin

Re: Advice & Info - 12/10/05 01:48 PM

Originally posted by Pumpkin:
Am thinking of doing this walk by myself in the last week of October. Was it safe?

I walked it on my own and found it quite safe. However, you may not be a 45 year old 6 foot tall bloke who is comfortable out on the hills by themselves. At the very least, always leave your planned route and ETA each day with someone who can raise the alarm if necessary. All the best Merlin.
Posted by: Pumpkin

Re: Advice & Info - 01/11/05 01:13 PM

I tried to do the walk last week but had to abandon it due to the rain. A real shame but the conditions were getting dangerous. The river had burst its banks, sudden streams formed and gushing down the hills meant I had to jump across them. Got lost just before Cam House and bumped into a shooting party!!! Then there was the fog and could only see 5m in front. Got as far as Ribblehead.

Anyway got myself to Kendal and then the Lakes for some local walks.

Despite the rain - still had a good time.
Posted by: Lost

Re: Advice & Info - 04/11/05 10:30 PM

Hi Merlin some great info here. You mentioned in your post that you would be willing to E-Mail the waypoints. My partner’s father plans to walk the route in May next year. He has a Garmin Etrex Summit and he uses Memory Map for route planning etc.. Would it be possible to send me the tracks, it would be much appreciated.

Also you didn’t say how long you took for the walk, my partners father plans to walk it solo in preparation for our c2c walk in September next year, he also plans to camp the route so would be carrying a full pack. Any ideas on how many days for a slow/steady pace, he's in no rush.

Thanks Lost
Posted by: bb&gg

Re: Advice & Info - 08/11/05 01:08 PM

HI again, would just like to thank all who replied with info for Dales Way. Just one more the STATION INN at Ribblehead the only B&B, NO OTHERS AT ALL.??
Is this itenary Easy, Hard or Average .......Ilkley,13mls to Burnsall,15mls to Buckden, 13mls to Ribblehead, 16mls to Sedbergh,15mls to Burnside, and 10 to bowness and finish.

I'm open to other suggestions, tips or advice, as Ive never done it before. Thanks again. Hope to go 1st week in july.
edit for STATION INN not lion inn.
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Posted by: AnthonyRHeath

Re: Advice & Info - 08/11/05 04:57 PM

Hi BB & GG
During the last10 years I have walked the Dales way 4 times and bits of it many times. The itinary you have set out is pretty much the one I have usually done and is quite straight forward. The pub at Ribblehead is actually the Station inn and will proberbly be your worst b&b of the week, but don't be put off,it is compensated for by the great views of Batty Moss (Ribblehead) viaduct out of your room window,(ask for a room at the back of the house, surely one of the greatest achievements of victorian engineering. Also beyond that is Whernside, the tallest of the Yorkshire dales 3 peaks. The station inn is actually on the alternative route into Dentdale, but in my opinion a far superior route than the official one. Distance wise it is about the same, but by going over a shoulder of Whernside and joining the old Craven way packhorse route the views down the full length of Dentdale are one of the highlights of the walk. Do this alternative route (better than several miles of road walking, or on lanes just skirting the road) and do stay at the station inn. If you require any info on anything to do with this walk just ask
Good luck, Robin H.
Posted by: kevanliz

Re: Advice & Info - 08/11/05 05:31 PM

Billy Boy + Georgy Girl

There is the 'Old Hill Inn' further down the road at Ribblehead. It's feasible to stay there but you are going to be adding some mileage to a day that is already on paper the hardest for you. Particularly if you get stuck around Cam Houses then the drop down into Ribblehead is along quite a badly churned up 4x4 bridleway and short road ( use right hand grass verge ). So you may not be in best mind for another few miles.

If you are though the path behind the Station Inn runs along the bottom of Whernside and back down right behind the Old Hill Inn. You can use same path next day to get back up to the Viaduct and then around the edge of Whernside to drop down into Dentdale

The alternative route around Whernside mentioned by Anthony was, for us, the best part of the walk.

There were a few points where you question if you are on the right path - mainly due to it's lack of use but the views across to DentHead are wonderfull. I think it is the only place you could stop enroute and get a full 360 degree vista of glorious scenary

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Posted by: AnthonyRHeath

Re: Advice & Info - 08/11/05 06:46 PM

Just a thought regarding Kevanliz's comment on the 4x4 track. This is actually a well preserved Roman road built by Julious Agricola nearly 2000 years ago and tragically it has deteriorated more in the last 20 years due to 4x4 use than in the previous 2000. Enjoy it while you still can
Robin. H.
Posted by: kevanliz

Re: Advice & Info - 09/11/05 10:37 AM

Some people we met last year stayed here

Gearstones. Mrs.P.Wood,
Gearstones Barn Chapel-le-Dale LA6 3AS Tel: 015242 41169 Grid Ref: 780 800
Self catering provisions can be pre-ordered.
Double 1 single 2, Sitting Room. TV. Bathroom, fully equipped kitchen No smoking

If you get really stuck, depending on the time of day/year you arrive at Ribblehead and how you feel about having to stay somewhere that is actually on the track, one option would be catch the train one stop to Horton In Ribblesdale where there is much more choice and the legendary Pen y Ghent Cafe - although here you will be competing with Pennine Wayers for accomodation
Posted by: Pumpkin

Re: Advice & Info - 09/11/05 11:25 AM

bb&gg - just before Cam House you pass a number of derelict barns. Watch out as you have to turn right at one of them via a gate and go up. I failed to see the turning despite being on the map as it was raining and the path turned in a torrential stream! Had to climb over the wall as not possible to open the gate due to the force of the water.

If you fail to see the path you are tresspassing - whcih is what happended to me and I strayed into the path of a shooting party!! Arhg! (Tip - Cam House is visable up above on the right hand side if you have gone too far). Fortunately the party directed me to Cam House and I was very very kindly offered shelter from the rain and given coffee and fed with yummy chocolate cake!

The path after Cam House is well worn and no signs for a while. Don't worry. The views would have been great but for the fog. Heavy rain and fog spoiled it a bit...BUT still recommend it. I must admit that this part of the walk is the most grim bit if you get lost and by yourself.
Posted by: Pumpkin

Re: Advice & Info - 09/11/05 11:33 AM

bb&gg - Station Inn - okay not the most fantasitc place but the staff were friendly and helpful plus the food good. Bless the dry room and the tumble drier!!!

After Ribblehead I gave up my walk due to the foul weather. Note from Buckden to Sedgburgh there is only one bus route that runs on sat and wed only. So if you get tired or other problems you are stuffed whcih is what happened to me.

Hopefully this will not happend to you but just in case....after Ribbleshead I took the train (next to Station Inn) to Dent to make the wlk to Sedgburgh shorter as feeling wet and miserable. Was told that the stop after Dent would better as its all downhill from there. (But as it was the family living next to Dent station very kindly gave me a lift to Kendal!!)
Posted by: bb&gg

Re: Advice & Info - 09/11/05 03:32 PM

Pumkin, Kevanliz, anthonyHeath,Merlin, thank you all for some very usefull info , i certainly feel a bit more at ease now.
I suppose all there is left is to get it booked. Is it better to book the Station inn(the only one), and work outwards from there.

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Posted by: bb&gg

Re: Advice & Info - 14/11/05 01:22 PM

BURNSIDE.....Just found out that the Garnett house, owners are retiring in May 2006, and it will no longer be a B&B option.
Which leaves The Jolly Anglers as the only one left to book.
Posted by: JL

Re: Advice & Info - 14/11/05 04:39 PM

Stayed at Jolly angler in May, rooms were dirty and one of our party had food poisioning from the fish pie. The worst place we stayed on the walk.
Posted by: AnthonyRHeath

Re: Advice & Info - 14/11/05 05:01 PM

The place to stay at when you reach Burneside is the Station Inn at Kendal. When you reach Burneside give them a ring and they pick you up, after breakfast you get dropped off where you were picked up. Another big advantage of this is you get the choice of dozens of places to eat in Kendal. All their details are on this site
Posted by: AnthonyRHeath

Re: Advice & Info - 14/11/05 05:09 PM

Sorry, just checked my facts and it is not the station inn it is actually Bridge House Kendall. It was formally the station masters residence.( I new it had something to do with railways) All the other info was correct
Robin H
Posted by: quinnie40

Re: Advice & Info - 27/10/08 01:37 PM

Pumpkin have you gone yet as iam leaving Ilkley this week with my boarder collie Timber maybe we will meet up
Posted by: Slogger

Re: Advice & Info - 28/10/08 04:59 PM

Take your snow shoes!
Posted by: tictag

Re: Advice & Info - 08/12/08 03:49 PM

Hi Merlin, Yes, im thinking of walking this walk in August next. And thinking of taking the older kids with me, youngest 12 yrs old. Your info has helped me in some way by means of accomodation and places to eat.

I have bought a book which tells me the complete route and hopefully will do the trick when the time is right, but will let you know if it does the job or I get that lost, ( dont want to go there).

Congrats to you for completing the walk and may all future walks be as valuable.