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#3462 - 21/09/05 03:48 PM Advice & Info
Merlin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 21/09/05
Posts: 6
Loc: Herts, UK
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.

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#3463 - 21/09/05 04:22 PM Re: Advice & Info
Terrier200 Offline
Member

Registered: 15/09/05
Posts: 9
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.

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#3464 - 21/09/05 06:03 PM Re: Advice & Info
lmoose Offline
Member

Registered: 22/10/04
Posts: 6
Loc: US
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.

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#3465 - 23/09/05 06:17 PM Re: Advice & Info
Slogger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 2892
Loc: West Lancs.
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?
Dave.

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#3466 - 11/10/05 01:08 PM Re: Advice & Info
Pumpkin Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 8
Am thinking of doing this walk by myself in the last week of October. Was it safe?

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#3467 - 11/10/05 01:39 PM Re: Advice & Info
bb&gg Offline
Member

Registered: 22/11/04
Posts: 93
Loc: East anglia/England
NICE ONE MERLIN, lots of usefull information that billyboy and georgygirl can use for next april.
Cheers..........bb&gg.

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#3468 - 12/10/05 01:48 PM Re: Advice & Info
Merlin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 21/09/05
Posts: 6
Loc: Herts, UK
Quote:
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.

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#3469 - 01/11/05 01:13 PM Re: Advice & Info
Pumpkin Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/05
Posts: 8
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.

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#3470 - 04/11/05 10:30 PM Re: Advice & Info
Lost Offline
Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 6
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

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#3471 - 08/11/05 01:08 PM Re: Advice & Info
bb&gg Offline
Member

Registered: 22/11/04
Posts: 93
Loc: East anglia/England
HI again, would just like to thank all who replied with info for Dales Way. Just one more Question.....is 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.
Georgygirl.
edit for STATION INN not lion inn.
[This message has been edited by bb&gg (edited 08 November 2005).]

[This message has been edited by bb&gg (edited 08 November 2005).]

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