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A marriage of exquisite scenery and ancient history — hiking Lady Anne's Way

Mike Freedman (CC-BY-SA/2.0)

A marriage of exquisite scenery and ancient history — hiking Lady Anne's Way

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

7-14

days

3-6 h

/ day

99.1 mi

6,950 ft

6,900 ft

When Lady Anne Clifford gained her rightful inheritance in 1643 she embarked upon a momentous and laborious project: to return her great family’s holdings to their former glory. This was no easy feat, as the said holdings were in fact a multitude of expansive estates. Her family’s ancient castles and regal halls stretched from Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales to Brougham in what was then Westmorland, now Cumbria.

It was at the age of 60 that the determined Lady Anne began this epic, ambitious plan. The travels between her family’s many fortresses would take her into the limestone splendour of the Dales; on rugged, windswept highways across the fellsides; to staggeringly beautiful valleys; and finally, to the Eden Valley. It was here at her favourite Brougham Castle, to the south of Penrith with the mountains of the Lake District in the west and the high Pennines in the east, that she died in 1676.

Lady Anne’s Way is a long-distance walk of 100 miles (161 km) that follows in her determined footsteps. It is a journey bursting at the seams with both history and scenic splendour. You’ll explore the wonders of Wharfedale and Wensleydale and ramble across the high wilds of Mallerstang, before finishing in the verdant Eden Valley.

The Way was born in 1995 when passionate long-distance hiker Sheila Gordon had the idea of putting it together in tribute to Lady Anne. She was excited by the wealth of experience and sights that would greet its walkers. You can expect defiant, ruined castles braving the elements; vast, open Pennine moorland; picturesque towns and villages that welcome you with friendly northern hospitality. A new panorama awaits you beyond every pass, meander and fellside. It’s a near-perfect marriage of history and scenery.

In this Collection, I have split the Way into six stages of between 12 and 20 miles (19 and 32 km) in length, in keeping with the itinerary originally suggested by Sheila. However, there are many towns and villages offering accommodation en route, so you can take things at your own pace. Advance booking is recommended as this is popular walking territory.

Where it can, the Way makes for the fellsides and high moors, which is particularly evident during the first four stages, each containing over 1,250 feet (381 m) of elevation gain. However, gradients are mostly kind, the route is waymarked and it stays on good trails throughout.

This makes it a route suitable for most walkers, with the main challenge simply the length of some stages. You can stock up on provisions regularly in the many villages en route and you’re never that far from a pub or a café.

Each season brings its own character to the walk, though the moorland sections in the first four stages are likely to be challenging in the depths of winter. The long daylight hours of summer are a boon during the lengthier stages. Regardless of month or forecast, waterproofs are essential, as well as sturdy walking boots.

Reaching Skipton is straightforward by car, as it is at the junction of various A roads. By train, it is most easily accessed from Leeds. Penrith is on the M6, as well as the West Coast Mainline. To return to the start point by train, change at Carlisle and catch the Leeds train to Skipton — a lovely journey on the famously scenic Carlisle to Settle line.

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Lady Anne's Way

97.8 mi

6,975 ft

6,925 ft

Last updated: November 15, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    06:39
    15.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,300 ft
    975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This is a delightfully scenic journey from Airedale to the banks of the glorious River Wharfe, through some quintessentially picturesque Dales villages. Of historical interest en route is Barden Tower, one of the fortresses Lady Anne set out to restore in the 17th century.

    At 15.1 miles (24.3 km) and

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:40
    12.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage ventures further into Wharfedale, where the surrounding fells close in and the villages ooze yet more Yorkshire charm. Lovely limestone scenery starts to make itself known as you head out across the fellsides.

    At 12.8 miles (20.6 km), this is the shortest stage in this Collection, though it

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:58
    17.9 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    In this stage you bid farewell to Wharfedale and stride up onto the windswept emptiness of Stake Moss on your journey into Wensleydale. Lady Anne may have taken respite at the grand Nappa Hall after this, but your day continues to the west to the delightful town of Hawes.

    This is one of the longer stages

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:30
    17.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Wonderful hillwalking awaits on this glorious stage from the pastures of Wensleydale into romantic Mallerstang. The high-level walk along the Highway boasts huge panoramas as you cross from Yorkshire into Cumbria. History and legend combine at the ruins of Pendragon Castle and you can admire a statue

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    06:54
    16.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    600 ft
    725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Easier walking in beautiful surroundings awaits you on this stage of Lady Anne’s Way. You ramble through the lush Eden Valley to Appleby, with a couple of Lady Anne’s ancient castles en route and views ahead to the broad Pennines, as well as to the fells of the distant Lake District in the west.

    From

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    08:25
    20.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    675 ft
    700 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage of Lady Anne’s Way takes you to the favourite of all her castles and the place where she spent her final days at Brougham, near Penrith. You visit gorgeous villages that seem a far cry from everyday urban cares en route and enjoy magnificent views of the High Pennines and the distant

    by Alex Foxfield

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    99.1 mi
  • Duration
    43:06 h
  • Elevation
    6,950 ft6,900 ft

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A marriage of exquisite scenery and ancient history — hiking Lady Anne's Way

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