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Quintessential English countryside at its best — Dales Way


Quintessential English countryside at its best — Dales Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson



3-6 h

/ day

79.0 mi

5,000 ft

5,125 ft

The Dales Way is an enchanting hike through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales to the foothills of the Lake District.

Following tranquil riverside paths for the most part, the trail explores a landscape of picturesque farmland interspersed with crumbling dry-stone walls, rugged moorland, lonely fells, idyllic valleys and sleepy villages.

From Ilkley, West Yorkshire, the Way runs for 79 miles (127 km) to Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, to finish on the banks of England’s most magnificent lake.

Along the way, you pass some iconic sights including the awe-inspiring 12th-century ruins of Bolton Abbey, the gushing waters of The Strid ravine, the atmospheric Yockenthwaite Stone Circle, as well as many impressive Victorian viaducts and old buildings.

The walking is generally quite leisurely along the Dales Way. Whilst there are hills, they are gentle and yet reward you with breathtaking views. The trail is well-maintained and well-signposted, too.

Due to how remote some sections of the Way are, accommodation options and places to eat and drink are not always abundant. Whilst every stage in this Collection finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby, it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.

The most common way to walk the Dales Way is from southeast to northwest, as per this Collection. Whilst there is nothing to stop you from completing it the other way, starting from Ilkley, just outside the national park, and finishing with spectacular views over Lake Windermere, in the heart of the Lake District, is widely considered to be the best option.

In this Collection, I split the route into five stages of between 10.4 and 20.4 miles (16.7 - 32.8 km). Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.

You can enjoy these Tours at all times of year and each season brings its own unique character. I recommend sturdy footwear and waterproofs no matter what season, as well as sunscreen.

If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Ilkley railway station, typically with a change in Leeds or York, depending where you are coming from. It is then a 10-minute walk from the station to the start of the trail. To get home, you can catch the 599 bus service (or walk for 30 minutes) from Bowness Pier to Windermere railway station, which has connecting services around Britain, typically via Lancaster or Oxenholme.

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Dales Way

78.6 mi

4,900 ft

4,925 ft

Last updated: September 30, 2022

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

    Stage 1: Ilkley to Grassington — Dales Way

    16.6 mi
    2.4 mph
    875 ft
    475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This highlight-filled hike makes for a magical introduction to the Dales Way.


    The trail follows the River Wharfe through gentle farmland for the entire stage; affording level and leisurely walking throughout.


    At the village of Addingham, you pass St Peter’s Church, a 15th-century rebuild of a Norman church

    by Dan Hobson

  • Expert
    16.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,075 ft
    600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With wild scenery and sweeping views over the Dales, this is a spellbinding stage with lots of interest.


    You begin the first real ascent on the Way from Grassington as it climbs over Hill Castles Scar, Conistone Pie and Swineber Scar.


    As you hike along this rugged upland section, you are afforded wonderful

    by Dan Hobson

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  • Expert
    15.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,075 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Rugged a moorland, Victorian architecture and sleepy villages all combine on this Tour.


    From Oughtershaw, you follow the brook for a short time and then climb gradually through the remote landscape.


    You continue climbing to the highest point of the Dales Way at Cam Houses. You then follow an old Roman

    by Dan Hobson

  • Expert
    20.3 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,225 ft
    1,475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This challenging hike has more mileage and ascent than any other stage of the Way and will really test your mettle.


    The reason for the lengthy hike is because this area is very remote; places to stay are few and far between, as are shops and other conveniences. Make sure you have food and water and be

    by Dan Hobson

  • Intermediate
    9.80 mi
    2.3 mph
    775 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage of the Dales Way is a short yet rewarding hike that takes you to the glorious banks of Lake Windermere.


    From Burneside, the trail climbs gradually through farmland; following the course of the River Kent to Stavely.


    You continue through the gentle patchwork landscape to Brantfell Farm

    by Dan Hobson


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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    79.0 mi
  • Duration
    34:06 h
  • Elevation
    5,000 ft5,125 ft

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