I was on the summit of Fairfield in the Lake District when I first heard of The Dales Way. In November 2007, friends and I were sitting in bright sunshine and enjoying clear views over the surrounding fells. We had completed half of the ‘Fairfield Horseshoe‘ and as we scoffed our sandwiches, we chatted to a young New Zealander.
He told us that he had arrived in the Lake District on foot; following The Dales Way. And I decided that this was a walk that I wanted to do. What better way to arrive in Cumbria than on foot through the Yorkshire Dales?
Starting at Ilkley, the path runs for about 80 miles to finish at Bowness-on-Windermere.
It is mostly an easy, riverside walk with very few steep climbs and where it crosses remoter, wilder country, it does so quickly.
And importantly, for me, it would allow me to explore the Dales, an area I didn’t know.
In February 2012, I was finally ready to walk the Way. But as I travelled north on the train from Sussex, I was worried. The closer I got to Ilkley, the more snow I saw and the whiter the countryside. Would I be able to walk 80 miles through frozen snow and ice?
I had pre-booked all my accommodation and had allowed myself six days to walk to Bowness … and then a further four to cross Lakeland and finish at Keswick.
Here is an account of my walk:
(A brief description of this walk appears on my other blog – and won The Dales Way Association’s best blog competition. You can read it here – ‘The Anxious Gardener’).