Tuesday 30 May 2017

Dales Way, Part one

This was the second part of my mad idea, two fairly straight forward walks, back to back, almost! Back from the first walk, a day or two sorting things out, restocking on gas and food and then away again on the Tuesday morning.
This time I was heading for Ilkley and the Dales Way. Arriving in Ilkley early afternoon to find the weather warm and pleasant. The start is a very easy route to follow. Beginning at the Old bridge over the river Wharfe the path predominantly keeps close to the river. Surprisingly once I got a few miles up stream, I saw few people out. With the recent dry weather the river was very low in places. Mind, the surrounding woods and pastures remained lush and green.
Approaching Bolton Bridge, the path takes to the main road for a few hundred yards. That was something of a nightmare, I almost got side swiped by a speeding van. By the time I reached Bolton Abbey, time was running on and I was getting tired. There had been a sign up at the bridge indicating a campsite. Walked up to the Abbey, saw a group of caravans and camper wagons in a field behind the car park. Wandered over but was informed in no uncertain manner that they were a private club and the field was for their exclusive use. It would have been nice to have a wander about but after a round of verbal from a group of youths, predominantly teenage girls, I headed back to the river and found a stealthy spot for the tent.
Supper was mainly fluids and a bit of cake, I was tired and not that hungry. Surprisingly there were only a few midges around.
Wednesday morning I was up and away early..The Bolton Abbey estate appears to cover a vast area. It was quite gentle walking on well made tracks through verdant woodland, always with the river for company.
The abbey trust had laid out numerous tracks and trails for for folk to explore. Maybe due to the early hour, but there was not another soul about.
The air was alive with birdsong, swallows dived low over the water catching insects on the wing.
It felt good to be striding out in shorts and tee shirt. Strid wood is a lovely mixture of mature deciduous trees, including a large amount of sessile oaks. They certainly look their best at this time of year.
The Strid itself is an extremely narrow gorge, or cleft in the rock formation were the river is forced through. Apparently people have died trying to swim in its pools or attempting to jump over the narrow gap. It must be awesome when the river is in spate!

Beyond the Strid the path crosses the river over quite an impressive bridge. It is actually a viaduct carrying water from Nidderdale to Bradford. Got a hesitant nod from two bird watcher types as I passed them at Barden Bridge and wished them a 'good morning'! This is too good an area to hurry through, especially on such a fine day.
Burnsall has a fantastic tea shop, well frequented by cyclists. Coffee and poached egg on toast went down very well. Back on the path it was amusing to see a lady having mild hysterics as she scolded her husband for allowing the pampered pooch to jump in the river for a swim. From what I could hear, the dog had just that morning been to a doggy beauty parlour for a shampoo and set? The dog got a big thumbs up from me. Good on it, may it forever do what comes naturally!
It was straight forward walking from there to Grassington. The bank holiday had certainly brought the crowds out. Stopped by Linton falls, hoping for a quiet snooze, eventually though I gave up.
Grassington was awash with folk, the tea rooms where overflowing, the ice cream wagons were doing well and the pubs were heaving. It was a bit too much for me and I hurried through. A mistake, I ought to have picked up some sun block. Picking up 3 litres of water from a very nice lady out pottering around her garden. It was then a slow uphill plod on to the high ground above Grassington. This is limestone country, hence me picking up water in Grassington. After a mile or so I called it a day and set up camp.
It was a fine spot for a camp too. The sheep were friendly, dropping by to have a nose and wandering off again. Copious amounts of fluid were consumed and a wee amount of snoozing too. So far I seemed to be holding up ok, a few aches and pains, a wee bit of a wobbly earlier in the day but everything still functioning!
Thursday morning there was a heavy dew but with it came the promise of a really nice day.
Some fine walking over toward Kettlewell. This is a really nice area and one to be enjoyed. Picked up a few bits in the village shop, unfortunately they had no sun block.

 My one concern was were I could camp that night. Possibly at Buckden? From there on up in to Langstrothdale possible spots were very limited. It was still early when I reached Buckden. An icecream and a restock of more fluids and I pushed on. There were a couple of places I knew of. The one I had in mind was close to Beckermonds, a fairish way up the dale.  It made for a long day but I reached the place I had in mind, just out of direct sight of the road.
 Another heavy dew overnight and stuff I had washed out the night before had not thoroughly dried meant starting a little later than intended.
From Beckermonds up to Oughtershaw is road walking. The road was quiet though and was no great hardship.
It is interesting to note that the old school and chapel at Oughtershaw has submitted planning application to turn the place in to hostel/bunkhouse and to remove some later extensions made to the place. From what I can recall, the sight is grade two listed. Mind, if it is done properly and extends the life of the building, well, it may be a good thing!
Accommodation can be had at Nethergill, mainly self catering, I think? There is self serve tea and coffee available worked on a honesty system, flapjacks too. It is a steady pull up to Cam Houses where I picked up another litre of water, it was getting hot! It was then a sharpish climb up on to Cam High Road. Spectacular views all round.
 Cam High Road is an ancient route. It was in use before the Romans took it over and later it was a medieval trade route. Unfortunately it has now been up graded to allow timber lorries access to it. On a hot day, with the sunlight radiating off its surface it was not pleasant walking.

 The day was turning out to be a scorcher and on the long descent down toward Far Gearstones farm I stopped for a break and promptly dozed off. Not a bad thing really. This was going to be another long day. Basically, with hospitals appointments in the latter part of the following week, I had to be out by Tuesday.  An initial steep uphill pull past Winshaw and then a steady bit of walking on to the Black Rake Road. A steady descent down through Dent Head.
For reasons I am unsure of, I blame it on the heat! I carried on through to Dent. That was a long day. A pint of lemonade at the local pub and on to the campsite. A shower, more fluids, a bite to eat and I was ready to snooze until it was time to take my night meds.


  1. Looking forward to part 2. Some good old boys there at the end.

  2. Thought you would like them Alan.

  3. A cracker of a route - but I struggled to find places to pitch when i did it a few years ago. I would probably do better these days, my stealth camping skills have improved no end in recent years.
    Roll on Part2!

  4. It is difficult to find places to camp John. Especially from Sedbergh onwards

  5. Great Dawn. Brought back memories of when me an 'er did it way back.

  6. Thank you Geoff, it is a pleasant walk.