Burnsall yorkshire accommodations

When the back of my guide book described the route as “Britain’s gentlest long distance path” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of it. Thankfully though, the Dales Way turned out to be a lovely walk and one well worth doing.

Its eighty odd miles are never hugely taxing and in the most part, well way-marked and difficult to get lost, so if you’re after an introduction to long distance walking, this is a fine one to pick. And if you do, you’ll be wanting to know some information about how to plan your own trip. Won’t you?

The Yorkshire Dales is a fantastically beautiful and attractive part of the country, but one which is often overlooked in favour of its nearby neighbour, the Lake District.

For the lower half of the route, the Dales Way follows a number of rivers before heading in to quiet moorland. With the town of Sedbergh the walker gets a fine view of the Howgills before heading through farmland and along more rivers before ending at Windermere, in the Lake District.

The walking is easy; navigation rarely anything other than easy and the route is very well waymarked. This is not a challenging walk, but the rewards are stunning.

From Ilkley to Windermere, you can see the route of the Dales Way using the map above. Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route. Note that this map is a guide only, and should not be used for navigation.

I split my walking over six days although the terrain is easy enough that many will be able to polish it off in five slightly longer days. Both options are catered for in the itineraries below.

All distances are approximate. Locations with a railway station are shown with a

Using good paths and with easy navigation, much of the route lends itself to walking most of the year round. However moorland sections in the middle will not be great in winter months. Snow will also make moorland walking difficult, and the remote dales mean that there’s a risk of being snowed in. As such if you want to do the whole thing, we suggest looking at walking between April and October.

The relative rurality of the Dales Way, and its short length, mean it’s not particularly easy to split up into sections. However it is possible to break it into two three-day walks by stopping and starting at Ribblehead station on the Settle to Carlisle Line.

Sedbergh has a few buses to Kendal, and there are also railway stations at Burneside and Staveley. However as both of these would be on the last day of walking, neither are particularly useful.

The most useful place to get information on accommodation is from The Dales Way Association who maintain an extensive accommodation list on their website. It includes hostels, bunk barns, camping and B&Bs.

With the exception of the start and end points, most of the places on the Dales Way are small villages and, as such, accommodation is not always in high supply. However there are plenty of villages between Ilkley and Oughtershaw, so you should be able to find somewhere to stay if you are flexible on your itinerary.

The only accommodation at Ribblehead is the Station Inn which offers both B&B and a bunkbarn. However Ribblehead station is just next door on the Settle to Carlisle line, which offers other accommodation options. Burneside also has frequent bus and train services to Kendal which has extensive accommodation options. which again offers plenty of options.

As a very popular walk, there are scores of operators who will book accommodation for you. There are far too many for us to mention, so we suggest a good web search using your favourite search engine. Most operators will also include baggage transfer in the price.

The following companies also provide baggage transfer services for those planning their own walk:

There are a few hostels and bunkbarns on the Dales Way. These are:

Surprisingly there are not many campsites on the Dales Way, however the Dales Way association include a list of campsites in their accommodation guide. They also report that many farmers will allow small groups to camp on their fields.

As the walk goes along several rivers, the Dales Way is pretty well served for water supplies.

Some long distance paths start and finish in places rather difficult to access. This, thankfully, is not true of the Dales Way. Both Ilkley and Windermere are well served by public transport.

Ilkley is the terminus of the Wharfedale Line. It was also the very last railway station in the country to be lit by gas, with the gas lights remaining until 1988. It is served by regular services from both Leeds and Bradford.

At the other end, Windermere sits on the Windermere branch line. Trains run roughly once an hour, mostly terminating at Oxenholme Lake District, although some trains run through to Manchester Airport. Oxenholme is on the West Coast Mainline and features services through to London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

If breaking the walk at Ribblehead, there are infrequent trains from there to both Leeds and Carlisle.

There aren’t a huge number of Dales Way guides. One of the most popular is Cicerone’s guide, by Terry Marsh and this was the one I used, and lists the route in both directions. It was last updated in published in 2018. It features Ordnance Survey maps of the route, at the 1:25,000 scale.

Also available is Colin Speakman’s Dales Way: The Complete Guide. Now in its 11th edition, which was published in 2013, this was the original guide book for the route and is regularly updated. It contains detailed maps for the whole route. The scale of the mapping is not clear, however it is at a higher scale than 1:25,000.

Newly published in 2016 is Trailblazer’s Dales Way Walking Guide. This includes walking instructions with hand-drawn maps (so you probably want a proper map too), but the true value of the Trailblazer guides for our money, is in organising your trip as they include extensive accommodation details.

Alternatively if you’d like Ordnance Survey maps you’ll need the following maps. The route is marked on them.

It provides you with a lovely guide to what you’ll find on the Dales Way.

With few major hills to climb, The Dales Way is a good all rounder and could easily be done in spring and autumn as well as summer. Being well way-marked and easy on the foot, it’s the perfect walk for the long distance walking novice, and highly rewarding with the views too.

So put your best foot forward and head to the Dales. For it’s certainly a great place to be.

And if you’ve any questions or would like some advice, do ask in the comment box below.

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