A Dales High Way

Date walked: 10/10/2021

Time taken: 5 days

Distance: 163km

Ascent: 5242m

Since doing the Dales Way in October last year I've wanted to come back to this area and walk A Dales High Way. The two long distance walks follow roughly similar routes through the Dales but this walk is decidedly "lumpier" and a much tougher test.

Looking at the route, it seemed to fit nicely in to a 5 day walk with a fairly long final day (for October with limited day light) so having already completed the Moray Coast Trail and the Formartine & Buchan Way this year it was time for a 3rd and final long distance walk in 2021.

The starting point for this walk is Saltaire on the outskirts of Bradford. Built by the Victorian wool baron Sir Titus Salt to house his workers from the newly opened Salts Mill in 1853 the town is well worth spending time in but alas I had to make a start to my walk.

Day 1

Saltaire - Skipton

Miles - 19.4
Ascent - 832m
Moving Time - 06:12
Stopped Time - 00:39
Moving Ave - 3.1 mph
Overall Ave - 2.8 mph

It was a beautiful morning, fairly warm for October and clear blue skies overhead as I started opposite the town hall on Victoria Road and headed down to the Leeds - Liverpool canal. The walk along the canal bank only lasts for about 15 minutes and it was tempting to carry on towards Skipton but I didn't want to deviate from the route so early in to the walk so headed off over the River Aire and then through a small housing estate before linking up with a good path which gained height through Trench Wood.

With a little bit of height gained I was quickly on to the moors starting with Bingley Moor followed by the much busier (it was a Sunday) Ilkley Moor. The views down to Ilkley and the long valley were well worth the effort and I continued on to Rombalds Moor, Addingham High Moor and Skipton Moor before dropping down to Skipton itself.

A good distance for day 1 to stretch the legs with a fair bit of climbing but I knew that this would be my easiest day of the five.

Saltaire Town Hall - start of walk

Looking down Victoria Rd towards the canal


Tethered goat at a farm

Looking back towards Ilkley (where I started the Dales way last October)

Day 2

Skipton - Settle

Miles - 21
Ascent - 1193m
Moving Time - 07:35
Stopped Time - 00:39
Moving Ave - 2.8 mph
Overall Ave - 2.5 mph

Another blue sky day mirroring the day before. The first part of the walk climbs through two fields before crossing the bypass and heading through a golf course - familiar territory from Lady Anne's way 2 years ago. When joining a lane at the bottom of the golf course Lady Anne's Way heads right and I head left following the lane, a couple of fields, another lane, a farm track and a decent path to the top of Sharp Haw. From about a mile away I could see something really bright at the top of Sharp Haw and when I got to the top I discovered the shiniest bench I've ever seen. Less enjoyable was the view of the remains of a dead pheasant positioned on the top of the trig point - not sure why someone would do this???

The walk off Sharp Haw was straight forward but half way down there was a really boggy section that couldn't be avoided and my boots disappeared below the mud so things were a bit damp for a while afterwards.

I passed through Flasby and Hetton before heading up Moor Lane, a long straight gradual climb which eventually gave me good views down to Winterburn Reservoir. The track lost height then there was a never ending gradual climb that eventually topped out at Weets Top before a steep descent on track and then lane brought me out at Gordale Bridge. It would have been easy to visit Gordale Scar but I decided just to crack on with the final mile over to Malham Cove. After stopping for 5 minutes to take in the view I followed the track through Watlowes dry valley, again familiar territory as this is a part of the Pennine Way but the familiarity ended as the Pennine Way headed off towards Malham Tarn and my route headed to Kirkby Fell. The crowds of Malham Cove are forgotten and again I have the moors to myself. The walk from here to Settle is straight forward but the descent down to Settle on a grassy path is steep but thankfully it is dry.

Another really enjoyable day in good weather with great scenery. Climbing over a 1000m was a surprise as there were no hills of any great note today but the climbs were long and frequent.


And Again

Bench at top of Sharp Haw

Trig point with dead pheasant..............

Winterburn Reservoir

Dropping down to Gordale Bridge

Malham Cove

Watlowes Dry Valley - Pennine Way section

Day 3

Settle - Gearstones (nr Ribblehead)

Miles - 17.4
Ascent - 979m
Moving Time - 06:18
Stopped Time - 01:00
Moving Ave - 2.8 mph
Overall Ave - 2.4 mph

A change to the weather today and going by the forecast, possibly the next few days. If the forecast is correct the grey blanket of early morning cloud should be with me for most if not all of the day.

A flat start through fields with mainly sheep in them so I was able to cover a few miles before the first climb of the day - after Little Stainforth. The climb is up a farm track then an open grassy area before dropping down in to Feizor. For a small village there was a really nice cafe but too early in the morning for me to think about stopping. At the high point of the climb before dropping down to Feizor there were great views over to Pen-y-ghent.

After Feizor the walking was easy through Wharfe and on to Crummack Farm. After the farm it was a good grass track heading steadily uphill passing through a limestone pavement before reaching the Three Peaks route up to Ingleborough. I wondered if the route would now be busy but I passed a group of four and didn't see anyone else till I reached the top. A couple of steep bits but the climb was easier than I expected.

There would be no views from the top today, completely clag bound so no views out to Morecambe Bay (as I stood around in the clag a woman was telling me about the views I should have had had it been a nice day!). A quick pit stop for some grub and time to head down on the Chapel - le - Dale path. This side of the hill seemed to be much steeper and on the wet rocks I had to be careful on the way down especially once the rain started.

I was staying in Gearstones so I had a few miles to cover on the road. A bit of traffic around and a lot of spray in the wind and rain, Ribblehead Viaduct appeared out of the gloom but not a day to go for a wander. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow morning when I return.

Leaving Settle

Resident of a farm at Feizor

Looking back at Feizor

View over to Pen-y-ghent

A welcome to my next field

Clapper Bridge over Austwick Beck

Heading up Ingleborough

Ingleborough Summit

Ribblehead Viaduct in the distance

Day 4

Gearstones (nr Ribblehead) - Sedbergh

Miles - 18.9
Ascent - 935m
Moving Time - 06:32
Stopped Time - 00:35
Moving Ave - 2.9 mph
Overall Ave - 2.6 mph

The rain of last night has gone but it's another grey start with low cloud hanging over most of the surrounding hills. Started by walking back down the road to the Ribblehead Viaduct where I took a few photos but they are pretty poor in the dim light. This was one spot where I was hoping for some good weather but not to be so I moved on towards Bleamoor Sidings. The track then starts to climb and after a few minutes it's decision time - either stick to the Dales High Way route or head up Whernside? In truth, there was never really a decision to take, I was always going to head up Whernside even with the knowledge that there would be absolutely no views.

Like Ingleborough, I found Whernside an easier climb than I was expecting. The gradient was very steady and I was able to keep a decent pace all the way to the top with the last few hundred yards feeling absolutely flat. There was even less visibility than Ingleborough yesterday so I wasn't hanging about and headed back down the hill after a quick couple of photos. I stopped at the point where a track comes in more from the Dent direction and considered taking that route down but in the conditions decided it was better to stick with what I knew accepting that this would increase the mileage and climbing.

Once back on the Dales High Way it was a good walk over the moor and down to Dent. Dent is just a stunning little village and for the second time in 12 months I had the place to myself. I was able to take loads of photos with not a single person to be seen.

A mile after Dent I crossed Barth Bridge and there was then a steep climb out of the valley floor up on to Long Moor. Now the Howgills come in to view and I get an idea of the steep climb that I will kick off with tomorrow morning.

The path down to the edge of Sedbergh was pretty wet in places but not a problem.

Ribblehead Viaduct

Bleamoor Sidings

Leaving the Dales High Way to head up Whernside

The flat walk to the summit

Summit of Whernside

The vew from Whernside towards Ribblehead - or was it Dent?

Heading towards Dent

Definitely heading in the correct direction


Looking back to Dent

Tough start tomorrow!

Heading towards Sedbergh

Day 5

Sedbergh - Appleby

Miles - 24.6
Ascent - 1303m
Moving Time - 07:39
Stopped Time - 00:20
Moving Ave - 3.2 mph
Overall Ave - 3.1 mph

I was walking before 8am this morning and on another dull cloudy morning it was fairly gloomy as I left Sedbergh and started the immediate climb into the Howgills. The path from the outskirts of the town for the first few hundred yards is really steep then it improves and is just steep. Eventually I climbed over a rise and could see Arant Haw ahead and pleasingly my route was just to the right of it and while still climbing the gradient was now much easier. This was a tough start to the morning.

Eventually Calders came in to view and although the gradient increased again I was at the top after a couple of twists and turns of the track. It was noticeable on the higher ground that the wind was much stronger today and it was in to my face as I headed towards The Calf. By this point I had the wind to contend with and I was back in clag. As I circled round the top of The Calf I had the distinct impression I was heading in the wrong direction even although my route notes, compass and Garmin all said otherwise. This nagged away at me for ten minutes before I started walking again and although the path was indistinct I was definitely heading in the correct direction (it must have been the wind and the fog but after I climbed to the top of The Calf I had the distinct impression I had gone round in a complete circle and was basically heading back where I had come from). Although I had managed to convince myself I was exactly where I should be it was good to get below the clag and see the ridge walk clearly in front of me for several miles. Really enjoyed this part of the day and it was disappointing when the track finally dropped down and that would be the end of the higher ground for the day.

Now it was a couple of miles of tarmac on a really quiet road that took me through Newbiggin on Lune and on to a small section of path that I am very familiar with as it is part of the Coast to Coast route. My familiarity lasted for about a mile and a half before my route headed towards Great Kinmond and then dropped down through some fields before reaching a beautiful little village called Great Asby.

By now I was down on lower farm ground and it was a case of walking through a number of fields while keeping close to Hoff Beck. After crossing over a road in the tiny village of Hoff the route continued through fields following the beck before a bridge crossing. I should have spotted a stile immediately to my right once over the bridge but I was so focused on the path I marched on past it and climbed through Rachel's Wood before realising my mistake. Decided to continue on and after another two fields I found a grassy lane that took me to the edge of Appleby just a few hundred yards from where I should have come out. A fifteen minute walk took me to the town centre and the end of the walk.

It was only when I finished that I realised I hadn't stopped today other than to check maps and to take some photos. I was trying to push it along as 24 miles in mid-October somewhere you don't know is a long day and I wanted to finish in daylight rather than with the head torch on in darkness.

Another good tough days walking.

View looking back from top of Calders

The Calf Trig Point

Out of the mist and now able to see the track ahead of me

I'm a sucker for old rusted tractor photos

Church in Great Asby

Autumn colours - approaching Appleby

This walk definitely feels like the big brother to The Dales Way. A lot more climbing involved but the same fantastic scenery. Having done the Coast to Coast (twice), The Pennine Way, Lady Anne's Way, The Dales Way and now A Dales High Way my options for visiting this part of the country are reducing unless I can find another long distance walk heading this way.............

Five days was about right for me, giving me an average of just over 20 miles per day. The guide book mileage is 90 miles but I added on Whernside and one of my overnight stays was a couple of miles off the route adding on further additional mileage.

Signage is good most of the time but can't be completely relied on and there were a number of places where the guide book proved useful. In poor weather, the route over the Howgills can be avoided as there is a low level alternative. If like I did, you choose to take the high level route it is well worth having GPX on your phone or Garmin and even with this I still had to check my compass a couple of times where the route was difficult to follow and I wanted an extra bit of reassurance.

Overall, I enjoyed this more than The Dales Way but would happily repeat either route as they are both brilliant.

Now, where to next year..............???

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Location: Nr Forfar
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Ideal day out: I love a long walk into a good hill (doesn't need to be a Munro)

Munros: 114
Corbetts: 64
Grahams: 27
Donalds: 38
Wainwrights: 24
Hewitts: 30
Sub 2000: 35
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Borders Abbeys Way    Cateran Trail    Dava Way    Fife Coastal Path    Formartine & Buchan Way    Great Glen Way    John Muir Way    Moray Coastal Trail    Speyside Way    St Cuthbert's Way    Rob Roy Way   

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Joined: Sep 06, 2012
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