About A Dales Walk

A Dales Walk was devised by Bob Allen, a well-known author of books about walking (mainly about the Lake District, but also Snowdonia and The Dales). He first published his guide book for A Dales Walk in 1997. The route starts in Leyburn in Wensleydale, follows that dale westward to Hawes before turning north through Mallerstang to Kirkby Stephen, and then heads back east down Swaledale to Richmond. It thus ends only about 10 miles from where it starts – Bob Allen originally intended it to be a circular walk, but there were no convenient paths between Richmond and Leyburn.

A Dales Walk is between 70 and 80 miles long. The guide book splits it into six sections, so that it can be conveniently walked in a week’s holiday. At least three of the sections have both high-level and low-level alternative routes, and there are several other minor variations, which is why I am unable to specify exactly how long the walk is (I actually walked about 73 miles).

Walking through a typical hay meadow in Wensleydale, near Sedbusk (Day 2)

Although the route of A Dales Walk is restricted to just three dales, it passes through a rich variety of scenery. It sometimes follows the river at the floor of the dale, often crosses numerous hay meadows that are so typical of this area (especially Swaledale), passes through many large wall-lined pastures grazed by sheep, sometimes traverses limestone terraces partway up the hillsides bordering a dale, and also visits the high moors that bound the dales. It passes a number of places of historic interest, from the eleventh century Lammerside and Pendragon castles to the nineteenth century lead mines above Gunnerside.

‘A Dales Walk’ by Bob Allen is published by Michael Joseph, London, ISBN 0 1781 4135 0.  It is a beautiful ‘coffee table’ book, with plenty of splendid photographs taken by the author, so it is not the sort of guide book that you would want to carry with you – although the author has repeated the walking instructions on a few pages at the back of the book, so you could cut those out and take them with you. It is an enjoyable and informative read – as usual, most of the facts I quote in my journal are taken from this source.

Click here to see a very rough map of A Dales Walk (but only if you have already read my disclaimer and notes regarding maps).

Note: You can click on any of the smaller pictures in this journal to see them enlarged (click the 'Back' button of your browser to return to the journal). I have also numbered each photograph (in red) and inserted the same number in the text to show where in the walk the photo was taken.

Pendragon Castle (Day 3)