Pete's Walks - The Dales Way

About My Walk

I walked The Dales Way at the end of June and beginning of July in 2004. I hadn’t walked a Long-distance Path since 1977, when two friends and I had walked the Coast-to-Coast, but I was keen to start walking them again. Several people I’d met on walking holidays had mentioned The Dales Way, and in particular somebody recommended it as a not too strenuous route that would be a good first walk if I wanted to return to Long-distance Paths.

When I did an internet search about The Dales Way, I discovered that HF Holidays did it. With them, you stay in one of their comfortable hotels or ‘Houses’ as they call them (in this case it was in Malhamdale), they provide a leader, and they ferry you by minibus to the start and finish of each walk. This seemed ideal for me, because with my back problems I am only able to carry a light daysack, I can’t carry all the gear I’d need if it was doing the walk entirely ‘under my own steam’. I’d met several people who enjoyed holidays with HF, so I booked up and off I went.

The other walkers in the group were a good bunch, and we had some good laughs as we made our way from Ilkley to Bowness. This was just as well, as the weather was somewhat variable, which is why I took no photos at all some days 

Picture omitted

My fellow walkers - Barbara (from Germany), Lesley, Clare, Roy (Lesley's husband), Christine, Margaret, Joanna, Jean (our leader) and Ron

I really enjoyed the walk, and enjoyed my time with HF Holidays (with the important proviso below!). The ‘House’ was very comfortable, the food was great and I could socialise with the other walkers in the evenings. I admit that it’s a very ‘soft’ way of doing Long-distance paths, but as I say, my bad back rather limits my options. My only alternative is to use one of those services that transport your luggage from place to place, but they do seem somewhat expensive (especially for a single person).

I wrote this journal in 2009, five years after the event, which is why it is somewhat vague (to say the least!). I used the few photographs I had taken to jog my memory, and also used the guide book for inspiration.

Warning Note about Long-distance walks with HF Holidays: Although I have enjoyed all of the three walking holidays I have done with HF Holidays, I am not sure whether I will do another long-distance path with them. To me, the very essence of walking a long-distance path is that it is a continuous path between A and B. HF (and to be fair, most of their customers) seem happy to miss bits of the walks out here and there. On both The Dales Way and now on A Dales Walk, there were days when the leader intended starting the walk at a different place to that where we had finished the day before, thus missing out a short section. I have had to negotiate with the leader to be allowed to walk a continuous route from start to finish (in the case of A Dales Walk, we did eventually do a continuous walk, but in so doing we missed out a short section of the official route near Hawes). I have written and complained to HF, saying that in my opinion they should walk the whole route or else make it clear in their brochures that they might not walk 100% of the route - if they advertised that they were not doing the whole route I wouldn't have booked the holiday. I wasn't overly impressed with the response I got from their Head of Walking Operations, which  said: "I think we will have to instruct our leaders to allow guests like yourself to walk the extra short sections, while at the same time allowing the majority of guest to omit the more tedious sections. As this will cause delay to those guests, we may have to review this if we start receiving complaints." So if anyone reading this is thinking of walking a long-distance path with HF Holidays, please be aware that they might not walk the whole route.