The Dales Way

We did this trail so long ago that I can’t entirely remember which year it was! I know it was definitely an October half-term break and I think it was 1998. Anyway, since I’ve recently created a category on the blog for LDPs, I thought I’d dig the photos out, scan them in and write a ‘Dales Way’ post.

Looking back at the photos, I can’t believe the weight we must have been carrying. Our Mountain Equipment tent alone was about 3.5 kg. We also had full length standard Thermarests and Wayfarer food, rather than dehydrated.

We started the trail camping, but there was so much rain each night that we changed to B&Bs after a couple of days. At the time, it turned out to be the wettest October on record and the Karrimor Marathon (which was taking place the same week) was actually cancelled half-way through, due to the weather .

We did the route from south to north, starting in Ilkley, with the weather on that first day being pretty much idyllic for the time of year.

It was lovely sunshine as we walked into the Bolton Abbey estate.

When we reached The Strid however, we got an idea of just how much rain had already been falling in the previous days.

That night, we pitched the tent in a dry field at Appletreewick but by the next morning the scene was somewhat different.

When we got to Grassington that day, where we planned to buy some stuff for lunch, we discovered that the whole town was completely awash with most of the shops flooded out. The Dales Way route between Grassington and Buckden was also impassable, so we ended up walking all the way on the road. Even doing this we didn’t keep dry as we had to wade many sections. At one point the water was so deep and went on for so long, we hitched a lift with a passing Land Rover for about half a mile.

And just to cap it all off nicely, it threw it down all day too.

On arriving at Buckden, absolutely drenched, we just couldn’t face camping and found a heavenly B&b instead. We walked in and were met with tea and cakes, a roaring fire and a comfy room with a mega deep bath…

The next day was a long one. I seem to remember it was about 17 miles. We followed the river up from Buckden, went up onto the moors to meet up with Cam High Road and then over past Whernside and down to Dent Head. The last couple of hours was spent walking in the pitch black too, with the days being so short at this time of year. And once again it rained and hailed all day long.

And so we continued over the next few days. The weather did improve a little, although by this point we’d lost all interest in camping and stuck to B&Bs for the rest of the walk. We spent a night in Sedburgh and another in Burneside, before finally arriving in Bowness. Mind you, the mud didn’t ease up!

Crossing the M6.

Approaching Bowness.

By lunch time on the last day however, Geoff was struggling. He couldn’t pin-point quite what was wrong but was clearly not feeling altogether well. Nevertheless, he soldiered bravely on and made it to the lake side.

We didn’t think much more of it, assuming he just needed a good night’s sleep.

Once home again the next week though, Geoff really was poorly and off work. It transpired that he’d picked up Campylobacter, which is a dysentry type, food-borne  infection. It also happens to be a notifiable disease and so we had Envirnomental Health chasing us to find out which B&Bs we’d stayed in over the week, so that they could trace the source!

It was certainly a trip to remember. We had great fun, but the weather did actually make Geoff say he was never backpacking in the UK again!

12 thoughts on “The Dales Way

  1. It doesn’t ALWAYS rain in UK…..honest!
    An interesting report, I backpacked the route 2-3 years ago but found wild camping impossible – ‘proper’ campsites only I’m afraid.


    1. Hi John, thanks and nice of you to drop in. You’re right about the wild camping – we did have a couple of farm sites ear marked before we set off and were prepared to knock on farm doors as well if necessary, but the B&Bs won out anyway in the end!
      And Geoff has backpacked in the UK once more since then – he took some high school kids to Snowdonia for a few days just two years ago. Guess what…it rained! 😀


  2. Excellent retro post. I like the backpack shots. How come you are carrying twice as much gear as Geoff? I particularly like the flooded road photo’s, you should have used a kayak instead 🙂


    1. Thank you Mark. A kayak would have come in useful! Looking at the photos I was obviously carrying the whole tent on the outside of my pack – maybe Geoff was carrying the heavy food! It makes me laugh looking at it – it was obviously considered to be a backpacking tent at the time, but what a difference to what’s available today. 😀


      1. Looking back on those times and further back to the 70’s when I first started backpacking in my teen’s, you had to strap the whole of your tent on the outside, because the rest of the pack was taken up with a synthetic sleeping bag 🙂 When I was 14/15 we used to split a 3 man cotton
        Blacks Good Companion tent and that was rolled up in a bin liner and strapped on the back. Happy days !


        1. Although I was walking in my teens I wasn’t backpacking, so never had the joy of carrying a cotton tent or a synthetic sleeping bag – thank goodness! Looking back though, I can see that those heavier weights were good training for when I started to bring dog backpacking equipment along as well – even dried dog food is heavy when it’s sitting in my rucksack……


  3. I think it probably was actually!
    I also remember being so filthy, that we had to hunt out a river or stream as near as possible to the B&Bs each night, so that we could wash all the mud off our trousers before turning up on someone’s doorstep. 😀


  4. Great historical post Chrissie. I have a whole heap of trips from my past I’d love to share but I have enough difficulty keeping up with my current activities!
    Some of those flood photos are amazing, I’d have given up pretty damn quickly so I admire your persistence. I remember my first effort at backpacking in Wales, jars of jam, a few books, force ten tent, blimey that was heavy to cart around 🙂


    1. Thanks Andy. And since you brought the idea of giving up, up – I will now admit that we did come very, very close to just ringing Geoff’s dad for a lift when we arrived totally drenched and fed up in Buckden……


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