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.
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!