Tilly On The Dales High Way – Part One

Having done the Dales Way many moons ago, I have been vaguely intrigued by the Dales High Way now for quite a while. This long distance route runs from Saltaire, near Shipley, to Appleby-In-Westmorland – a total of 90 miles. With the normal constraints of work etc, I started thinking about completing it over several (although not consecutive), weekends.

When I really started looking closely at it though, I wasn’t that keen on walking the very first section, from Saltaire to Skipton. This bit goes over Ilkley Moor – which I’ve never really had a fondness for – and is also relatively suburban in nature. And although I like long distance walks, I’m not a fanatical purist about covering every single inch of them, so I decided I’d start from Skipton instead.

We drove up on the Friday evening and wild camped with the van just north of Skipton, and then Geoff dropped Tilly and me off on the Grassington road on the Saturday morning. Our plan was to walk to Settle over the next two days.


The weather had conveniently worsened for the weekend and was considerably cooler and damper than of late, which meant setting off in waterproofs.

Tilly didn’t care though.


She was carrying 3kg in her panniers. Two lunches, dinner, a Jumbone, breakfast, two microfibre towels (she gets very mucky and wet on a wander) and her coat (pyjamas).

Today’s route initially went past Sharp Haw and Rough Haw,


and then dropped down to the village of Flasby.


The next couple of miles went through some pretty fields and meadows alongside Flasby Beck, before bringing us out in the village of Hetton. I have to say, though, that this part of the route did try my patience! Most of the field boundaries were crossed by stiles which were too narrow for Tilly to go through with her panniers on! Poor dog; she was exceedingly good at standing still while her mum repeatedly took panniers off, put panniers back on, and all the while muttering obscenities about ‘non-dog-friendly’ stiles. There were also several ladder stiles which were too steep and high for her to get up without help, and likewise then too high for her to even want to try and jump down from on the other side. And I can tell you, that standing on the top of a high ladder stile whilst carrying a heavy pack, next to a shaking Labrador who’s practically hanging on to you, is not the nicest place to be!


Anyway, we finally made it to Hetton, where we turned left up Moor Lane.


The lane is arrow straight and finally brings you out on to Hetton Common.


These four miles are a gradual ascent from Hetton to Weets Top (414m).


Tilly loves plastic bottles and it’s a sad reflection of our world that no matter where we walk, she always finds some.

As we got progressively higher, Tilly started to slow down a little.


And at one point she looked positively weary.

She got a bit of a second wind though, when she found a good stick.


The Dales High Way is not particularly well way-marked. It doesn’t make any difference to me personally, but I’ve always thought that if you are going to way-mark something, you may as well do it properly and not half-heartedly.


Weets Top was finally reached,


and from here it was just five minutes down the road to Goredale Scar campsite.


I’d booked us in here for the night, as the route didn’t particularly lend itself to wild camping. Anyway, Tilly learnt lots of new skills camping on a site. Like sitting quietly while being tied to a tree,


and sitting still in the porch while sheep wandered around outside. She also learnt how to behave nicely in the toilet block while mum went to the loo. After all, when it was raining I couldn’t leave her tied to a tree then, could I?


After her afternoon Jumbone she needed a bit of a snooze.


In the end, the weather hadn’t been too wet on the Saturday, but the wind had got stronger and stronger. And overnight, the wind and the rain got together to make for quite a wild time. I slept surprisingly well though, with just a brief disturbance in the early hours. I was in the middle of a dream about being caught in a hurricane in Florida, when I was suddenly woken at 1:15am, by someone appearing to shout for help. With the weather being as it was, I was ready to get up and see what had happened – maybe someone’s tent had blown down or something – but then I gradually realised that it was just the people in a nearby tent amusing themselves by screaming and howling like werewolves. I left it for a few minutes, hoping they’d shut up, but by 1:30 I’d had enough. I unzipped the door, got my torch, and flashed it right into their tent for half a minute. Then, I shouted at the top of my voice, ‘Excuse me! Some people are trying to sleep here!’ Believe it or not, everything went suddenly quiet, and Tilly and I were able to go back to the land of nod……..

By the morning, the stormy weather was well and truly set in. There was no hurry for us to set off early so we waited to see if things would calm down, but they didn’t, so we adjusted our plans for a Foul Weather Alternative (mainly roads), across to Settle and set off around 10:00am.

Shortly after setting off, Tilly found herself another plastic bottle to carry, and I was rather mystified by the fact that carrying a Lucozade Sport bottle – rather than any other random bottle – definitely seemed to make her go faster.


Well, photos were few and far between on our wet and windy route over to Settle. And as I crested the route and finally got a mobile signal for the first time over the weekend, I picked up a text from Geoff saying he was already waiting for me in Settle and suggesting I give him a call. I did. He was curious to know that if he happened to drive past us in the next few minutes, would we be interested in getting in the van???

And so, three miles short of Settle, Geoff’s tea van (once described by James as ‘possibly the best tea van in Yorkshire’),  stopped alongside us and we climbed aboard. Well, it would have been rude not to.


19 thoughts on “Tilly On The Dales High Way – Part One

  1. Carrying a Lucozade bottle increases speed? I wonder if that works for humans too? (Not sure what I’d do with the Lucozade however – when I was a kid it was something we were given when we were ill and I haven’t touched it since.
    I’ve never heard of the Dales High Way and I’m looking forward to reading more about it as you walk it.


    1. Funny isn’t it? She must have seen it on adverts, but I never realised she could actually read that well…….

      The Dales High Way is very new really, it was only set up in 2007. Not sure when my next stint on it will be mind – probably in the autumn the way weekends are booked up at the moment! Should be a good section next though, as it goes over Ingleborough – great for a proper wild camp 🙂


  2. How awful about those rowdies on the campsite – that’s the trouble with campsites though isn’t it – I never really use them (although I have been known to sleep nearby and sneak into their toilet block the next morning! – naughty)… Also a shame but very true about the ubiquitous plastic bottles everywhere 😦

    I actually love Ilkley Moor and really like the bit between Baildon and Addingham – I was on there just the other week doing a walk. Sharphaw and Roughaw are my regular stamping grounds – if I hadn’t been away, I might have bumped into you!


    1. I hadn’t realised you were so close to there, Carol!

      Yes it’s a shame about the noise you seem to get on campsites everywhere. Even more of a shame on Saturday night, as it was such a lovely setting there in the mouth of Goredale Scar; a pleasant place to pitch up really.


  3. Have to say that I’m not a fan of campsites myself anymore, far too grumpy for that sort of thing! Rich and I had a cracking day on the Friday in the Dales. It turned out to be a day of sun and blue skies. Did not pitch until gone 9.30pm. Sat was a bit damp in the morning though…………..

    Good to see that Tilly is getting along with her backpacking training!


    1. It’s years since I stayed on a campsite in a tent (the odd night in the van isn’t too bad as when you shut the door you could be anywhere), and the passage of time always dims the memories of stuff like that. The next section has a wild camp on Ingleborough though, so that should be better.

      Tilly is doing very well with her backpacking training, although Dixie is getting jealous and turned her back on me when we got back!

      Glad you had a good night – think you might have had the better one weather wise 🙂


  4. Amazing, Tilly is very adapt at learning her new hill going skills. Dixie must have spent some time coaching her? Fantastic photos as always.


    1. You’ve come through on a different name, Dawn!

      Yes, Tilly’s doing very well – I’m very proud of her. Dixie has been giving her plenty of tips of course. Being the ‘old hand’ that she is and having done the Pennine Way, she’s got plenty of knowledge that she likes to pass on…


  5. Fabulous post Chrissie, such an enjoyable read – it’s like I was right “there”. I’ve heard of Shipley, Skipton and Ilkley Moor from one of my favorite films, “Calendar Girls”. Your story about being awakened in the wee hours was wonderful – I don’t think you and I would need to take an assertiveness training seminar. ;^) Great big virtual hug and chop kisses and some of Wyatt Earp’s Scoobie snacks for Dixie and Tilly!


    1. I never thought about those places being internationally famous after the ‘Calendar Girls’, though perhaps I should have known better!
      As far as being assertive with those guys is concerned, I certainly find that the older I get the less tolerant I am with stuff like that!
      Dixie and Tilly enjoyed their Scoobie snacks thanks, and send a Jumbone to Wyatt Earp 🙂


  6. I remember hauling my dog over ladder stiles, and you’re right, barbed wire is the work of the devil. I just don’t get it. Evil stuff.
    I used to live just down the road from Ilkley Moor so I know what you mean. It never really had a place in my heart either. I always used to head to Wharfedale, much better walking.
    By the way is that a Terra Nova Voyager? I’ve just bought one (waiting for it to be delivered). Off wild camping with my son this weekend and I needed a lightweight 2 person tent. They any good?


    1. I was at uni at Leeds and seemed to be spend quite a lot of time then wandering over Ilkley Moor, but it doesn’t quite hit the spot for me now.
      It is a Terra Nova Voyager tent – albeit the Superlite version. Geoff and I had an ordinary Voyager for many years and thought it was wonderful, so when the time came for an update, we decided to go for the lighter version that they’d just brought out. We must have had it about 7 years now. (The current Superlite version is actually even lighter than this model we’ve got.) I’ve no complaints about it at all, and it has been just brilliant when I’ve had it out in wild weather. I have changed the tent pegs though to something a touch more substantial. It’s also just about light enough for me to carry on my own – and I just love having all that space to myself!
      I have been wondering recently whether to get myself something smaller and lighter, but the way it stood up to the weather last Saturday night made me realise again that it’s very nice having something you have faith in!


      1. New tent arrived today so had a play in the garden, looking forward to a proper test in the hills at the weekend. Those pegs they provide look astonishingly flimsy though, might have to use some alternatives


          1. Thanks Chrissie, my larger tent is a Lightwave which has some reasonably lightweight pegs, but those look better. Have to seek some out online.
            Post should be up within the year…..


  7. Hi Chrissie, I received the guidebook for this trail at Christmas. Yet to find time to do it, but it also struck me that I could do sections quite easily, just hopping on and off the train – when I get around to it!


    1. Hi Mark, yes, it seems to fit quite easily into weekend kind of sections, and not too far away for us for Geoff to do a bit of b&b support either! Hoping to maybe get the next bit done in the autumn 🙂


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