The Herriot way

The Herriot Way takes in some of the best scenery around Wensleydale and Swaledale, and is an absolutely delightful walk. It’s a circular route, so it doesn’t matter where you start and finish, but we chose Grinton. I found an Airbnb there where we could leave the car, as long as we spent the nights before and after the trip in the property – and very pleasant it was too, with a pub right next door which did decent meals.

If you’re interested in the route and would like more detailed information, Stuart Greig has written a good, pocket sized guide book.

Day 1, Grinton to Colmans Campsite at Aysgarth, 9 miles

Lovely weather, almost too hot – I altered the route slightly on this section and some of the paths didn’t exist on the ground, so a bit of heather bashing at the start – lunch and replenishing drinking water at Dent Houses – cafe for afternoon tea in Bolton Castle – cafe for second afternoon tea at the NT centre near Aysgarth Falls – the campground pitch was rather sloping, I kept sliding down the tent in the night

Day 2, Aysgarth to Hawes YHA, 10 miles

Another cracker of a day, weather wise – delightful walk following the north side of the River Ure – planned a cafe stop at Askrigg but both cafes were closed – pub break in Hawes once we got there, waiting for check in at the YHA, at 5pm – stocked up on food for the next three days – chippy tea – the smallest room ever in the history of hostelling

Day 3, Hawes to Usha Gap Campsite near Muker, 10.5 miles

A cooler day but still dry and very pleasant for walking – windy and positively bitter on the summit of Great Shunner Fell to be honest, just the sort of weather I love – an excellent breakfast in the Youth Hostel to set us up for the day – morning coffee at the cafe in Hardraw, just a mile into the route – fairly busy going up Great Shunner Fell but not so much down the other side – chatted to a couple of folk also doing the Herriot Way, but they were obviously b&b-ing it and using Baggage Transfer – lovely campsite with a reasonably stocked little shop at Usha Gap – this just happens to be the campsite where I took my first ever steps as a toddler – my parents weren’t expecting me to start wandering around on that trip and apparently I nearly ended up in the river, so had to spend the rest of the holiday tied to a tent pole – even weirder is that I do actually have little snippets of memories of all this…

Day 4, Usha Gap to Gunnerside Moor, 7 miles

Yet another hot day, although it got fresher as the day wore on – the first part of the day took us up and over Kisdon Hill – lunch break in Keld at a sort of cafe someone was running from their front door – second lunch at the ruins of Crackpot Hall – dropped down into Swinner Gill then very steeply up out the other side, definitely worth a walk through if you’ve never been – I was unsure about dropping down into Gunnerside Gill itself to camp, it was a Saturday night and I thought it might be busy etc so we found a great pitch high on the moors in the end, above the top of Gunnerside Gill – the wind had got up by then and it was a lovely night – we were expecting heavy rain by the next morning, to last all day

Day 5, Gunnerside Moor to Grinton, 9 miles

As predicted, woke to lots of wind, lots of rain and a definite chill in the air, the first rain of the whole trip so we couldn’t complain! – the previous evening we’d talked about dropping into Gunnerside Gill this morning, but with all the rain were happy to go down to Gunnerside village in the end – both cafes in Gunnerside were shut! – picked up a route on a hilly ledge on the north side of the valley and followed that to Healaugh, then dropped down to near the River Swale for the stretch into Reeth – weather had by now completely changed back to sunny and hot – a delicious Gouda and onion toastie at a cafe in Reeth, followed by a Ruby Magnum ice cream, as we passed a couple of hours sat round the village green waiting for when we could check in to the Airbnb in Grinton at 3pm – a fantastic trip, great fun and company, and many thanks to Dale for doing all the driving

8 thoughts on “The Herriot way

  1. Nice approach to parking on that sign at the end – and £2 for the day is superb! Hope they make lots of money – they deserve to…

    Is a lot of that Swaledale? I’ve heard of quite a bit of it and think I’ve visited some of it but haven’t really been to Wensleydale as such as I’m not keen on it. I do like Swaledale though – sort of wilder and harsher.

    I think I’d have to do baggage transfer and B&B if I was doing that kind of thing – I’m too soft for tenting in bad weather and really struggle to carry loads anyway – especially over hills. I think I’ve just got used to lightweight walking.

    My earliest memories are when I was 3 years old (so not exactly a toddler) – it was my birthday and I’d been asked what I wanted. I was very keen on ‘cleaning’ in those days so asked for, and got, a dustpan and brush. They were small, cute and red and both I and my mother were delighted! (She bought it as she appreciated me sweeping the hearth etc.)

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    1. Yes it’s basically half Swaledale and half Wensleydale, both of which we used to holiday in a lot when I was young, so I have a soft spot for both of them.
      I think my main memories start from when I was about 3, I just have these tiny snatches of earlier ones.
      Dustpan and brush – love it!

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  2. The Dales really have wonderful looking walking, a great mixture of valley, rivers, waterfalls, fields and moorland. I really must make more of an effort to explore them. Haven’t been into that part for years. I just know the Ingleton side pretty well.

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