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