The Dales Way is an 81 mile trail which leads from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness on Windermere in Cumbria by way of Wharfedale, Dentdale and South Lakeland, from beneath England's most famous moor to its largest lake.
The trail passes through the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, discovering delightful villages such as Burnsall, Grassington, Kettlewell, Dent and Sedbergh. Savour the majesty of Bolton Abbey and walk by the engaging rivers of Wharfe, Dee, Rawthey, Lune, Sprint and Kent.
The route is less demanding than many long distance footpaths. For the first four days the route follows a mainly riverside trail through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, but it takes its opportunities to gain height and variety along the valley sides of both Wharfdale and Dentdale. After leaving the Dales the trail passes to the north of Kendal and into the Lake District for the final section of the walk.
Each night on the trail you stay in a different location in selected accommodation, with breakfast provided. Your luggage is collected daily and moved to your next accommodation.
Book with Northwestwalks and you can be confident of a personal, professional and well organised service. You can be assured we select quality walker friendly accommodation and provide a reliable daily luggage transfer service, plus a holiday pack which includes route information, accommodation details, route map, guidebook and the reassurance we can always be contacted should you need assistance.
This walking holiday is available from April to October. You can book your holiday to start on any date of your choice.
Start of tour
End of tour
Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria.
Grade of walk
This is a moderate route. The riverside paths make for less demanding walking than many long distance paths with some strenuous walking encountered crossing Cam Fell.
The terrain varies from riverside paths, farmland, country lanes and lowland moors.
The route is sensibly waymarked and generally easy to follow with the aid of a map and guidebook.
Carefully selected walker friendly accommodation.
Breakfast each day.
Luggage transfer between overnight accommodation.
Route information and itinerary.
Detailed instructions to find your accommodation.
Guidebook and route map.
Not included in the price of your holiday
Evening meals, packed lunches, drinks and snacks, travel insurance, travel to Ilkley and from Bowness-on-Windermere, souvenirs, laundry services, etc.
Accommodation is provided in carefully selected walker friendly B&Bs, Guest Houses, small Hotels and Inns. All rooms are ensuite or have private facilities.
We provide detailed instructions to find you accommodation.
Breakfast is included.
Packed lunches can be readily purchased from your overnight accommodation or local shop.
Evening meals can be purchased in local village pubs or overnight accommodation when a pub is not available.
For the duration of the holiday your luggage is transferred from accommodation to accommodation by a luggage transfer agent, so all you need to carry is a day rucksack and its contents.
Guidebooks and Maps
A guidebook and route map are included.
We can be contacted 24 hours a day if required.
The weather in Northern England is varied but we do get long dry warm spells. You should be prepared for all possibilities as weather, particularly in the mountains, can change quickly. Weather statistics are available from the Met Office at www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate
Good outdoor clothing and waterproofs are essential, please see equipmement list for further details.
Comfortable walking boots which provide good grip on multiple terrain and ankle support are recommended.
Please see equipmement list for further details
Some accommodation owners provide a laundry service for a small fee.
The Dales Way is an 81 mile trail which leads from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness on Windermere in Cumbria by way of Wharfedale, Dentdale and South Lakeland, from beneath England's most famous moor to its largest lake. The trail passes through the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, discovering delightful villages. After leaving the Dales the trail passes to the north of Kendal and into the Lake District for the final section of the walk. The following is intended to provide further information about the route. Please note that all distances and heights in this document are approximate and along with all the other information are provided as an aid to describe the route.
Ilkley (height above sea level 90m) to Burnsall (145m).
This section is an easy valley walk, following a pleasant mainly riverside route alongside the River Wharfe from Ilkley to Burnsall. You leave Ilkley and in a few miles arrive at Addingham, the route passes St Peter’s Church, parts of which date back to the 15th century. A few miles further and you arrive at Bolton Abbey Estate. At the heart of the Estate lies the Priory Church and ruins of an Augustinian Priory in its beautiful riverside setting. The land was gifted to the Augustinian canons in 1154. The canons lived and worshipped here until 1539 when the dissolution of the monasteries stripped the Priory of its assets. History lovers will enjoy the story of Prior Moone and how he negotiated with Cromwell to secure the nave as a place of worship for the local community and how the church continues to thrive to this day. Continuing along the river you walk through Strid Wood, named after a section of violent rapids in the river, and after leaving the wood arrive at Barden Bridge. From here it is straight forward walking to Burnsall; a pretty stone-built Dales village.
Burnsall (145m) to Hubberholme (230m).
The route continues a few miles alongside the River Wharfe to Grassington (200m). Here you leave the river and walk through the busy little market town. Walk uphill through the town and turn left following the route across fields and 'limestone pavements’ as it contours the hillside with splendid views along Wharfedale. The path rises gradually to a high point of 350m above the village of Conistone then gradually descends to the pretty village of Kettlewell (220m). Back on the valley floor the route continue alongside the River Wharfe passing the villages of Starbotton and Buckden on route to Hubberholme. Here you can visit the church and see the mice carved into the pews by the famous Mouseman of Kilburn.
Hubberholme (230m) to Cowgill (225m).
The Dales Way continues to follow the River Wharfe, which is now flowing through Langstrothdale, and passes Yockenthwaite. After a few miles the River Wharfe splits into its tributaries; Oughtershaw Beck and Green Field Beck. You follow a country lane for a short section and then continue alongside Oughtershaw Beck. The path now rises onto the moor to cross the watershed, and the highest point of the entire route at 522m on Cam Fell. There are open views across to the impressive Ribblehead viaduct. At this point you are also on the Pennine Way which you follow for a short distance then turn off to descend to Far Gearstones. The route climbs again to cross the corner of Blea Moor and meets a road which you follow under Dent Head Viaduct to Cowgill.
Cowgill (225m) to Sedbergh (130m).
You are now in Dentdale and easy walking returns as you continue to Sedbergh. Follow the route through fields and alongside the River Dee to the pretty village of Dent with its attractive whitewashed cottages and cobbled streets. The route continues to follow the river and as you approach Sedbergh it leaves the river to cross farmland to Millthrop Bridge. From here Sedbergh is 0.5 mile off route. Sedbergh is a small town in Cumbria with a narrow main street lined with shops.
Sedbergh (130m) to Burneside (50m).
From Millthrop Bridge the route heads west then curves to the north to follow the River Lune, passing Howgill on the right. You then turn west again and leave the Yorkshire Dales National Park. On a mix of footpaths, farm tracks and country lanes you walk across the rolling farmland between the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks to Burneside village, which is just north of the town of Kendal.
Burneside (50m) to Bowness-on-Windermere (50M).
Once again the route returns to the riverside for a few miles and follows the River Kent to Staveley. As you approach Staveley you cross into the Lake District National Park. The route leaves the river and climbs to 230 metres to cross the rolling fells between Staveley and Lake Windermere. As you cross Grandsire hill there are views to the Lake District Mountains. Cross the farmland and descend to journeys end, and then down into Bowness and Lake Windermere. A perfect place to add an extra night or two.
Train timetables can be viewed and tickets purchased online at www.thetrainline.com
Reduced price ‘Advanced tickets’ are sometimes available and can be purchased from approx 12 weeks prior to departure.
To Ilkley The train station in Ilkley is a short walk from your accommodation.
From Bowness on Windermere The train station in Windermere is approximately one mile from your accommodation.
By bus Bus timetables are available to view online at www.traveline.info
By Air The most convenient International airport is Leeds Bradford. Travel from the airport to Leeds train station is by bus. For further information please visit www.leedsbradfordairport.co.uk
Please remember to
1. Keep the weight of your day pack and walking/hiking equipment to a comfortable weight for you to carry
2. Keep your suitcase/luggage under the maximum transfer weight (Maximum: 20kg (44lbs)).
The following checklist is an aid to help you with your packing
Walking/Hiking boots (worn in before your holiday)
Technical walking socks e.g. liner and thick outer socks
Trekking trousers (not jeans/denim)
Waterproof over trousers
Baselayer T-shirts and/or casual shirts
Fleece or warm jumper
Spare warm layer (to carry in your rucksack)
Rucksack (25 to 35 litres) and waterproof cover
Rucksack liner e.g. large plastic bag
Water bottles 1 litre (x2)
Basic First Aid Kit and personal medication
Torch / flashlight
Thermos flask for hot drinks
Antibacterial hand wash/wipes
Camera, film, batteries
Hi NWW, Just to say how much my son and I enjoyed our walk …….we enjoyed it very much, accommodation was very good and cannot fault anything. Hopefully I will be in touch again for next year when it’s been decided where and when.
Many thanks again for your care and attention in all the arrangements, Ruth, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2021
Good morning Dean and Corinna, Garry and I had a wonderful Dales Way walk with near perfect weather and good accommodation......
Susan, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2020
Hi Dean & Corinna. Thank you for arranging our walk from Ilkley to Bowness. We have now arrived back in Australia after completing the walk in June. The weather wasn’t the best as, given the summer of 2018, we were expecting to see some ‘summer’ on the walk ….. the accommodation you had booked for the whole walk...was first class and we cannot fault the standard of accommodation and the meals being provided at all the stops ... Again many thanks for making the arrangements and providing the holiday pack with all the information. We will definitely recommend Northwestwalks to our friends and acquaintances.
Best Regards, Geoff & Anne, Australia, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2019
Hello Dean, I really loved the Dales Way and everything went very smoothly, thanks. Accommodation was really good …I had a few extra days in the Lakes which went well.
Best wishes, Susan, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2015
Hello NWW - my husband and I have just finished the Dales Way organised by yourselves. We enjoyed the experience very much. I did the same walk in June 2013 organised, again, by you…..
Many thanks. Kath, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2015
Dear Dean and Corinna, We enjoyed our two walks during August and were entirely satisfied with all the arrangements organised by NWW. Everything went to plan. As one would expect, the quality and attractiveness of the accommodation varied but it was mostly very good…We look forward to arranging another expedition next year.
Best wishes, Martin and Frances, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2015
Dear Dean and Corinna, Just a note to say thank you for making all the arrangements for our walk along the Dales Way. We were very happy with the accommodation, and had no problems with the route or with the bag transfers. We are now back home, having spent a few extra days in the Lake District, hopefully a little fitter than when we started… it's also a pleasure for me to support a 'local' business.
Thanks again, Frank and Angela, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2015
A quick thank you to North West Walks for organising our recent walking holiday. My family and I walked the Dales Way unguided from 9 to 17 July. Being inexperienced walkers with two children, we were initially apprehensive about signing up. However, the accommodation was superb (without exception) and always having our luggage waiting for us when we arrived each day was terrific. It certainly was a holiday that we will all remember for years to come and we are now planning the for another challenge next year.
Simon, Dubai, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2012
We just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the Dales Way last week. It was one of the best holidays we've ever had!... Everything went like clockwork, so thank you, we can't wait for the next one.
Mervyn & Jan, UK, Dales Way Self-Guided, 2010