(85 miles, 8 days)
“A multi day walk passing all the best sites and countryside the Dales can offer”
To fully enjoy the Yorkshire Dales and in particular to appreciate the variety and character of the individual dales takes time. However in a week this can be comfortably achieved on foot. I have put together a long distance route that covers the best places to visit in the area and called it the Bracken Way (after our old collie who would have loved it). Whilst the Dales Way cuts right through the heart of the dales but spends its 2nd half up in Cumbria the Bracken Way stays in the Dales.
It is not yet official and therefore not waymarked (signposted) but always sticks to public right of ways and can be clearly followed on any map.
The days can be quite long (roughly 15 miles a day) but is almost exclusively on good paths or bridleways (some tarmac but on the quieter roads) so the miles pass quickly. I have indicated in the itinerary below options and places off route to visit which will only enhance the enjoyment of the walk. I have also added a map of the route.
Try it and you will finish with a much better understanding and love for the ‘Dales’
Day 1 Settle to Malham 6 miles An easy first day with a pleasant walk over the limestone scenery of the Settle Loop to Malham. There is plenty of time for the 1/2 mile walk to Malham Cove, often at its best in later evening light and a pint in one of the 2 delightful pubs.
Day 2. Malham to Kettlewell 13 miles 2 options, both of similar length and amount of uphill. The choice is yours but personally I do love Littondale!
- Join Mastile Lane to Kilnsey in Wharfedale. Visit Kilnsey Crag, pass through Conistone and join the Dales Way to Kettlewell
- Pass over Gordale Scar to Malham Tarn. A high moor leads to Arncliffe in lovely Littondale, then a short final crossing leads directly to the village of Kettlewell.
Day 3. Kettlewell to West Burton 14 miles Buckden Pike is in my view the best mountain in the Dales and the route passes a few hundred feet from its summit. (Climb it unless the weather is poor!). From Buckden Pike the route descends sharply into the lovely but rarely visited Walden Dale. The pretty village of West Burton awaits the tired walker at the end of the day.
Day 4. West Burton to Hawes 15 miles The length of this day purely depends on how many places you want to visit. They come thick and fast as the route passes threough the heart of Wensleydale; Castle Bolton, Aysgarth Falls, Askrigg, Hardraw Falls before Hawes itself homes in to view. A long day but largely flat.
Day 5 Rest Day in Hawes There is plenty to see and do in Hawes so is ideal for a rest day at the half way point of the Bracken Way. However if you do want a walk, take the 8 mile round trip to Semer Water, the largest natural inland lake in the Dales and a wildlife sanctuary…a genuinely peaceful spot.
Day 6 Hawes to Dent 16.5 miles The Bracken Way to Dent passes through some remote country as it passes out of Yorkshire and in to Dentdale. Leaving Wensleydale the path passes the lower slopes of Great Knowberry before passing Dent Station (the highest English train station) and meeting Dentdale at Cowgill. Cobbled streets greet the weary walker on arrival in the attractive village of Dent and the local micro brewery is very welcome.
Day 7 Dent to Ingleton 14.5 miles From Dent the Bracken Way traverses the lower slopes of Great Coum, with cracking views of Dentdale, before dropping in to Kingsdale. Whernside (the highest peak in Yorkshire) is an option but it is a dreary ascent and most will be happy to follow Kingsdale before dropping into Ingleton via one arm of the famous Ingleton waterfalls.
Day 8 Ingleton to Settle 14.5 miles This is a beautiful finish to the walk through wonderful limestone country. As with the previous day there is an option to climb Ingleborough, but this time on good paths. However either route passes through a collection of pretty Yorkshire villages (Clapham, Austwick, Feizor (cup of tea) before returning to your start point at Settle. The Bracken Way follows public rights of way throughout.
2 Day Optional Extension to Swaledale Adding Swaledale to the itinerary certainly enhances the walk and increase knowledge of what makes the Yorkshire Dales so popular. Therefore we have added an option to the Bracken Way which is a 2 day/1 night extension in to Swaledale, staying in either Muker or Keld, 2 exquisite villages in Upper Swaledale.
Because the moors are higher here the two walks from Hawes include some remote walking with one way passing along the Pennine Way over Great Shunner Fell whilst the other crosses the moors further east entering the valley near Gunnerside.
Places to Stay
We have listed some of our favourite places to stay on the Bracken Way
Littondale: Queen’s Arms recently renovated in the centre of Litton
Dent: George & Dragon, another pub and has excellent local beer!
Ingleton: Halsteads Barn is a lovely B & B with a restaurant
Swaledale: Rowleth End is our choice if you take the Swaledale extension