The Dales may have beautiful scenery, classy beer and food, pretty villages and is on many people’s doorstep but some still choose to go elsewhere for their holiday break.
That is not to say that many people do not come to the Dales, they do and have a great time when they are here. However there is a number ofpeople, and many of these would say their prime motivation for visiting is to walk, who would say that the Dales lacks the excitement and most importantly the Challenge of a Lake District, Wales or even the coastal walking of the South West.
As a committed walker I always seek a challenge, a goal, when out walking. The challenge does not have to be tough. It may be just a visit to an historical site, bagging a summit or two, visiting an out of the way village or even just involve completing a walk I have planned in an accurate time. The Challenge of completing a long distance footpath is exceptionally satisfying; ticking off Wainwrights, Marilyn’s or Munros equally so.
The Challenge is part of it but what I have found is that the challenges take you to a part of the country you would never normally visit. My knowledge of Scotland is so much for completing the Munros, no doubting to my benefit and pleasure.
The Dales does have one of the great challenges already, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks. From April to the end of September hundreds trek their way over Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough bringing many people (if not income) to the area. Less popular but in a similar vein the Dales Way is an excellent long distance footpath although to be honest it does rather follow a single river and much of it is on the Cumbrian side of The M6 anyway.
The Dales needs challenges for walkers to drive them in to the area. Here are just 3 proposals which I have tried and found incredibly satisfying. Not only do they give people time to enjoy and soak in the Dales but they also visit much more of the area including some real hidden gems that visitors would normally never find.
The Lake District equivalent of the “Dales 30” are the Wainwrights. The Dales 30 is a list of every mountain over 2,000 foot with a 100 foot minimum drop on all sides. Being 30 of them means that they are spread across the Dales (which in this case includes the Howgills, which are in Cumbria but to the east of the M6). Some are really quite remote and involve a certain amount of ‘off track’ walking across moorland, others are close to the road whilst all 3 Peaks are naturally included. I must admit to a particular liking for Buckden Pike.
For a full list and further details on the Dales 30 Click Here
A circular 7 day walk which includes many of the highlights of the Dales. It visits 7 Dales and is tough in places, the days can be quite long and some cross some quite high watersheds. There is usually though a high and low option which you can take depending on the weather and how you are feeling. Malham Cove, Aysgarth Falls, Ribblehead and the Ingleton Falls are all visited, in fact it is difficult to see what is not. For a full understanding and feel for the Dales, walking the Bracken Way is perfect.
For full details of the Bracken Way Click Here
Many complete the 3 Peaks challenge within the 12 hours which are recommended but fail to have any proper taste for the area.For anyone who would like to take a more leisurely round or simply do not feel up to he single day challenge then completing the 3 Peaks in 3 Days is perfect. Take time on each fell, climb them from the best angle and take time to explore the local area. It is perfect, an achievable challenge without the stresses and strains of having to push yourself to the limit.
These are just 3 ways to enjoy the Dales, there are many many more. I love the area but know full well how a challenge helps the enjoyment so much more. It makes the beer taste so much better.
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I really enjoyed reading this, some great ideas for challenging walks in the Dales. Check out A Dales High Way too at http://www.daleshighway.co.uk It’s 90 miles over some of the best landscapes of the Western Dales.
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