Challenges for Walkers “The Dales”

November 4, 2014

The Dales may have beautiful scenery, classy beer and food, pretty villages and is on many people’s doorstep but it is not enough. Many seek challenges and satisfaction, particularly when out walking.

Barden Tower ruins
Barden Tower

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.

Crag Hill
Great Coum

1. The Dales 30

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

Wild Boar Fell from south

2. The Bracken Way

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

Malham Centre woods

3. Three Peaks in Three Days

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.

Look for our Guided days

Inglebough from Ewes Top

4. The Wharfedale 3 Peaks

As a real alternative to the Yorkshire 3 Peaks is the Wharfedale 3 Peaks. The length is a little less but in many ways the walk is tougher mainly due to the rougher and almost trackless path. The walk starts in the village of Kettlewell, climbing steeply up Great Whernside and on to Buckden Pike. From Buckden there is a long drop to the valley floor before a climb up the third peak of Birks.

The real joy of the day is the lack of people, a great challenge in stunning scenery. Find out more.

Buckden Pike

5. Down Dales, Over Moors

The character of the Dales is unique. The miles of empty footpaths and wild moorland is actually what the area is like. Spending time on the moors is invigorating and enjoyable, the miles pass with out effort and its the birds and open vistas that are the attraction.

Have a look at our walks below and turn them in to your own personal challenge. Complete the longest 15 and you will have a much greater feel for the Dales. The beer in the attractive Dales villages complete great days.

Here is our list of remote walks

Addleborough approaches

These are just five 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.

Enjoy your walking


For a full list of all my ‘Best of…’ blogs please follow this link

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