Bracken Way

“The Bracken Way is a multi day walk passing all the best sites, scenery, villages and countryside the Dales can offer”

(95 miles, 7 days)

Arten Gill, Dent
Arten Gill, Dent

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 visits the most interesting places in the Dales. The long distance footpath is called it the Bracken Way (after our old collie who would have loved it).

The route follows public right of ways but is not signposted. Two O/S Explorer maps cover the walk.

Try it and you will finish with a much better understanding and love for the ‘Dales’

Buckden Beck
Buckden Beck

The Best Itinerary

Day 1 Settle to Malham 6 miles

A short 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 stroll 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

Head east to visit the waterfall Janet’s Foss and the spectacular gorge of Gordale Scar. Head north to Malham Tarn before crossing some higher land to the lovely dale of Littondale. A final pull over a limestone shoulder and Kettlewell nestles below.

Malham Cove
Malham Cove

Day 3. Kettlewell to West Burton 14 miles

Buckden Pike is, in my view, the best mountain in the Dales. The route passes a few hundred feet from its summit. 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. It is possible to include Castle Bolton, Aysgarth Falls, Askrigg and Hardraw Force before finishing the day in the market town of Hawes.

If you want a Rest Day include it at Hawes, there is a multitude of things to do…walking or not.

Wensleydale barn
Wensleydale barn

Day 5 Hawes to Dent 16.5 miles

The Bracken Way to Dent passes through some remote country as it leaves Yorkshire and continues in Cumbria. The path passes the lower slopes of Great Knoutberry (which can be simply included) and the fantastic viaduct at Aisgill on the Settle Carlisle railway. Cobbled streets greet the weary walker on arrival in the attractive village of Dent and the local micro brewery is very welcome.

Day 6 Dent to Ingleton 14.5 miles

From Dent the Bracken Way climbs out of Dentdale on to the slopes of Whernside. There is an option to climb the highest mountain in Yorkshire (maybe weather dependent) or skirt the mountain via Ribblehead viaduct. The two routes meet above Ingleton waterfalls and then drop down to the town of the same name.

Whernside from Twisleton Scar
Whernside from Twisleton Scar

Day 7 Ingleton to Settle 14.5 miles

The final day is full of interest and variety. There is an option to climb Ingleborough, an excellent mountain or follow the lower route. The second part of the day passes the lovely villages of Clapham, Austwick and Feizor before arriving at Settle, the end of the walk.

Optional Extension to Swaledale

It is possible to include two days visiting the most Northern Dale, Swaledale. The walks to and back cover some rough country but the rewards of a day exploring Upper Swaledale is very rewarding.

Upper Swale
Upper Swale

We provide full details of the route and the relevant O/S maps in our Bracken Way Pack .


Bracken Way map

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

Hawes: The Stone House is beautiful but a mile or so outside the village.

Dent: George & Dragon another pub and has excellent local beer!

Personal Journey

Coming soon…


Day 1.
Coming soon…

  • Nicola says:

    I’m thinking of walking this next year, are there campsites on route or any spots where we can wild camp as I would prefer to do this than B&B it?

    • Jonathan says:

      There are a variety of campsites just on or very near the route. Certainly Malham (Gordale Scar), Kettlewell, Dent have good ones, there will be options on more official campsites in the bigger towns.
      Wild camping is officially not allowed in England but if you ask the local farmer there will be options.

  • Phil Eames says:

    Bracken Way 8th – 16th August 2020

    A group of six of us have just completed the Bracken Way with the Swaledale extension over 9 days and had a really great experience. It was helped by some great weather, but we found the route really interesting in terms of both exploring the Dales and getting to know how they all connect up.

    We wanted a challenging walk and it met our expectations (we averaged around 14 miles per day with the longest day 17 miles). On most days we rarely met other walkers (a bonus for us!) although it was impossible to avoid some crowds at Malham Cove and Ingleton Falls (still worth visiting both, of course).

    All the accommodation and baggage transfers were arranged by Jonathan and worked perfectly. We booked almost all of our meals ourselves in advance and this proved to be a good idea with space in many places restricted during the currently emergency. Food was for the most part very good (highlight The Kings Head in Kettlewell) and we varied the pub food diet with Indian restaurants in Hawes and Settle (both good).

    Just about every pub we visited (at least one in every place we stayed) had excellent local ales and we were pleasantly surprised just how consistently good the beer was and how much it has improved in recent years.

    So overall an excellent trip and many thanks to Jonathan for the route and organisation and Andy for bag transfers and his ever-cheerful demeanor!

  • Lisa Hanze says:

    Hi Jonathan and all of you reading about Bracken Way.

    When we decided to spend our holiday hiking in England we googled and find Where2walk.
    When we contacted Jonathan he answered us at once.
    Non of us have so much experience from long walking (except from one week in Bad Gastein, Austria)
    but we all thought that Bracken Way was something for us.

    In the end of June 2019 we, two couples from Sweden, arrived at Manchester airport.
    We continued our journey by taxi (pre-ordered) to Settle.
    There Jonathan met us. He picked up our luggage for transportation to the first stop in Malham.
    The opportunity of having our luggage transported with Sherpa Van between the accommodations was great.

    Then our walk along the Bracken Way started.
    We really enjoyed the week with the change of views and nature every day. Up some peaks, through valleys, over moorland, passing waterfall, walking through small villages and of course all farming land with sheeps and cows.
    Bracken Way takes you through parts of the Dales where you don’t meet many other hikers but still you visit some of the well visited spots (Malham Cove, Aysgarth Falls, Artengill Viaduct, Whernside).

    The walk means hours of walking every day so be sure that you take care of any blister at once.
    One of our party didn’t and couldn’t therefore join us all sections of the walk.

    Jonathan had sent us guide notes and highlighted maps. It was rather easy to follow the map.
    I have looked at the notes before the walk, but it became easier to understand them all once you were in place.
    The notes describes both the track and things to see while walking.

    All accommodation was comfortable and ”the full english” made us ready for the next walk.

    Thank you Jonathan for making it possible for us to walk the Bracken Way.

    Lisa Hanze Sweden

  • Ann Robinson says:

    Is it possible to buy the route of the Bracken Way

  • Grant Henderson says:

    We have walked many of the recognised walks in the UK predominately in Scotland. We always believed the West Highland Way was the benchmark but The Bracken Way outstripped it by a long way. The weather was exceptional which probably helped but the scenery was outstanding. Found the accommodation and food to range from average to good with a couple of excelents. This did not detract from the walk which was exceptional.

  • Jonathan says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    We have walked many of the recognised walks in the UK predominately in Scotland. We always believed the West Highland Way was the benchmark but your walk outstripped it by a long way. The weather was exceptional which probably helped but the scenery was outstanding. Found the accommodation and food to range from average to good but none of us were overly impressed which was disappointing.
    We will probably look to walk it again sometime in the next few years. Is there any problem with walking it in reverse?
    Thanks again for a great walk.


  • Shelly Kerwynn says:

    Hi there. Well, I’m going to give the Bracken Way another try. 4 days before departure last summer I got sick and the doctor told me that travel was not an option. (I had ordered your Bracken Way Pack and had intended on walking the path. I’d had all my stays booked and was so looking forward to another hike in UK)
    This year I couldn’t find a place to stay in Settle due to the 3 Peaks event so will be staying above the Post Office in Long Preston. The next day I’ll be staying in Grassington. (there is no place to stay in Malham at the time I’d hope to book either, so Grassington it is.)
    My question is: How long a day will it be to go from Long Preston up to Airton, on to Malham and over to Grassington via Malham Moor Lane? I realize it will be a little road travel up to Malham although I can catch the Pennine Way from Airton to Malham. I’m thinking at least a 6+hour day? (I certainly don’t mind walking those beautiful little roads though. I walked Dartmoor Way a couple of years ago and there was a fair bit of that and I loved it.)
    The other route I can take is by walking from Long Preston to Cracoe and then skip the busy highway and then catch a bus to Grassington.
    Does either of these ideas seem feasible?
    Many thanks, Jonathan. Hoping to hear back from you or anyone else who reads this page and has a good answer for me.
    Shelly, Whistler, BC, Canada

  • Jean Atkinson says:

    My friend and I are hoping to some of the Bracken Way in June . Is it possible to purchase you walking guide notes , I have the maps but would be very interested in your daily routes and comments, or do you now have a Bracken Way book to buy ?
    Thank you
    Jean Atkinson

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Jean, you can purchase a comprehensive set of notes from the Walkers Shop. they are very useful as the Bracken Way is not (yet) waymarked.

  • Angela says:

    Which outdoor leisure maps cover the Bracken Way, got OL2 but gave a feeling I may need the north eastern edge as well. Any other route descriptions/nap overviews would be useful too. Many thanks Angela

    • Jonathan says:

      Th two main maps are Explorer OL2, OL30. There is a small section north of Settle on OL41 but it is only for a couple of miles

  • Joan Swann says:

    I walked the Bracken Way with my husband in September 2016. It is a superb walk, taking you round some of the highlights of the Yorkshire Dales. As a relatively short walk (we did it in 7 days) it’s also easy to squeeze in if you can’t take too much time away. And it’s straightforward to adapt or add on points of interest – after the first short day from Settle to Malham we added on a walk round Malham – from the tarn down through Malham cove and then along to Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss – giving us a slightly shorter second day.
    Every day brought some glorious moments: the peaty summits of Buckden Pike and Great Knowtberry Hill, and then of course Whernside and Ingleborough, which we climbed when the cloud was so low you could barely see a few yards in front of you – and as we descended the cloud lifted, giving you the most beautiful view back up over the fell. The falls – Aysgarth, Hardraw, Ingleton … are stunning, even if you have to pay for the last two. And dropping down from Arten Gill under the arches of the viaduct provides a magical introduction to Dentdale: I sat for an hour, just looking along the valley.
    A good practical point about the walk is that each day starts and finishes in a village with good accommodation, usually a choice of pubs and sometimes restaurants. All were used to walkers and positively welcomed boots and all the clutter we carried. And there is always a local ale to try.
    Jonathan’s walking notes, which we used with 1:25,000 paper maps + OS downloads on an IPad, kept us pretty well on track, and pointed out things we might otherwise have missed.
    So, all in all, a fantastic week that blew away a few cobwebs and reignited our enthusiasm for the Dales. Many thanks, Jonathan, for designing the route and for the help you gave us in planning our walk.

  • Martin B. Tatuch says:

    Walking through England was a life-long dream of mine, but I didn’t know how to start planning for it. I decided on Yorkshire because I thought it was most typically English. I contacted Jonathan along with several other tour planners. I went with Jonathan’s proposal because it seemed the right balance between village and countryside that I was looking for.

    I couldn’t have been more happy with the route. The Yorkshire countryside is absolutely beautiful, as were the villages along the way.

    Jonathan was extremely helpful in carefully reviewing the route with me. II’d never done a multi-day walk, and I was a little concerned with the length of some of the days’ route, but he gave me the confidence that I could make the walk. I had little problem in finding my way, even when straying off the path a bit. All the accommodations were comfortable, and all the innkeepers friendly. His recommendations on where to eat proper food were also spot-on. And the Sherpavan service which took my suitcase from village to village was the perfect help.

    Jonathan clearly knows and loves Yorkshire. He also knows how to plan a walking holiday. I look forward to exploring other parts of England with him.

  • Mike Mumford says:

    What a great vacation in England, and what great service! My wife and daughter and I hiked the Bracken Way in mid-August 2015. I really like Jonathon’s Where2Walk service. We felt reassured that an experienced local was sending us down his favorite paths and that we were seeing the very best of the area, but without being led on a guided tour or walking on crowded paths. The highlighted maps work great, and the route descriptions head you in the right direction but still leave a little sense of route finding and adventure. (Less adventure as the week went by and I got better at map reading!). We even got a personal pre-departure briefing from Jonathon at the Lion Pub as I had left some of my walk materials at home and he was kind enough to drive over and replace them. Again, friendly professional service and a beautiful route.

  • Kim McCherry says:

    I walked the bracken way in September of 2013. At that time of year the weather can be temperamental, but we were lucky with only one day of rain, and a glorious cloud free, last day.

    I walked with my dog and Where2Walk were excellent in accommodating the animal where other walking companies simply told me that I had left it too late to book with a dog.

    The accommodation, all hotels, bar one night, was excellent as was the food and hospitality.

    The way itself was a good mixture of valleys, moor, quaint villages and waterfalls ( but no woodland/forest ). The way, although not sign posted, was easy to follow using the OS map and instructions provided.

    I would have no hesitation in using this company again or in recommending the walk to others.

    Kim McCherry
    St Michael on Wyre

  • Don Bailey says:

    The Bracken Way 5th to 10th May 2013.

    An exhilarating, challenging and varied walk over some of Yorkshire`s finest peaks and attractive Dales. Around 90 miles in six days with five ascents to 2,000ft or over. A particularly good test in changeable weather, which ranged from warm Spring sunshine to 50 mile an hour winds and four hours of concerted rain from the top of Whernside. For those wanting a more leisurely ramble the walk could easily be spread over 9 or 10 days.

    Good contrast in scenery from the wild moorlands of Buckden Pike, Whernside and Ingleborough to the lush valleys of Walderdale and Wensleydale. Acomodation was all welcoming and comfortable, with hearty breakfasts provided without exception by country pubs, B&Bs, an art gallery and even a post office.

    Where2walk provided highlighted OS maps backed up by a sheet of written instructions for each day`s walk. Their organisation and knowledge were first class and enhanced our enjoyment of the trip. We wouldn`t hesitate to use their services again.

    Don and Steve

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