Bracken Way (Dales)

(95 miles, 8 days)

We will also plan, book & transfer your bags on your long distance walk on the Bracken Way click here

General Overview

“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).

Upper Dent viaduct

It is not yet official and therefore not waymarked (signposted). The route does stick to public right of ways and can be 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.

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

Limestone Pavements

Sample Itinerary

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.

Malham Tarn from west
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. 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.

Upper Falls Aysgarth

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.

Perfect lawned path

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.

Bolton Arms Redmire

2 Day Optional Extension to Swaledale

It is possible to include a couple of days visiting the most Northern Dale, Swaledale from Hawes, The walks to and back cover some rough country but the rewards of a day exploring Upper Swaledale gives a fuller understanding of the area,

Upper Settle


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, Herriots is on the spot

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

Swaledale: Rowleth End is our choice if you take the Swaledale extension

Personal Journey

Coming soon…


Day 1.
Coming soon…


  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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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