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A Dales High Way is an exhilarating 90 mile walk across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales. The walk starts in the historic World Heritage village of Saltaire, and following ancient trade routes, green lanes and packhorse trails wherever possible, heads north to Appleby-in-Westmorland.
Each day brings new experiences, from the darkly mysterious Rombalds Moor with its many examples of Stone Age rock carvings, to the dramatic limestone scars of Malhamdale. The route meanders along the banks of the River Ribble, where in autumn salmon can be seen leaping up the waterfalls of Stainforth Force, and passes the isolated splendour of Sunbiggin Tarn. It climbs mighty Ingleborough, and in a breathtaking six-mile ridge walk crosses the velvety folds of the Howgill Fells.
This is a challenging walk which can either be done in a single journey or over a series of weekends. Much of it can be accessed using public transport. The route divides naturally into 6 sections which seasoned walkers might tackle in six days. For others wishing to take longer to explore along the way A Dales High Way website www.daleshighway.org.uk gives suggested itineraries.
Stage 1: Rombalds Moor. Saltaire to Skipton (17.9 miles)
Leave historic Saltaire along the canal towpath then climb through ancient woodland to the open moors. The going is generally good across the long whaleback of Rombalds Moor to the Victorian bath house at White Wells. After that it’s a long easy walk above the Wharfe valley past some spectacular examples of prehistoric Rock Art. There is an option for a break in the pretty mill village of Addingham before heading over Skipton Moor along a centuries-old track.
Stage 2: Malhamdale. Skipton to Settle (18.7 miles)
Today is a day of two halves. The climb up to Sharp Haw and later to Weets Top covers more of the grassy terrain of yesterday with a fine riverside walk in between. At Weets Top you cross into limestone country and the views towards Goredale Scar and distant Ingleborough are some of the finest on the walk. After Malham Cove the walking is most enjoyable past vast limestone outcrops, most spectacularly at Attermire Scar where you can take time out to inspect Jubilee and Victoria Caves before dropping down into Settle.
Stage 3: Ingleborough. Settle to Chapel-le-Dale (14.2 miles)
Leave Settle along the riverbank for an easy stroll to Stainforth. Look out for salmon leaping up the waterfalls in autumn. From Stainforth the way climbs onto a limestone plateau then follows the beautiful, secluded valley of Crummack Dale before heading for the summit of Ingleborough via the southern flank of Simon Fell. If the ascent was long and easy the descent is just the opposite – a startlingly steep drop to Humphrey Bottom and the tiny hamlet of Chapel-le-Dale.
Stage 4: Dentdale. Chapel-le-Dale to Sedbergh (15.7 miles)
Follow an ancient packhorse route, the Craven Way, all the way to Dent. Before you leave Chapel-le-Dale take a moment to visit the church and the memorial to the people who died building the Settle-Carlisle railway. The route around Whernside is lovely and the views as you head into Dentdale are spectacular. From Dent, climb over Frostrow where for the final few miles you can see the Howgills beckoning.
Stage 5: Howgill Fells. Sedbergh to Newbiggin-on-Lune (10.9 miles)
The steep climb out of Sedbergh up Settlebeck Gill takes you onto the Howgills where you enjoy a stunning six-mile ridge walk over these open, rolling fells before dropping into tiny Bowderdale and a short stretch of road walking on country lanes to reach Newbiggin-on-Lune. Look out for the famous Fell ponies roaming wild.
Stage 6: Eden Valley. Newbiggin-on-Lune to Appleby (12.7 miles)
The final day of the walk brings one last surprise. As you pass the isolated splendour of Sunbiggin Tarn to climb up beside Great Kinmond, the vast expanse of limestone pavement that is Great Asby Scar is revealed, framed by the towering skyline of the Pennines. This view accompanies as you follow Hoff Beck and after a short final climb, you see Appleby Castle ahead. Your walk may be over but the pleasure is not as you return with a breathtaking ride along England’s most beautiful railway, the Settle-Carlisle line.