395m ascent, 392m descent, total 13.2 miles/21.2 km
An easy day to start, mainly flat on the Trans Pennine Trail, with outstanding views west from Wharncliffe Crags to the Peak District National Park
Have a pint in the club bar, and set off. Walking is hard work, especially with a heavy pack, so you'll be glad to know the first pub is the Strafford Arms after about 120m. After a well-earned rest at the Strafford, join the Trans Pennine Trail at Gilroyd and head west through delightful pastoral countryside, calling at the Station at Silkstone Common and the Travellers Rest at Oxspring for further refreshments, although the Travellers is sometimes closed at lunchtimes. Follow the road downhill from the pub to the next pub, the Waggon and Horses, but leave your boots outside at this one. Do not follow the signed Trans Pennine Trail along the road to the north, but turn left uphill to join the trail at a bridge and head south through the beautiful River Don valley, including a tunnel complete with lighting provided by Barnsley Council. You can follow the trail all the way to Oughtibridge if you prefer, but the best way is to climb up to Wharncliffe Crags for fine views west to the Pennines, including Derwent Edge and Black Hill with its TV mast. You will meet Black Hill intimately on day 4 or 5. After the crags, there are a variety of woodland trails descending to rejoin the Trans Pennine Trail, then head for Oughtibridge. The Pheasant greets you, or you can press on to the Cock Inn which is the end of today's stage. Both are fine real ale, muddy boots, food and dogs pubs. Accommodation is non-existent in Oughtibridge, but there are good bus connections to Sheffield or Stocksbridge.
Stainborough: Dodworth: Oxspring: Oughtibridge
Barnsley: Dodworth: Silkstone Common: Penistone: Sheffield
Stainborough: Silkstone Common: Oxspring: Thurgoland: A616: Oughtibridge
Stainborough Cricket Club: Strafford Arms, Stainborough: Station, Silkstone Common (0.2 miles): Travellers Rest, Waggon and Horses, Oxspring: Pheasant, Cock Inn, Oughtibridge
Barnsley: Dodworth: Sheffield
Stainborough Cricket Club: Travellers Rest, Oxspring: Wharncliffe Crags (wild)
795m ascent, 539m descent, total 25.8 miles/41.5 km
A surprisingly hard day, with lots of ascent and descent, in beautiful countryside west of Sheffield in the foothills of the Pennines
From Oughtibridge, climb up the hill for Worrall, avoiding road walking with pleasant footpaths cutting corners off. From Worrall, follow the Sheffield Country Walk west into the Peak District National Park to High Bradfield, where there's a micro brewery for those interested (like me), and the Old Horns pub for those interested (like me). After refreshments, drop down the hill to Low Bradfield and immediately follow the permissive path on the south west bank of Damflask reservoir, but branching off steeply uphill to Dungworth at a junction of roads. Follow the route carefully from here, down to the Rivelin valley to cross the busy A57 Snake road. After the road, the path crosses the River Rivelin with a delightful series of stepping stones, but watch out if the river is in spate as the stones are slippy and some have fast flowing water covering them. Having negotiated the stepping stones, climb steeply up through the woods, passing the Fox Hagg nature reserve, but follow the route carefully as there are myriad of interconnecting paths in this area. Turn right along the road, where the Sportsman's Inn beckons, but sadly it's usually closed at lunch times. Turn left on the path immediately beyond the pub, through playing fields where you may see model aircraft buzzing around. Follow an intricate series of paths and roads past the majestic Fulwood Hall, then descend on the road before joining a path to the crossing of Porter Clough. You're so close now, but be careful here as no less than 6 different paths intersect at Porter Clough - it would be a shame to go astray with your well-earned pint so close! Assuming you pick the correct path, a cruel last climb of the day follows. Rumour has it that this last climb has been designed by the landlord of the Norfolk Arms in Ringinglow in an attempt to enhance sales of beer to thirsty walkers, and I can confirm that this works very well. Stagger up the hill and turn right into the pub car park to reach your destination for today. The Norfolk Arms does accommodation, food, real ales and a huge range of superb malt whiskies, and if you ask nicely they may allow camping in their grounds. There's also a warm wood-burning stove which is very useful if you had a disaster with the stepping stones in the River Rivelin. Go steady with the whiskies, as tomorrow you've got the first really wild Yorkshire day to come.
Oughtibridge: Bradfield: Dungworth: Rivelin Valley: Ringinglow
Oughtibridge: Bradfield: Dungworth: A57 Rivelin Valley: Ringinglow
Shoulder of Mutton, Blue Ball, Worrall: Old Horns, Plough, Bradfield: Sportsman's Inn, 3 Merry Lads, Lodge Moor: Norfolk Arms, Ringinglow
Norfolk Arms, Ringinglow: Fox House Inn, Longshaw: Hathersage: Sheffield
3 Merry Lads, Lodge Moor: Norfolk Arms, Ringinglow
680m ascent, 470m descent, total 40.2 miles/64.7 km
A hard but exhilarating day's walk on the majestic Stanage and Derwent Edges, with far reaching views west to Kinder Scout and Bleaklow
From Ringinglow, head into the Peak District National Park on the old turnpike, Houndkirk Road, climbing up onto the moor to the highest point yet reached at 427m. Descend to the Fox House Inn, where surely there's time for early refreshments? Of course there is, and one of the staff will greet you with a smile and a pint. You will have to pay for the pint, but the smiles are free. From the Fox House, cross the road and turn left on a B road, then immediately turn off on a path through a wood. When the path forks, take the right fork and cross the main road, continuing on a well worn path, which you can follow all the way to Upper Burbage Bridge if you prefer. Our route however branches off to the left and climbs up to Carl Wark Fort and Higger Tor beyond, eventually reaching the car park at Upper Burbage Bridge, where there is sometimes an ice cream van on summer weekends. From here, head west to join the famous Stanage Edge, a rock climber's paradise, and follow the edge over High Neb all the way to the A57 Snake Pass road near Moscar Lodge. In bad weather, there are a couple of shelters close to High Neb if you need to ride out a storm. At Moscar Lodge, an important decision has to be made - from here on is just about the wildest part of the route, and there's no accommodation for the next 2 nights unless you've got a tent, sleep under the stars or take my recommended alternative pub route (see tomorrow's description). From Moscar Lodge you can take the road to the Strines Inn, where there's food and lodging, but you'll miss out on magnificent views from Derwent Edge, one of the highlights of the entire walk. My tip in good weather would be to continue on the main route, as (energy permitting) you could take a 2 mile detour to the Strines later, so head west along the A57 road, then turn right on the Strines Road and climb up to the Wheel Stones on Derwent Edge, with its spectacular wind-sculptured rocks with bizarre names like Salt Cellar and Cakes of Bread. You'll enjoy tremendous views into the Derwent Valley far below, whistling the theme from Dambusters as you march along. At Back Tor, you've reached the highest point so far at 538m, which is a great place for a bivouac or wild camp in good weather, otherwise head east down to the Strines Inn (about 2 miles) for beer, food, company and a bed.
Ringinglow: A6187 Fox House Inn: Upper Burbage Bridge: A57
Fox House Inn, Longshaw: Strines Inn (2 miles)
Strines Inn (2 miles)
Derwent Edge (wild): Back Tor (wild)
386m ascent, 325m descent, total 54.8 miles/88.2 km
A wild and remote day, with undefined paths, possibly boggy in bad weather, and little chance of accommodation or refreshment without substantial detours
Make no mistake, today is a hard and wild day, which will challenge even the strongest of walkers with difficult navigation, bogs and leg breaking terrain. In bad weather, or in winter, I recommend one of 2 alternatives - a lower level route from Back Tor down to Derwent Valley, or a route through Langsett via the Waggon and Horses and the Dog and Partridge. From Back Tor, the Upper Derwent Valley route sets off north-west to Lost Lad, and both the main route and the pub route head north-east on a good path. Don't be tempted to drop down into Howden Dean and climb up the other side - I tried that and had to be revived later by several pints of Landlord bitter in the Waggon and Horses at Langsett. Follow the path north east from Back Tor but watch out for a faint path turning off left near Round Hill, where the path emerging from Howden Dean joins our path. At this point you could decide to continue on towards Langsett, and who would blame you, especially if you've camped out wild at Back Tor the night before, but if you're daft enough to continue on the main route, turn left here. Your objective is High Stones on Howden Edge, the highest point in South Yorkshire, but the feeble path is easily lost in bad weather. A decent guide is to follow Cartledge Brook as far you can, until it peters out near High Stones, and don't lose any height. Once you've reached High Stones, the going and route-finding get easier - follow Howden Edge north on an improving path. Keep on past Margery Hill to the Cut Gate track, where there is an escape route east to Langsett, where you can join the pub route. Having wallowed through peat bogs to this point, your resolve (if you like beer) will be severely challenged! On the main route, continue on from the Cut Gate track past Outer Edge to an indistinct point on the watershed between Hoar Clough Head and Loftshaw Clough Head on the Yorkshire boundary, where the Derwent Valley alternative rejoins the main route. Follow the faint path north over Round Hill to Lady Cross, where you may well meet wobbly or hungover walkers fresh from the pub route, then turn west to briefly join the Trans Pennine Trail near Salter's Brook. Follow the Trail north to the Woodhead Pass road A628, cross the busy road and follow the minor road to the north. After a short distance a path appears on the left which we follow until it forks, where we take the right hand fork due north past a brick hut. The track soon disappears, and from this point route finding is difficult in bad weather until the boundary fence is located on Upper Dead Edge. The best plan is to follow the stream uphill and watch for it turning west, where you can see the corner of the fence, if the weather is good. In bad weather aim west, to the south of the fence corner to ensure you hit it. Once you've found the fence, you can follow it all the way to Holme Moss over Upper Dead Edge and Britland Edge Hill to the Holme Moss road A6024. It's remote here, so put your tent up if you can't get a lift to Holme or Holmfirth to the east. The best escape route is north-east down the A6024 road to Holme (about 2 miles) where there's a pub but no accommodation, and also a bus service to Holmbridge and Holmfirth where there is ample accommodation.
Holme (2 miles)
A628 Woodhead Pass: A6024 Holme Moss
Fleece Inn, Holme (2 miles)
Holmbridge (3 miles): Holmfirth (4.5 miles)
Holme Moss (wild)
523m ascent, 478m descent, total 54.8 miles/88.2 km
An easier alternative with good route finding, dropping down into the Derwent Valley before climbing to join the main route
This alternative is still a wild route, with few signs of civilisation apart from the Upper Derwent and Howden reservoirs, but the route finding is easier and the paths are infinitely better. From Back Tor, take the flagged path to Lost Lad, a bizarre name more suited to the main route. Lost Lad is a superb viewpoint with a lovely memorial depicting the multitude of hills in view, and the flagged path continues on to drop down into Upper Derwent Valley where Abbey Brook empties into the reservoir. Keep north along the east bank of Howden reservoir, which eventually become the infant River Derwent. Watch out for Slippery Stones, a well-known wild swimming spot in summer, and keep on along the river, gradually regaining the height lost since Back Tor. The path wends westwards, on its way towards the source of the River Derwent at Swains Greave, but we turn north up Hoar Clough to the Shepherds Meeting Stones, where there is shelter in bad weather. From here, follow the faint path northwards to rejoin the main route near the Hoar Clough Head.
Holme (2 miles)
A628 Woodhead Pass: A6024 Holme Moss
Fleece Inn, Holme (2 miles)
Holmbridge (3 miles): Holmfirth (4.5 miles)
Holme Moss (wild)
657m ascent, 725m descent, total 54.8 miles/88.2 km
An alternative which avoids the wildest section of the main route, but with some road walking
If you decide to take this route, you really should split the day into two by stopping overnight at the Waggon and Horses or the Dog and Partridge. If you do, let me know and I might join you as I live not far away, but make sure you have enough money to buy me a few pints and pay for my taxi home! From Back Tor, take the main route but continue straight on on the Dukes Road where the main route branches left up onto the wild and boggy moors. Note when the path turns exactly due east, then watch carefully for the path veering slightly more north. At this point strike out due north across the moor - your objective is a track serving some shooting butts on Broomhead Moor. It's difficult walking in tussocky grass and heather. If you don't fancy it, continue on the main path for a short distance until you come to a stream, then follow it upstream until you hit the track. In bad weather, you'll need your compass around here, and the technique of "aiming off" should be used to make sure you hit the track. Follow the track north past a shooting lodge, then east all the way to the road. On the road, drop down steeply to Ewden Beck, then climb up the road and take the footpath on the left just after Gill Royd Lane, heading for Langsett. Looking at the map, you may be tempted to continue along Mortimer Road to the Old Mustard Pot pub at Midhopestones, but sadly the pub has now closed. As an alternative, you can follow Gill Royd Lane to the tiny village of Upper Midhope, where you have a choice of routes. If you're breaking your journey at Langsett, keep on along the road to the Waggon and Horses at Langsett via the reservoir dam, otherwise there's a beautiful path around the south side of Langsett Reservoir, passing the ambitiously named ruined farm of North America. This path joins up with the route at a bridge over the Porter or Little Don River. There's accommodation at the Waggon and Horses, and a café across the road, but be careful as the pub closes at 9pm on most days, earlier on Sunday and it's closed all day on Mondays. From here, the route continues along the northern bank of Langsett Reservoir, through a complex junction of paths to the A628 Woodhead Pass road past the ruined farm of Swinden and along Swinden Lane. Follow the road west to the Dog and Partridge, where there's further accommodation and refreshment opportunities, and the pub is open every day from 12, although no dogs are allowed in here. The route crosses the road here and climbs the moor on the old snow road, running roughly parallel to the main road. At the highest point, near South Nab, cross the road again and take the track to Lady Cross, where we rejoin the main route. I was only kidding earlier, if you do decide to spend an evening either of the pubs, of course I'll pay my way if I join you!
Langsett: Holme (2 miles)
Ewden: Langsett: A628 Woodhead Pass: A6024 Holme Moss
Waggon and Horses, Langsett: Dog and Partridge, Woodhead Pass
Waggon and Horses, Langsett: Dog and Partridge, Woodhead Pass: Holmbridge (3 miles): Holmfirth (4.5 miles)
Dog and Partridge, Woodhead Pass: Holme Moss (wild)
327m ascent, 477m descent, total 68.9 miles/110.9 km
A very hard and boggy route for peat-loving purists, on the original Pennine Way over Saddleworth Moor, then crossing the M62 motorway
Head north west past the TV station and follow the Yorkshire boundary on the north east edge of Heyden Brook (no path), turning west as the land levels out to reach the trig point on Black Hill. I make no apology for following the Pennine Way from here all the way to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, as the route and accommodation options are well documented, and the scenery is first class. From Black Hill there is a bad weather (or bad mood) alternative route which heads slightly east of north on the current Pennine Way on an easy paved path, but our main route strikes out north west on the original Pennine Way across Wessenden Head Moor to cross the A635 at its highest point, directly on the Yorkshire boundary. It's hard going, you will probably need a compass, and in wet weather it's like wallowing in cold black rice pudding. Note that my estimated mileage does not take account of the endless detours you will have to make to avoid the more liquid sections. Cheer up when you finally reach the A635 road, as the boggy section over White Moss north of the road are now served by a good paved path. Continue across the infamous Saddleworth moor, bowing your head for a minute to think of the poor victims of the Moors Murders back in the 1960s. In the 1980's I sank waist deep into a bog here while walking alone on the Pennine Way, and was lucky that I had my dog on a lead so I could pull myself out before I disappeared beneath the morass, so be careful if you leave the paved path for any reason. Continue on the Yorkshire boundary over White Moss and Black Moss to Black Moss reservoir, where the alternative route on the Pennine Way rejoins us. Notice how clean the Pennine Way walkers are, compared to yourself. Continue over Standedge, with its fine rock formations, and the bleak White Hill to the M62 crossing, using the footbridge specially built for Wild Yorkshire Way walkers (honest!). Enter Lancashire (temporarily) and ascend to Blackstone Edge, then continue on to the White House pub. There's food and beer here, but no accommodation, so you may need to head west or east on the A58 to find a bed for the night. Campers may find a wild spot around here and spend a pleasant evening in the pub.
A6024 Holme Moss: A635 Saddleworth Moor: A62 Standedge: A640: M62/A672: A58 White House Inn
White House Inn, Blackstone Edge
Littleborough (2 miles)
Standedge, White House Inn, Blackstone Edge (wild)
798m ascent, 910m descent, total 68.9 miles/110.9 km
An easier alternative avoiding the worst peat bogs, on the current Pennine Way down the Wessenden Valley
Head north west past the TV station and follow the Yorkshire boundary on the north east edge of Heyden Brook (no path), turning west as the land levels out to reach the trig point on Black Hill. Purists can follow the original Pennine Way north west across Saddleworth (see main route) but this partly paved alternative route follows the current Pennine Way down the Wessenden valley, where there's an escape route to Marsden for cold, tired and hungry walkers, and a bus can be taken to Standedge to rejoin the route after drying out and/or refuelling. Hardy walkers will follow the Pennine Way to Black Moss reservoir, where we rejoin the main route, cleaner and fitter after avoiding the black sludge.
A6024 Holme Moss: A635 Wessenden Head: A62 Standedge: A640: M62/A672: A58 White House Inn
White House Inn, Blackstone Edge
Littleborough (2 miles)
Standedge, White House Inn, Blackstone Edge (wild)
553m ascent, 626m descent, total 81.5 miles/131.2 km
Easier walking at first on flat reservoir paths, passing Stoodley Pike and the Calder valley, then on to the remote Pack Horse Inn
Follow the easy walking along the reservoir paths from the White House, then head out across the moor back into Yorkshire to the famous monument Stoodley Pike. Climb its 39 steps for a better view, then continue on past probably the best natural water source on the entire walk (see if you can find it!). Descend into the bustling Calder valley through Callis Wood, and follow the complicated Pennine Way up the other side, passing the famous Aladdin's Cave shop in Colden where you can buy just about anything. From Colden, head out onto the open moors towards Widdop. On a clear day up on this moor there's a view back to Black Hill with its TV mast, with Bleaklow and Kinder Scout beyond - a great motivational sight for bedraggled Pennine Way walkers heading south. The Packhorse Inn is a famous Pennine Way pub, but watch out if you like chips, as they don't serve them! You may get a bed here, or you can camp in the car park if you're tough and hard, like me. I booked a room.
Calder Valley: Hebden Bridge
A58 White House Inn: A646 Calder Valley: Colden: Packhorse Inn
Packhorse Inn, Widdop Moor
Packhorse Inn, Widdop Moor
Packhorse Inn, Widdop Moor
777m ascent, 836m descent, total 95.2 miles/153.2 km
A traverse of the Brontë moors and the wild Ickornshaw moors to the lovely village of Lothersdale
After a beer, sleep and snap (a Yorkshire word) at the Pack Horse Inn, continue through the Brontë moors up to Top Withins, singing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights song at the top of your voice, and watch out for Japanese way signs. Drop down to Ponden where there are a couple of pubs a short distance away, and a camp site. Now you say tara (another Yorkshire word) to the Brontë moors as you climb up from Ponden Reservoir, cross another road then strike out north west onto Ickornshaw Moor. Cross the moor and drop down into the village of Ickornshaw (no facilities, but Cowling is not far away). Follow the Pennine Way carefully to Lothersdale, nestling in a steep sided valley, where the Hare and Hounds awaits. Accommodation is scarce around here, but there's a camp site 300m from the route. Failing that, a bus to Skipton might be your best bet.
Haworth: Cowling: Lothersdale
Packhorse Inn: Ponden: Ickornshaw A6068: Lothersdale
Hare and Hounds, Lothersdale
Cowling (0.5 miles)
593m ascent, 590m descent, total 110.2 miles/177.3 km
The last climb of the southern Pennines before entering the Yorkshire Dales National Park for the first time
Climb out of Lothersdale village up to Pinhaw Beacon, the last height before the River Aire lowland interlude. At 388m, its height is modest, but due to its position there are far reaching views all around. The Way now drops down to Thornton-in-Craven, and from there there's a delightful canal side walk to East Marton with its famous double arched bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Have a pint to congratulate yourself on your first 100 miles (roughly), then head north out of East Marton and scale the low hills on the way to Gargrave, a pretty townlet on the River Aire, with numerous shops, pubs and cafés. Cross the river and the Leeds and Liverpool canal, then head north on the road out of the town to enter the Yorkshire Dales National Park near Bell Busk, and rejoin the River Aire south of the village of Airton. Follow the river bank north past Hanlith Hall to the famous Yorkshire Dales village of Malham, where the Lister Arms and the Buck Inn both do accommodation. Have a well earned rest after a long day, and consult your map and the weather forecast as you have a decision to make in the morning.
Lothersdale: Pinhaw: Thornton A56: East Marton A59: Gargrave A65: Airton: Malham
Masons Arms, Gargrave: Buck Inn, Lister Arms, Malham
Buck Inn, Lister Arms, Malham
927m ascent, 893m descent, total 125 miles/201.2 km
From Malham there's a choice of routes - the main route heads north for Malham Cove, but in good weather the Goredale Scar alternative is an awesome walk
On the main route follow the hoards to Malham Cove, where once a huge waterfall tumbled down, reputed to be last seen about 300 years ago, until the rains of December 2015 when once again the waterfall fleetingly appeared. Climb the steps to the left of the cove, and enjoy the magnificent limestone pavement and dry valley (except for December 2015) to the north. Keep on the Pennine Way to Malham tarn, passing Water Sinks, where the stream disappears underground to reappear south of Malham, NOT at the base of the cove. Skirt the tarn to the east and north, pass Malham Tarn House, then turn right to Tennant Gill Farm on the track up to Fountains Fell. Keep going up to pass close to the summit, the highest point so far on the walk (soon to be beaten) and keep on the Pennine Way down to the road. Turn left and follow the road, with Pen-y-Ghent in view on the right. Head for Churn Milk Hole, then climb the awesome mountain of Pen-y-Ghent at 694m, one of the famous Yorkshire 3 peaks with its limestone and gritstone steps. Traverse the summit and drop down to Horton-in-Ribblesdale where there are pubs, a camp site and a station. There are two pubs in the village - the Golden Lion and the Crown. Sadly, the Crown was (when I visited in 2016) the type of pub where the management complain about the customers disturbing their peaceful weekends, so I recommend the Golden Lion. If you must go in the Crown, ensure you read the many notices telling what you can and cannot do, and watch out for the 50p debit card charge, even if (like I did) you spend £80 in there. Nice pub, but one to avoid I'm afraid, in my opinion of course.
Malham: Malham Tarn: Tennant Gill Farm: Dale Head Farm: Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Crown Hotel, Golden Lion, Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Crown Hotel, Golden Lion, Horton-in-Ribblesdale
875m ascent, 835m descent, total 125 miles/201.2 km
Warning: This route involves steep rock scrambling, and is unsafe in wet weather or if you get dizzy when you wear high heels
Head SOUTH (yes south) back along the Pennine Way, then turn left along Goredale Beck to Janet's Foss waterfall, a delightful spot. Continue on, with the deep valley closing in, until, rounding a bend, Goredale Scar appears with its waterfall. If you arrive here and you don't fancy it, you'll have to retrace your steps to Goredale Bridge and follow the route from there to rejoin the Pennine Way on the limestone pavement above Malham Cove. It's still worth it though, as Goredale Scar is a magnificent sight, one of the highlights of Yorkshire. Pressing on, there are 3 routes up - left, centre and right. The left way is easiest, the middle way is a tricky scramble, and the right way is probably the wrong way, a proper climb where you'll get soaked by the descending water. Be careful! After the climb, the route climbs steeply onto the open grassy hills above. Continue on to the road and follow this to Malham Tarn, where we rejoin the main route. Take time to study your map around here, in particular the various streams which appear and disappear in this famous limestone country. And how does a tarn appear in a landscape where streams disappear underground without warning?
Malham: Goredale Bridge: Malham Tarn: Tennant Gill Farm: Dale Head Farm: Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Crown Hotel, Golden Lion, Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Crown Hotel, Golden Lion, Horton-in-Ribblesdale
714m ascent, 660m descent, total 136.5 miles/219.7 km
Classic Yorkshire walking today, as we leave the Pennine Way and follow the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks walk over Ingleborough to Chapel-le-Dale
This is a magnificent route which visits Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill on the way to the summit of Ingleborough, through classic limestone country. Climb up Sulber Nick on the 3 Peaks motorway from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, but just beyond Sulber turn south west, so we can take in the magnificent limestone features of Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill on the way to the summit. You're now in some of the best walking country in Britain, so make sure your camera is fully charged and make the most of it. Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill are worth a visit, but there's a charge at Ingleborough Cave, and on Bank Holidays a further charge at Gaping Gill if the potholers' winch is running. There's a useful café at Ingleborough cave, but the toilets there are strictly out of bounds unless you are actually taking the cave tour. After leaving the cave, there's an easy scramble up the impressive Trow Gill, then climb towards Gaping Gill, which is a nice spot for lunch. Assuming you don't fall into Gaping Gill, follow the steep track up to the south buttress of Ingleborough, before finally doubling back to reach the summit at 723m, the highest point so far on the walk. Enjoy the all round views, including the Lake District, then head north east from the summit and drop down steeply in fine limestone scenery. Watch out for the interestingly named Braithwaite Wife Hole on your way - a huge chasm just off the path to your right. It's not far now to the Old Hill Inn in Chapel-le-Dale, but there are only 2 rooms, so book in advance if you can. They are closed in the afternoons, theoretically, but if you're staying there a couple of pints will be served! Campers can pitch up on their land if you promise to refresh yourself in the pub, and there's another camp site on Philpin lane on the way up to Whernside. If you do get chatting to locals in the pub, make sure Mr Braithwaite is not there before discussing his wife's hole, especially if you've taken photos of it! There's an interesting wagon wheel in the bar, and allegedly a skilled caver can get through all the gaps between the spokes. Don't blame me if you get stuck.
Horton-in-Ribblesdale B6479: Chapel-le-Dale B6255
Old Hill Inn, Chapel le Dale
Old Hill Inn, Chapel le Dale
Old Hill Inn, Philpin Lane, Chapel le Dale
616m ascent, 660m descent, total 145.8 miles/234.6 km
The highest point on the entire walk today, Whernside 736m, on a short day so you've plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent views from Whernside summit
From Chapel-le-Dale, head down the main road just after the pub, then turn right on Philpin Lane past a farm and camp site. This is the 3 Peaks motorway, so on a weekend watch out for tired walkers rushing south on the northbound carriageway. Plough on ever onward, ever upward, until you reach the summit ridge, then follow the wall north to the summit of Whernside, at 736m the summit of the entire Wild Yorkshire Way. Head north and watch out for the lovely collection of tarns on the northern spur of Whernside, which would be a delightful wild camping spot if you want to cut short the day, or even extend the previous day, but the path to the tarns is indistinct. The route heads down to the east, still on the 3 Peaks path, before joining the Dales HighWay. Watch out for an impressive waterfall on Force Gill to your right. As you approach the railway line, double back near the entrance to the Blea Moor railway tunnel and look for the track up the moor following the line of air shafts and spoil heaps. The path is very indistinct in the area of the tunnel entrance, but you'll pick up a good track alongside the first spoil heap. In mist, head due east from above the tunnel entrance, cross the stream and climb until you reach the track, then head north on it. Keep on relentlessly up the track, before dropping steeply down in improving surroundings to the northern end of the tunnel. Keep on past the charming Dent Head Farm, and watch out for a retired brigadier with a superb handlebar moustache having a beer on his garden bench - if you've time stop for a chat to him for interesting information about the area. Continue on until you reach the road and follow this to Cow Dub Farm, where you can camp if you wish for a small fee. There's also a pub here, the Sportsman's Inn, but sadly this pub is not always open, does not allow you to use their WiFi (important in an area where there's no mobile signal), won't let you charge your phone, and is generally unwelcoming. As its name suggests, it caters more for the sort of people who have fun killing birds and animals, rather than enjoying them in their rightful home. They do have rooms however, and there are also camping facilities a mile down the road at Ewegales near Cowgill. Dent station is also close by, although you'll have to climb up the road to reach it.
Chapel-le-Dale B6255: Dent Head Farm: Cow Dub
Sportsman's Inn, Cow Dub
Sportsman's Inn, Cow Dub
Whernside Tarns (wild): Cow Dub Farm: Ewegales (1 mile)
881m ascent, 552m descent, total 159.3 miles/256.4 km
A very hard day ending with a wild camp on Mallerstang Edge on Yorkshire's western boundary, looking down into the upper Eden valley and over to the Lake District
Make no mistake, today is a hard day, although there are alternatives available if the weather is bad. From the farm, head back up the road and take the bridleway up the north bank of Artengill Beck. Just before the summit a bridleway turns left, and this is the recommended bad weather route, as navigation become difficult from now on. On the main route in good weather, continue for a little further then turn left up hill at the col, and climb to Great Knoutberry Hill. This is a tremendous viewpoint, one of the best in the Dales, the highlight being the majestic profile of Scafell and Scafell Pike, separated by Broad Stand and Mickledore. From here, things get tricky, as there's no obvious path. If you head slightly east of north, you will reach Widdale Tarns, and from there you can tramp north across the open moor to eventually reach a track down to the Coal Road. The quickest route down is north west, picking a route between ankle breaking tussocks of grass. There is a path marked on some maps, but I could find no trace of it on the ground. In poor weather, this should be avoided and in fact there's no point as there will be no view to enjoy, so take the bridleway which contours around the fell to join the Coal Road. In really bad weather, just take the road north west from Cow Dub Farm and turn right past Dent station on the Coal Road. I'm not normally a fan of road walking, but the Coal Road is an exception - a magnificent high level route with superb views including the Scafells and Great Gable to the west. Eventually, you will descend to Garsdale Station, but sadly there are no refreshments available here. Continue past the station and a row of cottages, then turn right and follow the bridleway to the Moorcock Inn - a very welcome establishment in upper Wensleydale. Good food and accommodation is available here, but it's probably too early (unless you get a taxi back later, see below), so on we go. Follow the bridleway north east past the River Ure up onto the ridge, then contour north west, passing the infant River Ure, until you reach Hell Gill Bridge. At this point a decision needs to be made which depends on your fitness, equipment and weather. The route heads uphill from here on to Mallerstang Edge, where I camped wild, but many walkers will not want to camp. Once you head up here, the next habitation is not until Ravenseat near Keld, and the only escape route is the B6270 road between Kirkby Stephen and Keld, where you will need a taxi. If you're aiming for the B6270 road, this will add over 4 miles and some more climbing to an already long day. The third alternative is to descend from Hell Gill to the B6259 road, then get a taxi back to the Moorcock Inn. There's a very convenient taxi company right next door, which also offers high quality accommodation, but you will have to climb up again the next day. On our route, turn right after Hell Gill alongside a coppice, where there's no path. A fence roughly shows the way up, and it's difficult going. At about the 500m contour, look out for a faint quad bike track, which you can then follow up to the summit of Gregory Chapel and beyond. I camped near a wind shelter on Hangingstone Scar near Raven's Nest, but you can choose your own pitch. Obviously any extra miles you do will reduce your load tomorrow, so enjoy your night in the Wild Yorkshire Hills.
Dent: Garsdale: Kirkby Stephen
Cow Dub Farm: Coal Road: A684 Moorcock Inn
Kirkby Stephen: Moorcock Inn
Mallerstang Edge (wild)
496m ascent, 724m descent, total 173.2 miles/278.7 km
Another wild day, joining the great Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk on Nine Standards Rigg and following it to Keld
If you camped out somewhere on Mallerstang Edge, there are a couple of alternatives. Your first decision is to decide whether to follow the edge itself to the north, which is exhilarating but there's no discernible path. An easier choice, and a must in bad visibility, is to locate the quad bike track which you followed yesterday, and continue on it uphill to the summit of Gregory Chapel at 695m. Follow the track north via High Seat (709m) and High Pike Hill (642m), before descending to the B6270 road. If you pressed on to here yesterday, your best bet for a bed is Kirkby Stephen, which has plenty of B and Bs because of its elevated status as a Coast to Coast staging point, and you may even get someone to pick you up from the road. If you do find your way to Kirkby Stephen, make sure you don't get attacked by the resident parrots. We're in Cumbria here, but that's OK as Cumbria is the only other county in England to rival Yorkshire for beauty! From the road, follow the Coast to Coast "Green Route" across the western flank of Nine Standards Rigg. The paths over the Rigg are divided up into 3 routes at different times of year, to avoid erosion caused by countless Coast to Coast walkers. The Green Route does not actually visit the summit, so we need to leave it at its highest point near Rollinson Gill and continue upwards. Eventually you will think you've seen the summit trig point, but actually we bypass the summit and arrive at a view point, and the famous Nine Standards are just beyond. There's a good shelter at the Standards for lunch, then retrace your steps to the viewpoint and on to the true summit at 662m, where there's another shelter nearby. The "decorated" summit of Nine Standards Rigg is impressive, boasting the Nine Standards, the view point, the summit trig point and several wind shelters. The view in good weather is amazing, including the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and even the far off North York Moors which we will meet intimately much later in our walk. In bad weather, make sure you find the summit before continuing on back into Yorkshire on boggy ground on the Coast to Coast Walk "Red Route", heading south to join a track near Ney Gill. There's a free for all cabin up ahead providing emergency accommodation if you're tired or fed up. Assuming you're not fed up, continue on to Ravenseat, where refreshments are available. You'll get chatting to Coast to Coast walkers here, so don't forget to mention the Wild Yorkshire Way so they can tackle it next year. After a brew, you have an option to head north east over Robert's Seat to the famous Tan Hill Inn (see alternative route). On the main route, continue in beautiful surroundings along the Coast to Coast route, but I recommend you join the road at the first bridge over the Swale as you'll be tired by this time and the last climb can be avoided. You will pass Keld Bunk Barn, where camping is available, and soon Keld Lodge will come into view - this is a hotel with beer, food and rooms, but it is usually booked up with Coast to Coast walkers. Further camping is available down the hill in Keld village, but try to stay away from the river, as midges are the tiniest of creatures but the greatest of nuisances. Have a good night in Keld, but don't expect to sit outside on a summer evening, unless you wear a space suit.
Kirkby Stephen: Keld
B6270: Ravenseat: Keld Lodge
Ravenseat (unlicensed): Keld Lodge
Keld Lodge, Butt House, Keld
Ravenseat: Keld Bunk Barn, Rukins, Keld
958m ascent, 1073m descent, total 173.2 miles/278.7 km
An extremely long, hard and rough day to visit England's highest pub, the Tab Hill Inn
This is a route for really fit and strong walkers, nearly 20 miles and 1000m of ascent and descent, and those who know me will realise why I didn't do it. The Tan Hill Inn on the Pennine Way is the true highest pub in England, despite other pubs claiming the same. The main route heads from Ravenseat to Keld, as despite the attractions of the Tan Hill Inn the walking is only average, and it's a big detour. However, you could split it into 2 days by staying at Ravenseat (or getting a taxi from there and back in the morning), or by staying at the Tan Hill Inn for a short day to Keld on the next day. The Tan Hill Inn is loved by walkers and bikers, but be careful - the loveable but eccentric landlady has been known to snatch buzzing and vibrating mobiles from customers and drop them in a glass of water. Rooms and camping are available here, along with beer and food. Follow the main route to Ravenseat, then just beyond the farm turn left and climb up to Robert's Seat. Cross the lonely moor before descending to West Stonesdale, then climb up again to Tan Hill, joining the road just before the pub. From the pub, head south on the Pennine Way, but be sure to step aside to make room for PW walkers heading for Kirk Yetholm - they'll need all their energy on the morass of Sleightholme Moor if it's wet. They won't have heard of the Wild Yorkshire Way, but if you get chatting you could always Bluetooth them a link. Follow the Pennine Way south all the way to Keld, through old mine workings (more of which we will see later). This alternative rejoins the main route at East Stonesdale bridge, but if you are heading for Keld Lodge I'm afraid you will have to climb the hill and retrace your steps in the morning.
Kirkby Stephen: Keld
B6270: Ravenseat: Tan Hill: Keld Lodge
Tan Hill Inn: Keld Lodge
Tan Hill Inn: Keld Lodge, Butt House, Keld
Ravenseat: Tan Hill Inn: Keld Bunk Barn, Rukins, Keld
556m ascent, 708m descent, total 185.1 miles/297.9 km
Today we continue on the Coast to Coast Walk through the old Swaledale mine workings to the welcoming village of Reeth
Once again today there are two alternatives - the Coast to Coast route high up through the old mine workings, or a beautiful low level route along the banks of the River Swale. The high level route is very interesting for those into old industrial relics, but not pretty, and in bad weather you would be better off taking the alternative. On both routes head down the hill to Keld village, then take the Coast to Coast path down to the river, where the Pennine Way, Coast to Coast and Wild Yorkshire Way combine for about 100m. Cross the bridge and leave the Pennine Way heading upstream to Tan Hill, and turn downstream on the C to C path. You can think of your own pun as you approach Crackpot Hall, I'm saying nowt. At this point the main route starts to climb the moor, whereas the alternative heads straight on, contouring the hillside. Follow the track up and across the open moor before dropping steeply down to Gunnerside Beck by some ruined mine buildings. Climb steeply up the other side to join another track in bizarre scenery. Believers of daft conspiracy theories will probably think the famous 1969 moon walk scene from Tranquillity Base was actually filmed around here - "Just one small step on the Coast to Coast, a giant leap on the Wild Yorkshire Way". Eventually you drop down to a long easy track at a fast pace, passing the Old Gang smelt mine, before reaching the road at Surrender Bridge. Be careful here (do you detect the voice of experience?) as a good path heads straight on. This path, like growing old, is a trap. The correct route crosses the road north-east of the bridge, then follows the Coast to Coast route past Cringley Bottom, which is not an illness. Keep on the C to C until you reach the pretty village of Reeth, with shops, 3 pubs, buses and a camp site.
Keld: Surrender Bridge: Reeth
Kings Arms, Black Bull, Buck, Reeth
Kings Arms, Black Bull, Buck, Reeth
178m ascent, 287m descent, total 185.1 miles/297.9 km
A beautiful and welcome low level route along the pretty River Swale
The past few days have been tough high level walking, possibly involving wild camping and lots of ascent and descent, so you may feel like a more gentle, rural and pastoral day. If so, this walk will be a delight. Follow the main route until just before Crackpot Hall, but carry straight on along a bridleway high above the River Swale. The path slowly descends, and there are a few hints of the old lead workings which are abundant on the high level route. Follow the path south, and watch out for a right fork where the bridleway climbs the hill, near a footbridge. Take this fork and follow the river closely to Ivelet bridge, but don't cross it - remain on the north bank. Follow the road to the village of Ivelet, then turn right to cross Shore Gill, heading for Gunnerside. There's a trap here - as you approach Gunnerside, leave the river and head directly for the village. The riverside path eventually gets blocked by Gunnerside Beck, forcing you through the village anyway. Have a pint in the Kings Head, then leave the village directly in front of the pub and turn immediately east to eventually rejoin the river. The path now sticks close to the river, with a short stretch of road walking, until it crosses an unusual island via 2 fords in the path, which are usually dry except when the river is high. The next section is interesting, as the path follows the top of a stone built flood wall for a while, a miniature version of the Pennine Way on Hadrian's Wall. Keep on along the river, and eventually the path doubles back steeply uphill to join the road. The next mile is unpleasant road walking, as the road is quite bendy and undulating and the verges are narrow. The usual rule is to walk on the right, but I vary this so I can be seen from a distance when a bend or summit obscures the drivers' view of me. Eventually a welcome path appears on the right, which follows the river to the south of Heelaugh village. Follow this path all the way into the village, leaving the river on the approach, where you can enjoy a well-earned pint in one of the 3 pubs.
Keld: Ivelet Bridge: Gunnerside: B6270: Heelaugh: Reeth
Kings Head, Gunnerside: Kings Arms, Black Bull, Buck, Reeth
Kings Arms, Black Bull, Buck, Reeth
572m ascent, 602m descent, total 196.7 miles/316.6 km
A shortish but delightful day, crossing high over Greets Hill into Wensleydale and visiting the famous Aysgarth Falls, before heading into West Burton for the night
Head out of Reeth to the west and make for the River Swale, crossing at a footbridge on the the south bank. We now start the high crossing from Swaledale to Wensleydale, so climb steeply up onto Harkerside Moor on a public bridleway which eventually meets a minor road from Grinton to Castle Bolton. After a short stretch on the road the bridleway branches off right and continues climbing up to Greets Hill at 511m. This is still old lead mining country with plenty of abandoned shafts around, so stick to the path. It's also grouse shooting country, so if you see any gentry with guns make sure you sling them down the nearest mine shaft so the birds can enjoy the open moors without being shot at. The route now turns due south and drops down into Apedale on a good track. Watch out for the free for all bothy (Dent Houses) alongside Apedale Beck, which is open to walkers, before eventually reaching Castle Bolton in Wensleydale. From here head south west to the famous Asygarth Falls, one of the highlights of all Yorkshire, and watch out for dippers and wagtails alongside the beautiful river. We head through the village of Aysgarth and on to our final destination for today, pretty West Burton. There's accommodation at the Fox and Hounds, and at nearby Thoralby the George Inn also has rooms. There's also a camp site near Thoralby by the river in Bishopdale.
Reeth: Castle Bolton: Aysgarth: West Burton
Reeth: Grinton Moor: Castle Bolton: Aysgarth: West Burton
Fox and Hounds, West Burton: George Inn, Thoralby (1 mile)
Aysgarth: Fox and Hounds, West Burton: George Inn, Thoralby (1 mile)
Dent Houses (bothy): Castle Bolton: Thoralby (1 mile)
841m ascent, 314m descent, total 209.1 miles/336.5 km
An exhilarating climb above Bishopdale over Wasset Fell to Naughtberry Hill, followed by tremendous ascents of Buckden Pike and Great Whernside
The next 2 days are possibly the hardest on the entire route, and are very boggy in places, particularly on Little Whernside and the featureless moor to Great Haw. It's a 28 mile 2 day slog from here to Healey with no water, no accommodation and just 1 road. A 2 day lower level alternative is available in bad weather, or if you don't like bogs. For the next few days, my suggestions for overnight stops are just that - suggestions, and they won't suit everybody. I've tried to plan the route so you can find alternative stopping points if you prefer. For example, I camped on Great Whernside summit, but if you prefer a nice bed you can stop at the road below the mountain and get a taxi down to Kettlewell for the night, although that will leave you with a tough 17 mile slog the next day. The first section from West Burton climbs high above Bishopdale, and is pathless and boggy higher up, although navigation is helped by walls and fences. In bad weather, you could take a low level route up the Walden valley to Walden Head, but eventually you'll still have to climb up to join the main route on Buckden Pike. Anyway, let's get going, so head south-west on the road out of the village and take the path alongside Little Beck, before branching off to the right to Newbiggin. Follow the road through the village, then bear left onto the Wasset Fell Road track which climbs Newbiggin Pasture to Wasset Fell with its old lead mine workings. After Wasset Fell the track eventually peters out, but a fence appears guiding the way to Naughtberry Hill, our next objective, in difficult terrain. You may find a quad bike track to help if you're lucky. Keep on endlessly down the south-western flank of Naughtberry Hill to a boggy col, then tackle the final trudge up to Buckden Pike where we breach the 700m contour for the 4th time on the walk. In bad weather (or extreme thirst) there's a tempting escape route from Buckden Pike down to the White Lion Inn at Cray, and from there downstream alongside the River Wharfe to Kettlewell, from where you can rejoin the route tomorrow on Great Whernside. On the main route from the trig point, head south along the ridge across Starbotton Fell, passing a lovely memorial to a Polish air accident, towards Tor Mere, where the path drops down to the road at its highest point, Little Hunters Sleets. Kettlewell is about 2.5 miles down the road to the south west, where there are pubs, shops and B & Bs for an evening in Wharfedale, but those hardy souls amongst you may wish press on steeply up to Great Whernside at 704m for a wild camp for the night. If you need water, make sure you get some from Park Gill Beck (descending if necessary) before heading up, as there's none higher up and we've a long ridge walk tomorrow. The path up to Great Whernside is not too bad and there are magnificent views from the summit ridge in good weather. It's an attractive mountain, with rock formations and a huge cairn on the summit.
West Burton: Kettlewell
West Burton: Newbiggin: Little Hunters Sleets
White Lion, Cray (1 mile): Buckden (1.5 miles): Kettlewell (2.5 miles)
White Lion, Cray (1 mile): Buckden (1.5 miles): Kettlewell (2.5 miles)
Little Hunters Sleets (wild): Great Whernside (wild): Kettlewell (2.5 miles)
229m ascent, 265m descent, total 209.1 miles/336.5 km
A short but pretty rural alternative in Lower Wensleydale, avoiding the torture of Great and Little Whernside
On arriving at West Burton, you've tackled most of the Yorkshire Dales since Malham, with steep climbs in the Three Peaks and wild pathless terrain on Mallerstang Edge. When you look at the route from here to Healey on your map and on Google Earth, you may prefer a lower level alternative, especially in bad weather. Make no mistake, the 25 mile 2 day walk through bogs and groughs on the main route from West Burton will challenge the fittest walker, and it involves a wild camp or a significant loss of height at the end of the first day. So here's your pretty alternative, which rejoins the main route at Masham. From the village green, leave the village to the north-east on the road, then turn right past Flanders Hall to join Morpeth Gate, a good bridle track climbing steeply up under Morpeth Scar and (further up) Dove Scar. It's only a short climb, and the path eventually swings round to the east and contours the hill. It's easy walking although the ground is rather stony underfoot. There are magnificent views of Lower Wensleydale and across to Castle Bolton and the high moors separating Wensleydale and Swaledale, which we traversed yesterday. If you're thirsty after about 3 miles, you can descend to West Witton where there are several pubs and shops, but you'll have to regain the height later. Our track continues on until we meet a minor road, which we follow east past Penhill Farm on Middleham High Moor. Eventually we leave the Dales and enter Middleham Gallops, where some of the finest racehorses in England are put through their paces. You're almost certain to see these magnificent animals, but keep to the public paths so you don't get trampled underfoot. Keep on endlessly through the gallops, slightly downhill, until we eventually emerge at a road just outside Middleham. Cross the road and follow the path to the south of the village, so you can have a look at the impressive Middleham Castle. There are plenty of accommodation and refreshment options in Middleham, but my favourite is the Richard III Hotel where the helpful landlady Sharon and her lovely staff will look after you for the night. You will be woken in the morning by racehorses clip-clopping through the village, so get an early night. After a few beers, of course.
West Burton: West Witton: Middleham
West Burton: West Witton: Spigot Lodge: Middleham
Fox and Hounds, West Witton (1.5 miles): Richard III, White Swan, Black Bull, Dante Arms, Middleham
Richard III, White Swan, Middleham
274m ascent, 789m descent, total 224.2 miles/360.8 km
A hard and boggy traverse over the "other" Whernsides, Great and Little, then a moorland trudge descending eventually into little known Colsterdale as we leave the Yorkshire Dales
If you spent the night in Kettlewell you will have a tough climb up to Great Whernside to start, so get a taxi or persuade (bribe) someone to give you a lift back up to Little Hunters Sleets to ease the pull up onto the summit. From the summit retrace your steps back north along the ridge, dropping below the 700m contour for the last time on the walk, and continue on to the liquefied summit of Little Whernside in very difficult terrain. At the col between Great and Little Whernside, you may be tempted to take the bridleway down into Nidderdale to get away from the bogs, and I wouldn't blame you if you did - you can regain the main route at Gollinglith Foot (pronounced "Gownley Foot") or Healey. For those with suitable footwear and gaiters, wallow along the featureless flat endless moor via Little Whernside, where we now leave the 600m contour for the last time on the walk, to Dead Man's Hill and on to Great Haw. In bad weather this section will be torture, and as the great Wainwright once wrote "you will feel a distinct urge to lay down and let life ebb away". However, there are no navigation difficulties as there is a fence or wall throughout. Descend from Great Haw, dropping below the 500m contour for the last time, and follow the York Dike Drain almost to South Haw before turning left to descend into Colsterdale via Steel House Gill, the first running water for 24 miles, where you can wash the black oozing mess from your body (usually from your waist down). Continue along the valley to Gollinglith Foot, which marks a major change in terrain. Here we leave the Dales and start our low level country ramble to the North York Moors, and the good news is there's no more peat to come, although there may be some mud, or a similar substance usually produced by cows. The bad news is that Gollinglith Foot (pronounced "Gownley Foot") is still remote and has no bus service, but there's a nice B & B about 2 miles further along the road at Healey, which is a good place for tonight's stop, especially if you wild camped on Great Whernside and spent today wobbling about in peat bogs. If you can stagger a bit further, there's a nice pub on the road to Fearby, where there's also a camp site.
Little Hunters Sleets: Colsterdale: Gollinglith Foot: Healey
Masham: Black Swan, Fearby (1 mile)
Firs Farm B & B, Healey: Masham: Black Swan, Fearby (1 mile)
Black Swan, Fearby (1 mile)
140m ascent, 178m descent, total 224.2 miles/360.8 km
A lovely easy stroll along the River Ure, passing Jervaulx Abbey on the way to rejoin the main route at Masham
Leave Middleham due south past the magnificent castle, but immediately turn left diagonally across the fields, signposted "Stepping Stones" on the flank of William's Hill to join the River Cover. There's a delightful set of stepping stones here, which you can cross if you prefer to take the path on the south side of the river. This will avoid a dangerous crossing of Cover Bridge later. However, if you want to visit the Cover Bridge Inn (and you should, if only to look at its beautiful beer garden), it is better to follow the north bank of the Rover Cover. By the way, the name is pronounced as if it rhymes with "over", rather than with "lover", but even the locals don't quite agree on this. If you visit the pub, be very careful crossing the Cover Bridge, as it's not wide enough for 2 vehicles and a walker to cross. The best tactic is to run like mad and hope for the best, but please be careful. Assuming you have negotiated the bridge safely, follow the river downstream until it joins the Ure, then keep on the bank of the Ure to Jervaulx Abbey, where there's a lovely café for refreshments. Our route heads through the beautiful abbey grounds, where you should avoid the main path heading south east to the road. Keep on heading east, eventually joining a minor road, then at Kilgram Grange turn sharp right, then left to cross Coultermire Plantation on pleasant walking to the tiny hamlet of Low Ellington, which has no facilities. From there it's tricky navigation on little-used paths, past High Mains farm to eventually join the River Ure for the third time on the walk. There's something very satisfying about walking along a wide slow moving river, especially when we remember crossing its infant version near Hell Gill Bridge on Abbottside Common about 5 or 6 days ago, and the magnificent Aysgarth Falls more recently. Follow the river downstream, and watch out for an angler's cabin, complete with alcohol stocks, on the river bank. Eventually we reach the small brewery town of Masham (pronounced Massum) at Masham Bridge. In Masham centre we rejoin walkers on the main route - assuming they have survived the horrors of the high Little Whernside ridge walk. One advantage of taking this alternative is that it knocks 3 miles off the slog from here to Ainderby Quernhow on the next day, so enjoy your evening in Black Sheep and Theakstons territory.
Middleham: Cover Bridge: Jervaulx Abbey: Low Ellington: Masham
Cover Bridge: East Witton (off route and posh): Masham
Cover Bridge: Masham
North Cote Farm, Masham
175m ascent, 291m descent, total 242.2 miles/389.8 km
A rural day through Masham, home of Theakstons Ale and Black Sheep, and a delightful saunter along the Ripon Rowel Walk by the River Ure, then some unpleasant road walking
Today starts off in beautiful rural surroundings on the Ripon Rowell walk, much of it along the banks of the River Ure which we last met at Aysgarth Falls and long before that on The High Way near Mallerstang Edge. From here to Kilburn is about 35 miles, which I did in 2 days but on reflection (and on viewing my blisters) many walkers would prefer to split it into 3 sections - Healey to West Tanfield (11.5 miles), West Tanfield to Carlton Miniot (11.3 miles), and Carlton Miniot to Kilburn (12 miles). Anyway, the first part of the walk to West Tanfield is delightful. Head out of Healey on the road, and turn right next to the village school before joining the Ripon Rowel Walk at a left turn. At the road, turn left up the hill and ignore the footpath signposted to the golf club, then turn right further along to continue the walk to Masham (pronounced Massum). Here you will find two of the finest of all industries - breweries, the first since High Bradfield ages ago on day 2. After suitable refreshments in Masham, continue along the Ripon Rowel walk along the banks of the River Ure, through lovely wooded gorges teeming with wildlife. Our destination for the evening is Ainderby Quernhow, but if you want to cut short the day at West Tanfield (recommended), there's a couple of pubs for a nice overnight stay. There's a camp site a mile further on at Sleningford Mill, but it's on the wrong side of the river, so unless you're a strong swimmer (or carrying a canoe in your pack) you'll have to retrace your steps in the morning. For those carrying on to Ainderby Quernhow, the route now gets a bit "fiddly", mainly caused by having to find crossing points for 3 major features - the rivers Ure and Swale, and the A1(M) motorway. There's no obvious route and some road walking, but console yourself with the thought that there's no peat bogs. Watch out when leaving West Tanfield, as the tempting Ripon Rowel Walk leaves the village south of the River Ure and there's no crossing point until Ripon, well off our route, although you could cheat and get a bus from Ripon to Thirsk, missing out the road walking sections. From the village centre head east on the road following the north bank of the river past a bridleway heading north, until you reach a collection of cottages called Manor Farm on the map, but now renamed Woodside House, near the deserted medieval village of East Tanfield. Ignore the first bridleway heading north, and turn left here onto a bridleway heading north east. It's a pleasant change from road walking, but there's little of interest until, ascending an almost imperceptible rise on the track, the distant outline of the North York Moors appears, with Hambleton End and the Cleveland Hills visible in good weather. This should urge you on a bit to join the B6267 road, then follow this under the A1(M) motorway to Ainderby Quernhow. You may question why I've shown this as a stopping point, since there's nothing here apart from houses - no pub (the one marked on the map is now a private house), no accommodation, no shop. The reason is that it's close to the A1 and therefore has a mobile signal on most networks, so you can book a hotel in Thirsk or Carlton Miniot from here. If you carried on, you'd eventually end up exhausted somewhere with no mobile signal. If you split the route at West Tanfield, as I recommend, you'll obviously continue on from here.
Healey: Masham: West Tanfield: Ainderby Quernhow
Healey: Masham: West Tanfield: Ainderby Quernhow
Bull Inn, Bruce Arms, West Tanfield
Bull Inn, Bruce Arms, West Tanfield
Sleningford Mill, West Tanfield (1 mile)
171m ascent, 121m descent, total 258.3 miles/415.7 km
Another longish day after yesterday's marathon, ending at a lovely pub in Kilburn below the White Horse
From Ainderby Quernhow, head south on a footpath giving pleasant relief from the road, and ignore 2 bridleways branching off to the left before curving round to rejoin the road, which we follow to Skipton on Swale. After the village we turn right on another bridleway, then left along the A167 for a short distance, then right again past a wooden lodge village to Carlton Miniot on the A61, where there's a couple of pubs and B & Bs, and Thirsk is not far away and has loads of accommodation possibilities. If you're continuing to Kilburn, follow the A61 for ages through the village to Thirsk railway station, then cross the bridge and take the footpath on the east side of the railway track to circumnavigate Thirsk racecourse to the north before entering Thirsk, where you can stock up on provisions. Now comes one of the most difficult sections of the walk, sadly caused by poor maintenance of footpaths in this area and in some cases intentional blocking of paths by farmers and landowners, which I've reported. If you're doing the entire 16 mile journey from Ainderby Quernhow to Kilburn, I recommend road walking for much of the route, as you'll find paths blocked by crops depending on the time of year. Anyway, leave Thirsk on the A170 road and continue along the road until you pass over the A19 road to Teesside. A good bridleway appears on the right, heading south east and developing into a delightful Green Lane past the impressive properties at Woodcock. Notice the faint stirrings in your calves and thighs, the tiny increase in your heart rate and your slightly faster breathing - all these symptoms are caused by the lovely things called contours on your map, which are slowly starting to reappear around here. Eventually you will emerge onto a road, which you can follow south to Bagby. Right, here's where it gets tricky. On the bend at Bagby you will see a sign Kilburn 3.5 miles - if you're tired and don't fancy tackling paths blocked by crops, piles of tree cuttings or thick hedges, I recommend you follow the road all the way to Kilburn. However, if you want to press on, take the bridleway due south to Thirkleby, which is easy to follow. Follow the route carefully, turning right down the hill to Thirkleby Beck, the following the bridleways to Little Thirkleby to rejoin the road. Ignore the first footpath on the left, which in theory could be your route, but you'll probably find it blocked somewhere. Take the bridleway Thwaites Lane, following it around Old Oak Cottages, then the difficulties start. A tempting bridleway is shown on the map, heading almost directly to Kilburn, but I found it blocked, intentionally, by crops. Rather than damage crops by asserting my right to use it, I trespassed around the edge of fields and eventually joined another bridleway near West Park Farm to the north. I've subsequently changed the route in this area, which involves a little more road walking towards Kilburn. In Kilburn, the Forresters Arms awaits, along with a choice of helpful smiling staff behind the bar. There are a couple of other B and Bs in the village, and the famous mouse man furniture factory. I would always spend the night here, but if you want to shorten your day tomorrow (and you're super fit or mad) you can arrange a lift back from Sutton Bank and tackle the White Horse climb this evening, before getting another lift back up tomorrow morning.
Thirsk: Bagby: Thirkleby: Kilburn
Ainderby Quernhow: Skipton on Swale: Carlton Miniot: Thirsk: Bagby: Thirkleby: Kilburn
Carlton Miniot: Thirsk: Bagby Inn, Bagby: Forresters Arms, Kilburn
Carlton Miniot: Thirsk: Bagby Inn, Bagby: Forresters Arms, Kilburn
533m ascent, 448m descent, total 272.5 miles/438.5 km
High ground at last, the famous White Horse and some of the finest views in England from the North York Moors escarpment, over the Hambleton Hills to Osmotherley
After a hearty breakfast in Kilburn, climb up the road to the famous White Horse, which actually is more grey than white, and check your heart rate app on your fitness watch thingy after a stiff climb. It's pleasant road walking at first, then navigation becomes surprisingly difficult as there are myriads of unmarked tracks in the woods caused by mountain bikers. The best plan is to ignore the paths shown on OS maps and follow a track which runs roughly parallel to the road on its steepest bits. If you managed to get to the White Horse without getting lost, you can relax. From here on we're following almost the entire length of both the Cleveland Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way for about 180 miles, and it's well signposted now all the way back to Stainborough. Follow the Cleveland Way north past the gliding club to Sutton Bank. There's a car park and café here, but don't be tempted to divert to the Hambleton Inn, which has sadly closed down. From the car park, head north on the Cleveland Way along the escarpment, with magnificent views across seemingly the whole of Yorkshire, including the beautiful Dales, now a fading memory from a few days ago. Keep along the escarpment, passing the (allegedly) "Finest View in England" to Sneck Yate, where the path crosses a road dropping steeply down to Boltby. Continue on, past the Paradise farms (nice tea room at High Paradise), to join a track skirting the east side of Boltby Forest. We're gradually climbing now, up to Black Hambleton via White Gill Head, where we can sit down and sing a well-known Bon Jovi song to celebrate reaching the half way point! From here we drop steeply down to Square Corner on the road above Osmotherley. Head west here, downhill past a pair of reservoirs, and follow the rather complicated Cleveland Way into the pretty village of Osmotherley, with its pubs, shops and cafés. Accommodation is available at the Queen Catherine and the Golden Lion, and there's a camp site just north of the village. Have a rest, as tomorrow is a hard day.
Kilburn: Sutton Bank: Osmotherley
Kilburn: Sutton Bank: Sneck Yate: Square Corner: Osmotherley
Queen Catherine, Golden Lion, Osmotherley
Queen Catherine, Golden Lion, Osmotherley
843m ascent, 761m descent, total 283.7 miles/456.6 km
A hard day, a roller coaster of ups and downs over the switchback Cleveland Hills, with fine views north to Teesside
Head north out of the village on the road, then turn left on a rising path past Lady's Chapel. At the entrance to Arncliffe Wood you will meet Wainwright's Coast to Coast path, so watch out for gridlock on the paths for the next 15 miles or so. Climb up through the wood past a telecomms station, and see if you can spot the trig point hidden behind a wall. Now head across the open moor to Scarth Nick, where we cross the road and head down through another wood, before turning sharp right and following the track to Huthwaite Green. From here, we begin a hard but delightful switchback traverse of the Cleveland Hills, one of the classic walks in this area. The first target is Live Moor, when the views start to open up, then on to Carlton Bank past a disused gliding club. From here we drop steeply down and cross the road to the Lord Stones Café, but be careful here. The café is, shall we say, not specifically designed for walkers, and you may have to dispense with your boots and put a tie on before venturing inside for a pint and some snap. Suitably refreshed, slog up onto Cringle Moor, a superb viewpoint, before once again descending, climbing and descending again. Weary now, we have one last climb ahead, past the hugely impressive Wainstones on Hasty Bank. Well, when I say "past", really I mean "through", as you have to find a way through the stones by scrambling about on a myriad of different routes. Be careful if the stones are wet! Once you reach the top above the stones, the end is near, but take a tip - if you need to phone a friend, or a pub (for example, the Buck Inn at Chop Gate) do it now, as mobile reception disappears from here on. The path follows the edge of Hasty Bank and eventually drops down to Clay Bank Top, where there's a car park usually filled with a fleet of coaches picking up Coast to Coast walkers. I recommend the Buck Inn at Chop Gate, about 2 miles south, as the German owner Wolfgang will come and pick you up if you're staying the night, and drop you off in the morning. Danke schön Wolfgang.
Osmotherley: Scarth Nick: Huthwaite Green: Lord Stones: Clay Bank Top
Lord Stones: Buck Inn, Chop Gate (2 miles)
Buck Inn, Chop Gate (2 miles)
Lord Stones: Great Broughton
432m ascent, 483m descent, total 296.4 miles/477 km
Good walking on the old mining railway, crossing the highest point in the North York Moors and passing Captain Cook's monument
From Clay Bank Top, follow the Cleveland Way signs steeply uphill towards Round Hill, the highest point in the North York Moors. The Wild Yorkshire Way is in grand company here, sharing the path with both the Cleveland Way and the Coast to Coast walk. The trig point on Round Hill is slightly off the path, but of course you will divert to visit it. Continue east on easy walking along the old mineral railway, and soon you'll reach Bloworth Crossing where the Coast to Coast path continues east towards Robin Hood's Bay. Having resisted the temptation to take this short cut, turn sharp left on the Cleveland Way along the edge of Greenhow Bank. The views here are magnificent, across the Teesside plain with Captain Cook's monument in full view, and back to the switchback ridge which we tackled yesterday. Watch out for a right fork in the easy path where the track heads down the hill, and keep on the Cleveland Way across Battersby Moor on a slightly rising path which eventually become a road, dropping down to the lovely hamlet of Kildale, where there's a café and even a railway station. Go down the road past the café and climb steeply up through the woods to the monument, which is there to commemorate the great seafaring explorer, not the Ashes winning former England cricket captain. From here, it's just a short walk down the hill through the woods to today's journey's end - Gribdale Gate. There are plenty of wild camping opportunities around here, and accommodation is available down the hill in Great Ayton, where the Royal Oak is particularly helpful as they operate a pick up and drop off service to/from Gribdale Gate.
Kildale: Great Ayton
Kildale: Great Ayton
Clay Bank Top: Kildale: Gribdale Gate
Royal Oak, Great Ayton
Royal Oak, Great Ayton
569m ascent, 751m descent, total 311.1 miles/500.7 km
A fine ascent to Roseberry Topping, good moorland walking and a gradual descent to the sea at Saltburn
I'm ashamed of my performance on this section back in 1983. Suffering from severe tummy turbulence, I skipped Roseberry Topping on my first Cleveland Way trip with my wife, to be constantly reminded of it for the next 30 years until I finally climbed it. So make sure you don't skip it - if you do you'll feel guilty for the rest of your life. Climb steeply up from Gribdale onto the moor until you reach a gate in the corner of the moor where the path branches off to Roseberry Topping. Dump your pack here, descend to the col and climb up to the modest summit at 320m, then retrace your steps with a smug satisfied feeling. Assuming you can find your pack again, head onwards over the moors and descend through Guisborough Woods to the little village of Slapewath, where we leave the North York Moors National Park. The last section can be confusing so study your map carefully. Having partaken of refreshments at the Fox and Hounds, climb up again to Airy Hill before passing through Skelton, which is not a typical country village, but has a myriad of shops for supplies. From here it's a pleasant walk along Skelton Beck and Saltburn Valley Gardens to the sea at Saltburn, where there's accommodation, pubs, shops and fish and chips.
Great Ayton: Guisborough: Skelton: Saltburn
Great Ayton: Saltburn
Gribdale Gate: A171 Slapewath: Skelton: Saltburn
Fox and Hounds, Slapewath: Saltburn
Margrove Park, Boosbeck
452m ascent, 450m descent, total 322.5 miles/519 km
Cliff top walking at its finest on Yorkshire's north east coast, with the quaint village of Staithes as the highlight
After the sea air wakes you up, take a short walk along the sea front before climbing up onto the cliffs above the North Sea. The whole of the east coast of Yorkshire is slowly sinking into the sea, so watch your step and be prepared for path diversions. If you're using an old map, get a new one (voice of experience) as the route will probably have changed. Drop down to Cattersty Sands which is the only beach in England with a steelworks on it (well, almost!). Skinningrove is interesting, but beautiful it is not. Climb up again onto Boulby cliffs, some of the highest in England, before descending to the quaint fishing village of Staithes, where there's food and drink available in abundance. Climb once again, and you'll realise that one of the features of the east Yorkshire coast is that you never get very high, as after all you're close to sea level, but there's loads of ascent and descent as the undulating cliffs drop to the sea where streams and rivers cut through them. Your legs will tell you in the evenings that your day had lots of ups and downs. Up on the cliffs again, past the isolated harbour of Port Mulgrave, and on to Runswick Bay for the night. Runswick Bay is a lovely spot, with a nice sea front café and a lovely pub - the Royal Hotel - just up the hill behind the café. Enjoy your evening and prepare for tomorrow's classic walk to Robin Hood's Bay, one of my favourite places in the world.
Saltburn: Staithes: Runswick Bay
Saltburn: Skinningrove: Boulby: Staithes: Port Mulgrave: Runswick Bay
Cod and Lobster, Captain Cook Inn, Staithes: Runswick Bay Hotel, Royal Hotel, Runswick Bay
Captain Cook Inn, Staithes: Runswick Bay Hotel, Runswick Bay
498m ascent, 498m descent, total 338.2 miles/544.3 km
More cliff top walking, through Whitby with its famous abbey, ending at the lovely village of Robin Hood's Bay, my favourite coastal place in England
Leave Runswick Bay with a walk along the sands, the lowest point on the walk - if you're carrying an altimeter, here's a good place to calibrate it. The cliffs are not so high around here, but there's still plenty of ups and downs. Follow the cliff-top Cleveland Way all the way to Sandsend, where there are shops, pubs and cafés, but it's too early yet for a stop and Whitby is up ahead. An unavoidable stretch of road walking follows, but the path soon turns off left through a golf club, before reaching the sea front promenade which is often washed with towering waves and spray in windy weather. Then comes Whitby, the largest town since Thirsk many miles back, and it's one of those places where you feel rather ostentatious with your boots, gaiters, rucksack and map case, especially in summer when it is heaving with tourists. But you're a tourist too, so plod on and climb the 199 steps to the abbey. Concentrate, as if you lose count you'll have to go back down and start again. From here on you're in magnificent cliff-top scenery, punctuated by Saltwick Bay caravan park which has a welcoming café for walkers. If it's foggy you'll need some ear plugs as you approach the Whitby fog signal - I've found the best tactic is to wait a safe distance to the north and count the time between blasts, then run like a gazelle to get past it before the next blast. If it goes off while you're alongside, it will blow you out onto Dogger Bank. At Maw Wyke Hole, we meet the Coast to Coast path again, and at this point you'll see walkers on it whooping with joy as they meet the North Sea for the first time. Join them on the rest of today's walk to Robin Hood's Bay, where you can accompany them in their celebrations at the Bay Hotel, the official end of the Coast to Coast. They may have finished, but you've still got 180 miles to go, so make sure they know that and enjoy your night in RHB. I love the Smugglers Bistro, pricey but quality, and the Bay bar is a pleasant place to watch the sun go down.
Runswick Bay: Sandsend: Whitby: Robin Hood's Bay
Runswick Bay: Kettleness: Sandsend: Whitby: Robin Hood's Bay
Sandsend: Whitby: Bay Hotel, Laurel, Robin Hood's Bay
Sandsend: Whitby: Bay Hotel, Smugglers Bistro, Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood's Bay
615m ascent, 615m descent, total 353.3 miles/568.6 km
A stiff climb to Ravenscar, and a coastal walk past secret wykes and bays to the bustling town of Scarborough
From RHB there's a path along the beach to Boggle Hole, but watch out for the tide as you've probably already had a bath just before setting off. The official Cleveland Way climbs the cliffs again, only to drop down to Boggle Hole to meet the unofficial beach route. From here, climb up again, with the high cliffs of Ravenscar up ahead, where the moors meet the sea. At Ravenscar there's a café, and also just about the finest hotel you'll meet on the Wild Yorkshire Way, the Raven Hall Hotel. It was here in 2014 that I was invited to briefly join in with a posh wedding (see photo gallery) on the outside lawn, with Robin Hood's Bay as a superb backdrop. A typical real ale walkers' pub it is not, but after the climb up from Stoupe Beck you'll appreciate a pint. After the hotel, don't miss the turning left to the cliffs, then follow the coast southwards, gradually losing height to Hayburn Wyke, a lovely secret bay only accessible on foot, by boat or in a submarine. Nestling in the woods just off route is the Hayburn Wyke Hotel, which also does accommodation, and the best way to reach it is to start the climb up from the beach before turning off to the right. Our route continues along the cliffs with no navigational challenges, and passes the Long Nab coastguard lookout, where I spent a starry night outside on the Cleveland Way in 2014. On to Scarborough, where the ostentatious feeling you noticed in Whitby will return. Plod on along the North Bay and round the cliff headland with Scarborough Castle perched on top, before arriving at today's destination - Scarborough Harbour. You may prefer to stay elsewhere, but there's accommodation, buses and trains a plenty here - and far too many pubs and hotels to mention by name. Personally, I would stay at the Hayburn Wyke Hotel, or camp wild somewhere on the cliffs, but of course it's up to you!
Robin Hood's Bay: Ravenscar: Scarborough
Robin Hood's Bay: Ravenscar: Scarborough
Raven Hall Hotel, Ravenscar: Hayburn Wyke Hotel: Scarborough
Raven Hall Hotel, Ravenscar: Hayburn Wyke Hotel: Scarborough
275m ascent, 215m descent, total 364 miles/585.8 km
Still on the cliffs, but softer now, to Filey Brigg where Cleveland Way meets the Yorkshire Wolds Way
Today we say "tara" to the cliffs and to the Cleveland Way, to join the Yorkshire Wolds Way on the next leg of our journey. Follow the sea front path in Scarborough South Bay, and follow the route carefully after the Spa as you climb up to a road, then enter a wood. Keep to the cliffs, and eventually you'll drop down a wooded path to Cayton Bay, where there's a caravan park and yet another café. Cleveland Way walkers are starting to get excited around here, but your celebrations are some way off yet. Climb up onto yet more cliffs, and watch out for seals on the rocks far below. Keep on a seemingly endless path through yet another holiday park, and eventually you'll arrive at the monument on Filey Brigg marking the end of both the Cleveland Way and the Wolds Way. Make sure you offer to take celebratory photos of any walkers arriving here at the same time as you, but then head on towards Filey on the Wolds Way, through yet another caravan park and along Filey beach to the centre. Try and find the Wolds Way to the railway station, but it's difficult in the busy streets. The station is our destination for the evening, and as ever there are too many pubs and hotels around here to mention individually. Tomorrow - the chalkland of the Wolds Way beckons.
Scarborough: Osgodby: Filey
Scarborough: Seamer: Filey
Scarborough: Osgodby: Cayton Bay: Filey
Cayton (1 mile): Gristhorpe
414m ascent, 377m descent, total 375.4 miles/604.1 km
A gentle but surprisingly remote day, climbing up onto the Yorkshire Wolds from the coastal plain of Filey
The Yorkshire Wolds don't look too impressive on a map, barely reaching 200m altitude, but don't let that fool you. There's plenty of ascent and descent, and some parts are very remote with limited refreshment or accommodation, so one or two of the Wolds days are quite long. Anyway, on we go, so head out of Filey through a housing estate on the path to Muston, where there's the Ship Inn, but it's too early to be of any real use. From here our route climbs up onto the first wold at Stockendale Farm, then into the delightful dry chalk valley of Camp Dale. Follow the switchback path over Flixton Wold to Staxton Wold, where there's a mysterious looking military communications station. Turn left here and eventually you'll descend to our destination for tonight, Ganton. The Greyhound Inn is a short distance away on the main road, and it's used to walkers because of the Wolds Way, so muddy boots and smelly armpits aren't a problem. Watch out for Wold Top bitter in the bar - highly recommended.
Filey: Muston: Ganton
Filey: Muston: Stockendale Farm: Sharpe Howe: Staxton Wold Farm: Ganton
Ship Inn, Muston: Greyhound, Ganton
499m ascent, 374m descent, total 392.2 miles/631.2 km
A long day in lovely Wolds chalkland scenery, moderate height but plenty of ascent and descent
Today is a long day, as there's little chance of accommodation without dropping down to North Grimston, but we've got to get "in sync" so we can enjoy great pubs at Huggate, Goodmanham and Welton on the next 3 nights. Anyway, let's stop nattering and set off. The Way starts off in the valley, heading west before briefly climbing up onto Sherburn Brow. Drop back down, nearly into Sherburn, which has good facilities if required. Be careful if nature calls around here - I once had a close shave with an electric fence while relieving bladder pressure. From Sherburn, the Way climbs back up again, then contours the escarpment with fine views to the north including the North York Moors far away. Watch out for the Wolds Way camp site on a short diversion, where there's a shop, then head steeply down through a wood to the village of Wintringham, which has neither a shop nor a pub, but the Lavender café is not far off route to the north. Our route climbs back up once again, initially on a road, then a zig-zag to ascend the escarpment into a wood and eventually to Settrington Beacon, on a minor road where the path exits the wood. You're tired now, but there's nothing here and it's mostly downhill to our destination at North Grimston. Cross the road and descend past the woods to Wood House Farm, where the path curves around the farm buildings on a good track. Do not follow the Wolds Way across the stream, but keep on the farm track down the valley until you reach the road. Turn right along the road and head for the Middleton Arms - there's accommodation here, but it's 70s style, avocado bath suite, brown tiles, that sort of thing. Nice beer and food though, and you may be able to camp outside if the pub is full.
Ganton: Sherburn: North Grimston
Ganton: Sherburn: Wold Farm: Wintringham: Settrington Beacon: North Grimston
Sherburn: Middleton Arms, North Grimston
Middleton Arms, North Grimston
Wolds Way Camping: Middleton Arms, North Grimston
636m ascent, 661m descent, total 407.1 miles/655.2 km
An historical day, through the famous deserted village of Wharram Percy and the lovely village of Thixendale
If you look at your map over breakfast, you'll notice a couple of tempting short cuts along roads to rejoin the Wolds Way, but the roads are busy and without footpaths. My advice is to retrace your steps and rejoin the Wolds Way, especially if you've a dog with you. When you reach the stream you may be able to follow it upstream to avoid climbing up and down again. When you regain the Wolds Way, climb steeply up to The Peak - a rather ambitious name for those who've been up on Kinder Scout in the Peak District! Cross the road and descend again to Wharram-le-Street, which is a lovely village but sadly has no shop, pub or refreshment opportunities. Turn right up the hill and follow the Wolds Way to the deserted ruined village of Wharram Percy with its impressive church. It's a nice place for lunch, then climb up Deep Dale (not to be confused with Preston's home ground), before following the Way west then south to the pretty village of Thixendale nestling deep in a valley. There's a pub here, the Cross Keys, although the opening times are erratic especially midweek, but they do have accommodation if open. Follow the road south west (NOT up the hill) before turning left into lovely Thixendale Wold countryside. At a crossroads of paths double back steeply uphill, then it's down and up to Fridaythorpe, which is pretty much the half-way point on the Wolds Way. Don't get excited by the tempting "PH" shown on maps - there was a pub here but (sadly a familiar story) it closed a few years ago. There is however a biker's café and a petrol station for provisions. Both are very helpful to walkers, and campers may be allowed at the café. Leave Fridaythorpe due south and descend a lovely dry valley, typical of the Wolds, before a steep climb and drop down to Huggate where the Wolds Inn is just off route up the hill in the village.
North Grimston: Fridaythorpe: Huggate
North Grimston: B1253: Wharram le Street: Thixendale: Gill's Farm: Fridaythorpe: Huggate
Cross Keys, Thixendale: Wolds Inn, Huggate
Cross Keys, Thixendale: Wolds Inn, Huggate
601m ascent, 623m descent, total 420.7 miles/677.1 km
An undulating Wolds day though magnificent countryside, ending at the Goodmanham Arms, one of the best pubs on the entire walk
Retrace your steps from Huggate village north to the Wolds Way, then turn left past Glebe Farm. Keep on the Way with magnificent views north and west, especially above Millington, and don't miss the left turn on the road at Kilnwick Percy. The way continues past the Warrendale Farms, where the lambs are particularly friendly in spring, but if you are heading for Pocklington you can carry straight on down the hill. Our route then makes its way with no navigational difficulties past Nurnburnholme and Londesborough, which are both nice villages but with no facilities. After Londesborough lake it's a bit of a climb to cross the A614 and follow the track to Goodmanham. The Goodmanham Arms has just about everything except accommodation, but that is available at Manor Farm cottages which also does camping. Enjoy the pub - it's a classic, but remember tomorrow is a long day.
Huggate: Pocklington: Goodmanham
Huggate: Warrendale: B1246: Nunburnholme: Londesborough: A614: Goodmanham
Goodmanham Arms, Goodmanham
The Feathers, Pocklington: Manor Farm Cottages, Goodmanham
638m ascent, 701m descent, total 437.4 miles/703.9 km
Another long day, heading for the River Humber to the lovely village of Welton, where the Green Dragon awaits
A long day, but with a nice pub at the end. All walkers have a comfortable daily walking distance, usually in the range of 11 to 15 miles or thereabouts, depending on the terrain. Mine is 12 miles, but rises to 16 if the walk ends at a pub, so let's get going. Follow the road east, then turn south on the Wolds Way, still on the road for now. At a junction of roads, head straight on and climb up onto Sancton Wold, conspicuous for its wind farm, with a trig point on top. Descend to the road near North Newbald, then cross another road to enter a beautiful dry valley on the High Hunsley circuit. There's a lovely B & B in North Newbald - The Anvil - and although it's too early to stop here, the owners will pick you up within a reasonable distance, so bear it in mind if you don't want to trek all the way to Welton. Climb up and cross a couple of roads before dropping steeply down through a lovely wood to a disused railway, where our way turns west. Eventually we arrive at the road to South Cave - the walk doesn't visit the village, but the Fox and Coney there does tempt some walkers to divert at this point, and has accommodation too. The Way now gets a bit "fiddly" as it climbs up and down to Brantingham, where once again the path does not actually enter the village. Climb up once again, first on the road and then on a bridleway, and do not miss the right turn at a crossroads. Go past the imposing Wauldby Manor Farm, then it's downhill all the way through the lovely Welton Dale to the village of Welton and the Green Dragon, where you can get beer, food, company and a bed for the night. Well done on a long and surprisingly challenging day, with lots of ups and downs. It's easy going now all the way back to Stainborough, still 6 days away but flat along the Trans Pennine Trail.
Goodmanham: South Cave: Welton
Goodmanham: A1079: North Newbald: B1230: South Cave: Brantingham: Welton
Tiger Inn, North Newbald (1 mile): Fox and Coney, South Cave (1.5 miles): Green Dragon, Welton
The Anvil, North Newbald: Fox and Coney, South Cave: Green Dragon, Welton: Brough
115m ascent, 142m descent, total 452.1 miles/727.6 km
Today we leave the Wolds Way and head east along the River Humber on the Trans Pennine Trail towards the end of our marathon walk
Today is an easy day, mostly flat along the banks of the Humber estuary, but first there's just one more climb up out of Welton, before dropping down to cross the busy A63 near Welton to meet the Humber west of North Ferriby. Don't go wrong here, as if you turn left along the Wolds Way you could end up in Istanbul, so make sure you turn right (west) along the bank of the river. Purists may prefer to turn east here anyway, to complete the Wolds Way at Hessle Haven before retracing your steps - this will add about 7 miles but means you can tick a box on a list of long distance walks completed. A word of warning - the Trans Pennine Trail is designed for horses and cycles as well as walkers, so there are some bits which follow roads and tracks, ignoring shorter and more direct routes on footpaths. Our route takes some of these short cuts, so be careful and don't just follow the TPT signs without looking at your map. There's an example of this at Crabley Farm, about 9 miles into today's walk, where the TPT makes a diversion along roads through Broomfleet. At this point there's a footpath marked on maps which skirts the farm and follows a dyke across farmland, but sadly it's very difficult to follow on the ground, and you'll have to climb a fence or two. Even more sadly, there's a couple of "No Entry" signs, one of them directly on the right of way. If you're happy to tackle it, find your way past Crabley Farm onto a track, then continue on following a small dyke to join up with the TPT later on. Other than this route finding is easy, with the path never far from the river and always south of the railway. Tonight's destination is the Hope and Anchor pub in Blacktoft on the River Ouse. Sadly this riverside pub doesn't do accommodation and are a bit reluctant to allow muddy boots, but the food and beer are outstanding. They have been known to accept campers in their beer garden, but those lacking a tent may have to get transport to neighbouring Goole or Brough for the night. Saltmarshe Hall, just over 3 miles further on, is a high quality hotel, reminiscent of Raven Hall Hotel at Ravenscar, but I'm not sure whether smelly unshaven walkers would fit in. So either put your tent up or get a lift back to the Green Dragon in Welton for another night!
Welton: North Ferriby: Brough: Blacktoft
North Ferriby: Brough: Broomfleet: Gilberdyke
Welton: A63: North Ferriby: Brough: Broomfleet: Blacktoft
Hope and Anchor, Blacktoft
Hope and Anchor, Blacktoft (wild)
5m ascent, 5m descent, total 466.5 miles/750.8 km
Following the banks of the Ouse, with not a contour in sight
The Way hugs the banks of the Ouse leaving Blacktoft and passing Yokefleet, often on the top of the flood bank, before arriving at the pretty village Saltmarshe. There's a footpath following the river bank out of the village, but make sure you turn right on the road away from the river, past Saltmarshe Hall, to cut off a big loop where the river meanders around Goole on the other bank. In lovely rural landscape we eventually under the railway and rejoin the river by a bridge, then we head north through Skelton village alongside the river again, although the river itself is scarcely visible because of the flood barrier. Just follow the river bank, with a slight diversion at the highly ambitious name of Kilpin Pike, and pass under the M62 motorway before arriving at the impressive Boothferry Bridge. There's a pub here, the Ferry Boat Inn, which has been closed but has recently reopened and is welcoming to walkers. You won't find real ale here, and the menu is limited to a carvery for an incredible price, but on a long trek no walker can be too picky. We're now on the northern bank of the Ouse, which we follow past the huge Drax power station on the opposite bank. Keep going past the remains of a bridge on the Hull-Barnsley (yes, my home town!) railway all the way to Barmby Barrage where the Derwent flows into the Ouse. The Derwent is an interesting river, as its source is up on Fylingdales Moor near the east coast, and river heads for the sea near Scarborough before being forced south through Forge Valley, which appeared as the last ice age came to an end. The village of Barmby is blocked on 2 sides by the rivers, but there's a nice gastro-pub - the Kings Head - in the centre, although it's not open on Mondays and on some weekday lunchtimes. Once again, accommodation is difficult here, so my advice would be to try to find somewhere around Selby for tonight and tomorrow, and ask nicely for a lift back to your walk. For campers, the lock-keeper at Barmby Barrage is very amenable and may allow a wild camp for the night if you ask nicely in advance, like I did. If you want to take advantage of this, write to Martin Taylor at Barmby Tidal Barrage, Barmby on the Marsh, Goole, DN14 7HX.
Blacktoft: Howden: Goole: Barmby on the Marsh
Saltmarshe: Goole: Howden: Wressle
Blacktoft: Saltmarshe: Skelton: Boothferry: Barmby on the Marsh
Ferry Boat Inn, Boothferry: Kings Head, Barmby
Barmby Barrage (wild)
13m ascent, 24m descent, total 481.6 miles/775.1 km
Leaving the Ouse at Selby, and heading south towards the River Aire
Leaving Barmby, the trail once again follows the north bank of the river, complete with its frustrating winding bends which add several miles to the walk. The scenery is not spectacular, as we're in flatland, but look out for deer in the fields around here. Eventually we enter the small town of Selby, where there is ample opportunity to replenish rucksacks and beer reserves. The route deviates into the town centre slightly from the official Trans Pennine Trail route, to visit the magnificent Selby Abbey and the equally attractive George Inn next door. Here, the route finally leaves the river but follows Selby canal for a while, before heading due south alongside the railway near Burn (Selby) airfield. You may see small planes and gliders circling above you, but if you see one with an L-plate on it coming in to land, I suggest you take cover. Unusually in flatland, there's a spot on the path next to the airfield where a distant view of the Peak District moors on Derwent Edge opens up, prompting memories of a wild camp on Back Tor several weeks ago, for those nutters doing the entire walk. See if you can spot it! After the airfield there's some road walking along Burn Lane, but the road is hardly used apart from the odd farm vehicle, so it's a pleasant easy walk to finish the day. After a few twists and turns, the trail eventually reaches Temple Hirst, where you turn left and go round the bend to the Sloop Inn, our destination for today. The Sloop Inn has a camping site with facilities, but otherwise there's no accommodation around here. Not far from here, as the crow flies, is Drax Power Station, just across the river from our start point at Barmby. Having slogged all day to get here, it was frustrating to discover I was only a couple of miles from my start point, but that's what happens when you follow winding rivers in flatland. My tip for the 2 day section from Barmby to Thorpe in Balne would be to check in to the George Inn in Selby, and use taxis and public transport to return to your base after your day's walking. The Royal Oak in Hirst Courtney is advertised as having accommodation and a camping site, but to the best of my knowledge I believe the camping site has closed, so make sure you call them if you're intending to stay here.
Barmby on the Marsh: Hemingbrough: Selby: Hirst Courtney
Wressle: Selby: Snaith
Barmby on the Marsh: Hemingbrough: Newhay: A63: Selby: Henwick Hall: Hirst Courtney
George Inn, Selby: Sloop Inn, Temple Hirst: Royal Oak, Hirst Courtney
George Inn, Selby
Sloop Inn, Temple Hirst: Royal Oak, Hirst Courtney
34m ascent, 31m descent, total 497.6 miles/800.8 km
Today we cross the River Aire, head into South Yorkshire and follow the New Junction Canal for a while
From the Sloop Inn, follow the road through Hirst Courtney towards Carlton, but turn right at Coates Hall Farm to cross the River Aire (last seen at Aire Head Springs, south of Malham) to enter Snaith. Here you will find truly one of the best cafés on the entire walk, with a sweet counter you will struggle to resist. The Kitchen is run by keen walkers, so you'll have no problems with muddy boots in here, and I even got a free mince pie for promising to mention them on here! After suitable refreshment, follow the trail through the town, cross over the M62 and wend your way south until you reach the Knottingley and Goole canal, where we are forced west on its northern bank in search of a crossing point. This we find near Pollington, where we turn south towards Topham, crossing the River Went to enter South Yorkshire on the way. This is road walking, but the roads are quiet enough. A short distance further on, at Sykehouse Church, we briefly turn right to leave the trail to cut a corner off (remember the trail has to be suitable for horses and cyclists), but we meet up again at the New Junction Canal at Sykehouse Lock. Keep on endlessly along the western bank of the canal, where the scenery is featureless and you will have a distinct feeling that you're getting nowhere. There are only two occasions in life where the word "trudge" can be used - one of them being descriptive of the walk back to the pavilion after being out at cricket. With your bat tucked under the arm, and your gloves removed, you trudge off sadly. The other occasion is walking on this section of the Wild Yorkshire Way along the New Junction Canal, where you will feel like you're walking the wrong way along a rolling walkway at an airport. After an eternal "trudge" you will finally arrive at Braithwaite, where there is reputed to be a café, although I didn't notice one as I plodded through the village. This is one of the reasons why I hesitate to attempt a refreshment and accommodation guide on here, as pubs, cafés, campsites and hotels come and go over time. Leave the canal and pass through the village to the west, where we again leave the TPT briefly to avoid road walking, before arriving at Thorpe in Balne for tonight's stop. As overnight stops go, Thorpe in Balne is pretty useless, as there's no pub, no shop, no café, no nowt in the village, so you'll need a lift or a taxi (Angels, 07840 472308) from here. As ever, accommodation is tricky as we're not exactly in a tourist area, but we're not far from "Donny" (Doncaster) so you won't have to travel far to find something.
Hirst Courtney: Snaith: Sykehouse: Thorpe in Balne
Snaith: Thorne: Kirk Sandall: Hatfield/Stainforth
Hirst Courtney: Carlton: Snaith: Pollington: Sykehouse: Kirkhouse Green: Braithwaite: Thorpe in Balne
58m ascent, 55m descent, total 512.2 miles/824.3 km
The penultimate day, a countryside corridor through heavily populated South Yorkshire
Today's walk starts off with some road walking to Owston Grange, but the roads are quiet enough. If you're using an old map, watch out for a new road bridge over the railway at the complex Joan Croft Junction. The trail used to cross the east coast main line over a level crossing here, but this is now impassable and walkers have to follow the loop road over the bridge. Follow the road to Owston Grange, where the trail heads south through Owston Wood in pleasant rural countryside to Tilts, where we cross Smallholme and Tilts Drain, an artificial waterway built to drain the surrounding flatlands. The Way then avoids Toll Bar on a pleasant track skirting to the north of Bentley Community Woodland, before passing under the busy A19 and heading south on a disused railway. It's pleasant walking, avoiding the nearby town, but then - disaster! The way ahead is blocked, for whatever reason, and the route unavoidably passes through the town of Bentley on probably the most unpleasant section of walking on the entire route. You'll feel a bit daft in your hiking regalia around here. At Bentley Station head straight on, and respite will be found as you reach a disused railway trail again. It's a relief, but the litter and fly tipping around here are a give-away that you're not far from the sort of people who simply cannot respect the countryside and take their litter either home, to a bin or to a dump-it site. The route just about manages to skirt Doncaster to the west, eventually joining the River Don where the scenery improves dramatically. Turn west here, passing under the A1(M) viaduct, which was of course specially built for the Wild Yorkshire Way. You'll notice some contours around here, although you are still in a flat river valley. The next section is delightful, despite the proximity to towns and industry, as we follow the Don to Sprotbrough, where the Boat Inn is a welcome spot for lunch. After lunch, continue along the pleasant banks of the Don, past Sprotbrough Flash nature reserve, to the magnificent Conisbrough viaduct. I'm not a fan of graffiti, but I have to admire the ingenuity of those who managed to spray their initials on its parapet! The path climbs up (yes, a climb, the first one since joining the River Humber at North Ferriby about 65 miles ago!) to the western end of the viaduct before joining a good track above the Don valley to a footbridge over the River Dearne - my home town river. Our target for today, the nature reserve at Denaby Ings, is a short stroll from here. Just up the road towards Mexborough is the Pastures Lodge, where you can get beer, food and accommodation. It's more of a business place than a walkers' place, so wipe your boots and spray your armpits before venturing in, but after a long day it's in a very useful location.
Thorpe in Balne: Bentley: Sprotbrough: Conisbrough: Mexborough
Kirk Sandall: Bentley: Doncaster: Conisbrough: Mexborough
Thorpe in Balne: Owston Grange: Tilts: Bentley: Sprotbrough: Denaby Ings
Bay Horse, Bentley: Boat Inn, Sprotbrough: Pastures Lodge, Denaby Ings
Pastures Lodge, Denaby Ings
77m ascent, 17m descent, total 526.5 miles/847.3 km
The last day! Following the trail along rivers and through valleys in industrial South Yorkshire, back to a well-earned and triumphant pint afterwards at the cricket club. Well done!
If you've done the whole walk in one piece, respect to you. You're on your last day, and a welcome home pint (free, motivated by the great Wainwright, if I'm around) at the cricket club. You've got a pleasant day today, on a narrow rural corridor through industry and civilisation. To start with, the Trans Pennine Trail shares its route with the Dearne Way, which follows the River Dearne through my home town of Barnsley. Follow the Dearne all the way to Bolton upon Dearne, starting off on the north-east bank, but crossing to the south bank at a road bridge near Adwick. Now we follow the south bank until we pass the south side of the Old Moor Nature Reserve - ensure you don't follow the Dearne Way (and the Barnsley Boundary Walk) to the north. From Old Moor, the route gets a bit more hemmed in by civilisation, but it's still a pleasant walk skirting Wombwell. For me, nostalgia kicks in around here, as the Way passes the Aldham Industrial Estate, where my former company ABI Electronics Ltd started out in a tiny unit in 1983, and fed me until I retired and sold up in 2014. Moving quickly on, the Way then curves to the west at a junction of disused railways, and passes through increasingly nice countryside. Note how the long lost contours on the maps, and on the ground, are starting to reappear around here - a reminder that we are heading for the Pennines, where our journey began nearly 6 weeks ago. It's a nice feeling to be heading for the hills again, but I doubt if many people would carry on and go round again! You could be tempted by the Button Mill at Worsbrough (I was) but it's only about 2 miles to the end from here. The Way passes Worsbrough Mill Country Park where there's a nice café at the old mill, and at Wigfield Farm just off the route. Keep on the old railway and watch out for a bridge over the M1 - you're close now. Cross over the road to Stainborough and turn left, then march triumphantly up the hill, past the Strafford Arms to the cricket club. If the club bar is open, ask someone to ring me and I'll get you a pint. Well done, thank you for following my walk, and please let me know your feedback. After your free pint, set off again, but do it the other way so you can see the views from the opposite perspective. Happy walking!
Mexborough: Harlington: Bolton upon Dearne: Wombwell: Worsbrough: Gilroyd: Dodworth: Stainborough
Mexborough: Conisbrough: Bolton upon Dearne: Wombwell: Dodworth: Barnsley
Denaby Ings: Harlington: Bolton upon Dearne: Old Moor House: Wombwell: Lewden: Worsbrough: Gilroyd: Stainborough
Old Moor Tavern, Broomhill (1 mile): Wombwell: Boatman's Rest, Button Mill, Worsbrough: Strafford Arms, Stainborough Cricket Club, Stainborough
Stainborough Cricket Club