From a very young age, most of my holidays both abroad and in the UK, have been spent up in the hills somewhere. One of the earliest holiday photos is of me, aged around 5 years old, in Austria wearing my big leather boots and ‘Munch Bunch‘ rucksack containing such essentials as a colouring book and pencils!
All of my holidays, however, are spent in one, occasionally two, bases. Walks all start and finish at the hotel/b&b/guesthouse so why not try something different, start at point A then after a few days arrive at point B?
There are a few of long distance paths (LDP) to choose from, but, lets not run before we can walk.
First prerequisite was to do this properly, it seems ‘cheating’ to send all your kit ahead in a van and it is definitely is ‘cheating’ if all the organisation is done by a specialist company.
I was to carry everything I needed for the trip myself and find my own bed and breakfast accommodation….yes, I know people would say it’s ‘cheating’ not camping out but, as I say, lets not run before we can walk…..
So, where to go?
While it would be great to try something across Europe (and I won’t rule that out in the future), I just wanted to take a few days off work and have a relatively cheap break.
The Dales Way was consistently coming up as a good beginners LDP. While I’m no beginner to walking, I am new to multi day trips and this seemed a good introduction.
I got a copy of The Dales Way: A Complete Guide to the Trail (British Long-distance Trails) by Terry Marsh and fired up Google.
One of the first things that hit me as the average age of the walkers, it seemed like this was God’s waiting room for the more active. Was I about to embark on my first ‘challenge’ of the year with people over twice my age?!
At least I was taking a few less days than they were. I had planned 5 days to complete the 81 miles rather than the 6-8 suggested. Perhaps I can put the Werther’s Originals away….for now…
One of the biggest problems is to find town/villages along the way which not only have rooms available but also have somewhere for an evening meal, cue calculating mileage between stops and coming up with the following plan:
- Day 1 From Ilkley to Grassington
- Day 2 To Buckden or Hume
- Day 3 To Dent
- Part 4: Dent to Kendal
- Part 5: Kendal to Bowness on Windermere
Now the next problem, actually getting the rooms booked. Some hotels had online booking, however, a couple replied to my emails with ‘you have to ring up’.
Bear in mind that I was looking at very basic rooms, some with shared bathrooms and usually above a pub, by the time I’d added the train fare,food and drink the price for this trip was over £500!
To put this in to context, I received an email advertising an All Inclusive holiday in Gambia including flights for a week for the same price!
So, my plans for my week off have changed somewhat, I’m now looking at flights and hotels in warmer parts of Europe and saving myself a couple of hundred quid.
The Dales Way walk became a week in La Palma.