Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

Paddy, one of Cicerone's most prolific authors, lives in Cumbria and was invited to a Christmas dinner at the foot of Ilkley Moor. He decided that walking to Ilkley along the Dales Way would be a great way to work up an appetite. Faced with a lousy weather forecast he packed his waterproofs and set off.

The Dales Way is a delightful multi-day walk through the Yorkshire Dales and the eastern fringe of the Lake District between Ilkley and Bowness on Windermere, a total of 78 miles. One of the gentlest multi-day walks in Britain, the Dales Way route is suitable for all ages and an excellent introduction to long-distance walking... or ideal for a Christmas walk!

01 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

Dark and damp departure from Bowness-on-Windermere. 80-odd miles to go.

Don't hurry along, head down

The great attraction of the Way is that it is rarely far from features of architectural, social, ecological or historic interest, with churches, ancient bridges, manor houses, shooting lodges, Roman roads, stone circles, packhorse routes, viaducts and nature trails - the Dales Way has them all. It is, too, rich in flora and fauna, unbelievably so, and walkers intending to tackle the way in one go would do well to allow time each day to take everything in, rather than barging on, head down, making for the next overnight halt.

02 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

The Dales Way is all about rivers and bridges, including the Lune Viaduct near Sedbergh.

03 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

A glimmer of short-lived sunshine beside the River Dent on the way to Dent village.

The Dales Way meets the Pennine Way

The Pennine Way is Britain's oldest, toughest long-distance footpath – and arguably its most iconic. The 427km (265½ mile) route runs from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders and crosses three National Parks – the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park.

04 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

The highest point on the Dales Way on Cam Fell. It looked better on the Pennine Way last summer!

05 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

Another glimmer of short-lived sunshine beside the River Wharfe, between Buckden and Kettlewell.

The Dales Way explores delectable Wharfedale, travelling virtually to the source of the great river before crossing into the equally delightful Dentdale. This too is followed as it fashions a lovely course through the village of Dent and on to Sedbergh, where it joins the Rawthey. From here, the Way strikes westward into the fringe of Lakeland.

06 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

The Strid, where the River Wharfe surges through a narrow rocky channel.

07 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

Stepping stones at Bolton Abbey, on the final stretch to Ilkley.

At the risk of being branded a softie, Paddy shares this picture of one of the places he stayed along the Dales Way - not roughing it this time! The 'Ingleborough Room' is in the newly-opened luxurious Shepherd's Cottage B&B, which is on one of the most remote parts of the Dales Way, with the route running right past the door as it drops from Gayle Moor. They have three rooms, named after each of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire.

08 Paddy Dillon's Dales Way Christmas

Paddy didn't rough it in the 'Ingleborough Room'!

It was all done and dusted in a week, finishing the walk just on time on Christmas Eve. The Christmas dinner in Ilkley was one of the best Paddy had eaten so, fully fed he got the train home. 20170111154319
If you'd like to walk the Dales Way then Terry Marsh has written the guidebook for Cicerone. Paddy Dillon has walked all the National Trails four times so was the perfect author for the National Trails guide. If you have a trip report to share then please email

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