The Dales Way

From Ilkley to the Lake District through the Yorkshire Dales

By Terry Marsh

Guidebook to walking the Dales Way. This picturesque 79 mile route through the Yorkshire Dales between Ilkley and Bowness-on-Windermere is one of the gentlest long-distance walks in Britain. The route is described in both directions, passing through Wharfedale, Dentdale and the eastern fringe of the Lake District. With 1:25K OS map booklet.



The walk is scenically at its best in Spring and Autumn (April-June and September-October), but is an all-year round walk for suitably equipped walkers.


Ilkley, Grassington, Hawes, Sedbergh, Bowness-on-Windermere


This is an ideal route for anyone wanted to attempt multi-day walking for the first time. There are no significant physical difficulties beyond the basic need to walk a certain distance each day.
Must See

Must See

Historic buildings, roads, bridges, etc. Landscape, flowers and wildlife. Bolton Abbey, Dent, Dales villages. The scenery is outstanding throughout, and a string of communities line the route but without detracting from the sense of freedom.
13 Apr 2018
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.1cm
  • Overview

    A fully waymarked trail from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere, the Dales Way links two of England's most celebrated national parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Well served for accommodation and facilities, and with easy walking on riverside paths, it is one of the gentlest multi-day walks in Britain and therefore an ideal introduction to long-distance walking. It can be comfortably completed in 6–8 days. Novices and experienced long-distance walkers alike will find plenty of interest on this wonderful walk, including glorious limestone scenery and characterful historic towns.

    Presented in six daily stages of 7–19 miles (with suggestions for alternative schedules), this guide describes the Way in both directions, with the main route description running from south to north. Step-by-step route description is accompanied by 1:100,000 mapping, and a trek planner, showing where facilities are available, is included to facilitate planning. Accommodation listings and useful contacts can be found in the appendices. A separate, conveniently sized map booklet located in the back-cover sleeve provides all the OS 1:25,000 mapping needed to complete the trail.

    Accompanying rivers great and small, crossing farmland – and just a little moorland, following wandering winding lanes, the Dales Way visits a wide variety of fascinating features – from churches to viaducts, from traditional villages to ancient stone circles. The guide offers comprehensive notes on local points of interest, as well as an overview of Dales geology, history, plants and wildlife to enhance the walking experience. The practical information is all there too, including when to go, how to get there and what to take, making for an ideal companion to enjoying this delightful route.

  • Contents

    About the Dales Way
    Planning the walk
    Suggested itineraries
    When to go
    Getting there… and back
    Public transport
    First and last nights
    Facilities en route
    Pack-carrying services (baggage transfer)
    Cash management
    Planning day-by-day
    Using this guide
    Waymarking and paths
    Health, safety and emergencies
    Phones and Wi-Fi
    All about the region
    Plants and wildlife
    History and culture
    The Dales Way: Ilkley to Bowness
    Stage 1 Ilkley to Burnsall
    Stage 2 Burnsall to Buckden
    Langstrothdale and Dentdale
    Stage 3 Buckden to Cowgill (Lea Yeat)
    Stage 4 Cowgill (Lea Yeat) to Millthrop (Sedbergh)
    Lonsdale and the Lakeland Fringe
    Stage 5 Millthrop (Sedbergh) to Staveley
    Into Lakeland
    Stage 6 Staveley to Bowness-on-Windermere

    Appendix A Useful contacts
    Appendix B Accommodation along the route
    Appendix C Further reading

  • Updates
    Receive updates by email
    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    June 2019

    Trek Planner p11: The distance between Staveley and Burneside is 3 miles/5km. Burneside needs to be moved to 69 miles and the reverse to 9½ miles.

    April 2019

    Appendix B

    Stage 6 Bowness-on Windermere addition:

    Blenheim Lodge
    Brantfell Rd
    Bowness-on Windermere
    LA23 3AE
    Tel 01539 443440

  • Reviews
    An excellent step by step guide to the route which includes some stunning pictures and is extremely easy to follow.

    Looking for something to do for a week this summer?

    Well, here is a thought for you. What about walking from Ilkley to the Lake District via the Dales Way?

    At a distance of 78 miles, it is an ideal walk for completing in 6, 7 or 8 days (13, 11 or 10 miles per day respectively). The ascents are mostly gentle with an average of about 1,000 feet per day.

    It is over 40 years since I first walked this particular long-distance route when I was Scout Leader in Horsforth taking the Scouts on this walk during a week at Spring Bank Holiday but having read Terry Marsh’s updated guide it is about time to renew acquaintance with this superb trail.

    Terry’s first guide to the Dales Way came out 26 years ago and there have been quite a number of improvements to the route since then necessitating periodic revisions. Both the starting point in Ilkley and the finish at Bowness are well served by public transport with train stations at each location. Windermere Station is a mile from the finish point but for anyone who has already walked 78 miles, a further mile is not an issue, particularly if you have had a good meal at The Trattoria, the best Italian Restaurant in Bowness, to celebrate the completion of the walk.

    As well as an excellent step by step guide to the route, Terry has also included a breakdown into the stopping points for a 6, 7 or 8-day completion. There is also an appendix of accommodation on route, plus details of facilities, where to obtain cash at overnight stays, equipment to take and wear, weather and waymarking. Accompanying the book there is a 1:25,000 route map booklet which includes the area up to a mile or so adjacent to the walk as well as the clearly defined route itself.

    For anyone wishing to walk the route in reverse i.e. West to East, starting at Windermere and finishing at Ilkley, Terry has included a reverse route description at the end of each stage in the book. This is an excellently produced guide which includes some stunning pictures and is extremely easy to follow.

    I can conclude no better than quoting from the first page of Stage 1. “This first stretch into Wharfedale presents no real challenges other than coping with a surfeit of beautiful landscapes and joyful walking”. What more can I say?

    Why not give it a go?

    John Burland

    A very good guide which I can recommend to all those undertaking this fantastic walk.

    Just completed the last section of the Dales Way from Dent Head to Windermere (did the first half last year). Used the new Cicerone guide which we found to be excellent. It is accurate, precise and clearly written. All the route instructions were unambiguous and left no room for doubt. The route passes through areas with numerous paths, many of which are more obvious on the ground than the Dales Way route so this level of clarity is vital to avoid any errors and delays. The background information was relevant and clearly presented to avoid interference with route descriptions. We had booked our travel and accommodation before the book was published so did not use that element of the book. All round a very good guide which I can recommend to all those undertaking this fantastic walk.

    Richard, by email

    Cicerone Guides have their own loyal followers, and Terry Marsh’s guidebook will not disappoint them.

    Terry Marsh produced his first guide to walking the Dales Way 25 years ago, and the latest edition to his popular guide book has just been published by Cicerone Press.

    The new book matches the revamped layout of Cicerone’s long distance guides, coming with a separate map booklet with the route shown on OS mapping at a scale of 1:25,000.

    As well as a detailed account of each days walking – in both directions – Terry includes a broad range of information on accommodation, public transport, suggested itineraries, facilities on route, wildlife, geology, history and culture, along with a host of his colourful photos.

    Terry is a seasoned walk writer, with over 120 titles to his name. He is also a generous supporter of the Dales Way Association and his passion for the trail is clear; “When it came to this new edition, I again walked the route in its entirety between October 2016 and August 2017. The enchantment I experienced during that first effort has reduced not one iota – the Dales Way is every bit as beautiful and charming and agreeable as ever it was… This still ranks as the finest multi-day walking route in Britain on which to cut your teeth.”

    Cicerone Guides have their own loyal followers, and Terry Marsh’s guidebook will not disappoint them.

    The Dales Way Association

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Terry Marsh

Dr Terry Marsh is a Lancashire-based award-winning writer and photographer who specialises in the outdoors, the countryside, walking and travel worldwide. He has been writing books since the mid-1980s, and is the author of over 100 titles.
Terry holds a PhD in Historical Geography and a Master of Arts degree (with Distinction) in Lake District Studies, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (FSA Scot), a member of the National Union of Journalists, and an Honorary Life Member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.

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