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About the Dales Way

125 km(78 mi)
Type of trail

Difficulty is highly personal. Be aware of the weather conditions as bad weather turns easier trails in difficult trails especially in the mountains.


Lodging means a mix of hotels, hostels or AirBnB’s.

Camping, Lodging
Elevation gain
2400 m(7874 ft)
Countryside, Forest, Hills
Most of the time
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Stretching from the spa town of Ilkley in West Yorkshire to the shores of Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria, the Dale Way is a blend of beauty and culture. Originally created as a footpath in the early 1960s, the trail was officially designated as the Dale Way in 1980. Named after the picturesque valleys, or “dales,” it moves across, the trail is a unique option if you want to immerse yourself in England’s rural heritage.

You have options to make this trail your own with a detour or stop in one of the cute towns along the way. Additionally, you can stay in local B&B’s on the trail to immerse in even more of the culture. Don’t forget to take lots of photos! This trail is gorgeous all year and will surprise you with something new every time you walk it.

Profile picture Tiina Gollum

Tiina Golub

Tiina has been running, hiking, and describing trails for over a decade. She grew up in the Baltics, which instilled her with love for forest trails, wild swimming, and foraging. Outside of her day job as a product designer, she regularly competes in endurance running races and enjoys exploring the UK and European trails on foot. You can follow Tiina on Instagram @tiinagolub.

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The Trail

The hills, river valleys, and villages will welcome you in all seasons. Spring brings flowers and greenery, summer shines warmth on the path, and autumn changes the surroundings into a canvas of beautiful colors. Even in winter, the Dales Way is beautiful, with frosty landscapes and cozy villages nestled against a backdrop of hushed hills.

The trail winds along the River Wharfe, whose ancient stone bridges are reminders of the region’s heritage. There are lots of sightseeing opportunities along the way, most famously the historic estate of Bolton Abbey, the remnants of the Ilkley Roman Fort, and for those who are prepared to make a small detour, the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct. The quaint historic villages, such as Grassington and Dent, are other options to learn local history, eat traditional cuisine, and sleep in cozy inns.

The Dales Way’s terrain and moderate elevation gain make it accessible to a many types of hikers, from adventurers to those who want an easier stroll through the countryside. The paths are well-maintained and easy to follow because of the trail’s closeness to rivers, which means you can focus your attention on the vistas and keep a steady pace.


The Dales Way is commonly completed in 7 stages, with the option of adding a detour on stage 4 to see the Ribblehead Viaduct. The addition will make it a longer day but is worth it to see this memorial.

Stages of the Dales Way

Stage 1:

Ilkley – Burnsall, 22.5 km | 14 mi

Stage 2:

Burnsall – Hubberholme, 24 km | 15 mi

Stage 3:

Hubberholme – Dent, 22.5 km | 14 mi

Stage 4:

Dent – Sedbergh, 22.5 km | 14 mi, with an optional 5 km/ 3 mi detour for Ribblehead Viaduct

Stage 5:

Sedbergh – Millthrop, 16 km | 10 mi

Stage 6:

Millthrop – Burneside, 22.5 km | 14 mi

Stage 7:

Burneside – Bowness-on-Windermere, 19 km | 12 mi


The Dales Way has a range of accommodation options for every taste and budget, as most towns and villages along the route offer a few places to sleep.

B&B’s and guesthouses are a popular choice with most hikers. These are known for their welcoming atmosphere and friendly hosts who are eager to share local knowledge. The price of your stay will usually include a breakfast to fuel you for the day ahead, and many places will offer a packed lunch for an additional fee. If you prefer, hotels and traditional inns can be found in larger towns.

There are also many self-catering options such as holiday cottages, apartments, and youth hostels. Additionally, designated campsites along the route exist if you’d like that more!

Despite the many options, it can be hard to find a place to stay on the day of, especially during peak season. To avoid disappointment, book your accommodation at least a few weeks in advance.

You can find a list of recommended places to stay along the route on the official Dales Way website.

Best time of the year

You can hike the Dale Way any time of year. Of course, it will be warmer and the path will be less frosty in the late spring and throughout summer, but you may enjoy the way in the autumn and winter as well. Because the path rotates through towns, you won’t have an issue finding a place to sleep year ’round.

Safety & Gear

Embarking on the exciting adventure of the Dales Way, it’s important to keep a few safety precautions in mind. Regardless of the time of the year, be prepared for variable weather conditions, as the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District can experience sudden changes.

Be mindful that, due to its low altitude and proximity to rivers, the Dales Way is prone to flooding, especially during winter. Before setting off, make sure to check the weather forecast, stay informed about the trail conditions, understand potential hazards, and plan alternative routes.

Even in summer, it’s advisable to dress in layers, wear sturdy hiking boots, and bring waterproof gear, a map, and a compass. Since some stretches of the trail are fairly remote, it’s recommended to carry water supplies and snacks and inform someone about your itinerary and estimated arrival times.

While the Dales Way is among the most accessible long-distance trails in the UK, it’s still important to properly prepare for the hike and bring the necessary gear and supplies to ensure a safe and pleasant experience.

Good to know

There are enough water points in villages along the way, so no need to carry more than the daily supply.

The trail isn’t as crowded as some of the more popular UK long-distance hiking routes, but expect to see other hikers, especially in fair weather and/or on the weekend.

Point to point
Highest point
Cam Fell, 520m (1705 ft)


Guidebook of the Dales Way hiking trail

Guidebook Dales Way

View guidebook

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Terms of Use: important to all visitors on this website. We strive to publish high quality content and information on this website. However it’s always possible that we’re missing out on some crucial information. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps) were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Therefore, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals hiking or following this route. Should you choose to hike this trail, this is always at your own risk. Check out our guidelines for safety hiking and Leave No Trace principles at the hiking 101 page.

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