It’s been a while, quite a while in fact, since I’ve set out to walk more than 10 miles in a day’s stretch. I used to boast that it was barely worth putting the boots on for less than 20, but that was a long time ago, and was foolish talk anyway! This route though, from Grassington along the Dales Way to Kettlewell and then back on the “B” road that runs to the east of the River Wharfe seemed to beckon right off the face of the map, and there didn’t seem to be too much climbing involved, so why not? Total distance was in the region of 14 miles in fact and that was OK, but plenty!
The walk out was glorious really. The weather was superb and would have done in mid-summer, so that was very much a bonus. The Dales Way runs along a sort of narrow plateau for the first half or so or the route. Very much limestone country with characteristic bits of limestone pavement and wind-blown thorn trees, and even a lime kiln along the way. Eventually it opens up, and the views across upper Wharfedale are very special. Comparisons are invidious in this context and yes, of course there is more spectacular scenery to be had in this good world, but on this day and in this location – wonderful, and no finer place be!
Lunch in Kettlewell in the cafe across from the car park by the river – excellent and rejuvenating. Then the walk / plod back. It’s always a touch wearying walking on tarmac and perhaps I should have brought some trainers in my rucsac to change into, but hey, look at the scenery and crack on! It was interesting to look back up at some of the major landmarks of the outward route. It was also interesting to look west across the river, somewhat “contre-jour” as photographers say, to Hawkswick Moor, the River Skirfare which joins the Wharfe, and then the famous crags at Kilnsey. Grass Wood, a mile or so short of Grassington, looks well worth a visit one day, though I couldn’t quite summon up the energy to make the uphill detour that it needed on this trip.
A “grand day out” indeed, for which being a little footsore is a very small price to pay. Repeatable certainly, and possibly with the help of the local bus service for the return half, and combining an exploration of Grass Wood on the way out!