Herriot Way 12/15-07-2017 – Leader Jean

Herriot Way   12/15-07-2017  –  Leader Jean

A group of 17 Ramblers had a fantastic 4 days walking the Herriot Way in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, in near perfect summer walking weather. Very many thanks to Jean for her excellent organisation and preparation, enabling the walk to be co-ordinated efficiently and effectively, without a hitch. Thanks also to Rosemary for carrying a comprehensive first aid kit for the group – thankfully only a couple of paracetamol were needed.

Wednesday 12th July  – Aysgarth to Hawes

This was a relatively flat walk through stunning Wensleydale scenery with stone walls and distinctive stone barns in just about every field, so typical of the area.  We encountered farmland, woodland, paths beside the River Ure, waterfalls, a dismantled railway line, an Edwardian rock garden, and an abundance of melancholy thistle (thanks Basil and Anne P) although we were all feeling far from melancholy! We stopped at Askrigg so Gill and Tom could visit the Humble Pie pastry shop to buy their lunch, although their enthusiasm was infectious and several others also partook of their goodies. Askrigg was very pretty and the village used to film the James Herriot TV series, as we tried to spot the house used as the Veterinary Practice. Lunch was taken on a hill with superb views, beside the Whitfield Gill Force, with water the colour of beer or tea, depending on your favoured tipple. It was all so relaxing in the warm sunshine, as can be seen, with a certain camera shy person oblivious for once!  Stopping to watch sheep shearing in action was another highlight, before those staying at Hardraw separated from those staying in Hawes. A fabulous day (Gill).

Distance – 10.98 miles   Ascent – 686 feet / 209 metres

Slideshow at the end. For a static view of this day’s pics all in one go, then click here.

Thursday 13th July – Hawes to Keld

We were exceedingly lucky and had ideal summer walking weather again ( we said Jean is very, very organised!). This walk followed the Pennine Way all day to include Bluebell Hill, Little Fell, Black Hill Moss,  Hearne Edge and to the day’s highest point (and third highest point in Yorkshire), Great Shunner Fell. Here afforded spectacular 360 degree views, to which no photo can do true justice.  The tracks were mostly easy at this time of year assisted by stone slabs to minimise erosion, and we dropped into Thwaite with a welcome tea shop in a delightful setting with lovely gardens. We then started climbing again through Swaledale to North Gang Scar and Kisdon Side, before the descent into Keld on the trickiest path of the day.  From this we could see the early part of the next day’s route across the valley. Comments from the group include :- scenically incredible (Diana), great happiness (Rosemary), excellent walk with steady climb and great views (David).  Keld is the highest village in Swaledale and its name comes from the Norse word “kelda” meaning spring or well. Swale means  swirling, whirling, swallowing. One of the talking points of the holiday became the accommodation in Keld – Bunkhouse and Yurts – and where the best food of the 4 days was served their barn – delicious and staggeringly large portions, which we all managed to do justice to, after our exertions. Photos of the accommodation is at the start of Friday’s pics.

Distance – 14.03 miles  Ascent – 2,505 feet / 764 metres

For a static view of this day’s pics all in one go, then click here.

Friday 14th July  – Keld to Reeth

The day started with two brave and hardy (foolhardy maybe) going wild swimming before breakfast, in the River Swale and its waterfall, running adjacent to the accommodation. The group walked together then divided into two groups just before Crackpot Hall, the ruins including bath and fireplace shown in the pics.

One group followed the River Swale, passing waterfalls, splendid meadows full of wild flowers rarely seen these days (Basil), and enjoying a plentiful array of birdlife (Ursula).  Lunch was taken in the Memorial garden at Gunnerside – a peaceful haven with lovely flowers (Anne H), before a visit to the pub for a lovely cuppa (Joan). Such a beautiful walk (Yvonne). This very picturesque route undulated and sometimes climbed slightly above the river (Mary),  before arriving at the pre-arranged meeting place of Healaugh.

One group took the route through the relics of Swaledale’s lead mining industry, dipping down to ruins of mills in the gills and becks, and climbing to cross Gunnerside Moor, Melbecks Moor and Reeth High Moor, which gave stunning views in contrast to the nearby desolation. The remains of smelters, tunnels, forges and flues were both fascinating and horrifying. Industrial heritage in landscape (Joe). Tom and David were seen to lavish far too much attention and adoration over rusty equipment! The walk then descended to Surrender Bridge and then up to Cringley Bottom (lovely names) before heading down steeply to meet the others.

Amazingly the two groups met up at Healaugh within a few minutes of each other despite no phone signals or communication throughout the day.  We then walked together along the river before those staying at Grinton faced an arduous climb to the impressive YHA building, whilst others meandered into Reeth and tackled the climb in the morning instead.

Distance –  Riverside group – 14 miles   Ascent unknown      Lead mines group – 14.10 miles  Ascent – 2,115 feet / 644 metres

For a static view of this day’s pics all in one go, then click here.

Saturday 15th July  – Reeth to Aysgarth

After meeting up at Grinton YHA we set off across open heather clad moorland, although unfortunately a little too early in the year for it to be in flower. Here the luck with the weather deserted us as it drizzled for some time, although this was still not as wet as the forecast predicted, and we were a colourful group with the variety of backpack covers. We went over Harkerside Moor, past disused mine workings to Whitaside Moor and Apedale Head, the highest point of the day. We then descended across across East Bolton Moor to the impressive Castle Bolton, with some very noisy boar a nearby pen.  From there it was back to Aysgarth via farmland, waterfalls and a lovely cafe, who did not refuse us despite it being closing time – we must have looked desperate! I’ve never done 4 days walking like this before, but it’s been great and so varied (Hazel).  Scenery beautiful, great company (Linda). Personally, as I hung back a little on the final day, I was struck by the laughter ringing out across the gorgeous landscape, which I think says it all.

Distance (from Reeth) – 16.10 miles  Ascent – 2280feet / 694 metres.

Slideshow for the 4 days below. For a static view of today’s pics all in one go, then click here.


  1. Rosemary

    A fine walk in Wensleydale & Swaledale. Thanks to Jean for organising the trip & leading us so well. Judy’s write up & photos perfectly captured our time away.

  2. Tom Hughes

    Congratulations to the two J’s – Jean for organising and leading a fabulous walk and Judy for capturing it so well in words and pictures.Thanks for some great memories.

  3. Diana Maddison

    This was a wonderful trip, it felt like we had been away for ages(in a good way).My grateful thanks to all those involved with the organisation, leading walks, driving, taking photos etc etc. Excellent write up, excellent company, don’t mention the fruit cake!!!!!!!!!!

  4. What a great write up, Judy! Succinct, and capturing statements from us all. Very well done. Thank you once again to Jean for her efficient organisation, particularly of the weather.

  5. Arnold

    I am very impressed with everything about this trip – the planning and organisation, the camaraderie, the write ups, the comments, the photos, and Judy’s tour de force in putting it on the site succinctly but comprehensively. My only small quibble is the uninspiring feature photo! See you all tomorrow, I hope.

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