Category Archives: Dales Way

Kendal to Bowness on Windermere

June 17 – Today’s task is to get back to the place we left the trail, and complete the Dales Way by walking into Bowness (pronounced Bonus) on Windermere. Will we be able to get on the bus?

As it’s Sunday, there are even fewer buses than yesterday. (Everyone we talk to tells how the transportation services have gone downhill here since the government started requiring them to turn a profit. Austerity is not fun.) We get to the bus station early, and there are already people queued up to board. Luckily, this is a big old double-decker bus, and there is room for all.

Just joking – that is an antique bus on display. We rode in a nice modern one.

The Sunday bus takes us to Staveley, where we can reconnect with our trail. There’s absolutely nothing open on a Sunday morning in Staveley, so we just walked through the little town. Our Emma is interested that French fries are called chips here. Here’s a pic for you, Emma.

Pretty soon, we found the Dales Way marker and were back on the moor. Here’s a sign we hadn’t seen before:

That cow is definitely giving me the side eye!

The terrain is getting rockier.

We’re passed by a farmer giving his three dogs a ride on his ATV, steering with one hand and holding onto the dogs with the other.

By lunchtime we reached Bowness on Windermere.

Is this the lake? No, just a pond…

As we reached the top of the hill, the sun came out!

Our first glimpse of Lake Windermere:

We found the bench that marks the end of the Dales Way. This hike is done!

Walking down to the lake was sort of surreal. We are now officially in the Lake District, a very popular tourist destination in summer.

The lakeshore was packed with tourists, all Chinese. Not what we expected!

We celebrated by having a Chinese lunch, and we were the only non-Asians in the restaurant. We were handed an English menu, while everyone else was ordering off one written in Mandarin. We spoke to several people, all from Shanghai. By the time lunch was over, it was raining again.

The Lake District is where Beatrix Potter spent her summers, and the Lake District National Park was created by her bequest. So there is a tribute to Peter Rabbit here.

Such a pretty lake.

Isn’t this a lovely house?

Lots of places for tourists to part with their money:

After a day of rest, we will start our next adventure: the Coast to Coast!

Sedbergh to Kendal

June 16 – Today is a rest day for us, and as luck would have it, rain is forecast for the whole day. When booking this hike, Jim hit a snag, as the next destination after Sedbergh was a place called Burneside, that had no available accommodation whatsoever. The best thing we could see to do was to book in Kendal, a fair sized city not too far away.

This morning at breakfast, we asked our host Carol if she could call us a taxi. After a half hour of trying, she reported back that all three taxis in town were already busy. Perhaps the bus? Great! We love buses. As it is Saturday, the bus runs on a reduced schedule. The next one comes at 10:50. Great!

We walked down to the bus stop, in front of the library, and chatted with the librarian and folks coming in for books, including an older couple who told us where all their relatives were buried from the Great War. Eventually, the bus pulled up, and folks queued up in typical British fashion. It wasn’t a full sized bus, but more of a large van, with many of the seats already taken. Two people paid and embarked, at which point the driver announced that the seats were all full, and no one else could get on.

Folks got out their mobiles, trying to call a taxi, or canceling their plans. We asked if we couldn’t stand and ride (absolutely not). The driver called and asked if another bus could be sent for the six of us who couldn’t get on, but there was no other bus available. Sigh. Another bus would come in four hours.

The old couple from the library watched all this transpire, and when we walked dejectedly back into the library, the husband offered to go get his car and give us a lift. Nice People of England! Philip is a lay preacher at the Methodist Church in town, and we spent the half hour ride talking about his family and his faith, singing in the choir, and the sermon he was writing for Sunday. What a nice man!

So here we are in Kendal.

A bustling town with folks out shopping on a Saturday in the rain.

They have a famous Chocolate House that’s been here since 1657.

We didn’t stay out long, but bought some food (meat pies) and went back to our nice hotel for a lazy afternoon of doing laundry and watching the World Cup games.

Cowgill to Sedbergh

June 15 – Eleven miles planned for today. No rain in the forecast, but no sun either. High temp will be around 55 – fine brisk hiking weather. After yesterday’s adventure, we are looking forward to an uneventful walk. Want to see more sheep and cows? Didn’t think so. Here are my first pretty pics walking out of Cowgill.

So, just to catch up, at some point during the past few days, we left Yorkshire, and are now in Cumbria. The town signs tell us we are leaving the Dales, and entering the Lake District, although we have not yet seen a lake. Stay tuned.

On previous journeys, I’ve described how the trail is marked, to help hikers follow the right path. The marks on this trail are small and far between – a little white or yellow arrow on a fence post, sometimes reading Dales Way, and other times public path, bridle path, or footpath. Jim has a guidebook that he refers to throughout the day to keep us on track.

We haven’t gotten lost, so I guess the markers are sufficient!

Some more prettiness.

By lunchtime we had reached the little town of Dent, birthplace of Adam Sedgwick, the father of modern geology. They are very proud of him here. His father was the vicar of the local church.

More prettiness.

We see Sedbergh, our destination for this evening.

Once again, the gardens do not disappoint!

We are staying at a two bedroom B&B with a shared bath. We walked down the Main Street to a Bangladeshi Indian restaurant where the food was absolutely scrumptious. A good walk will give you a good appetite!

Swarthghyll Farm to Cowgill

Our Swarthghyll Farm hosts John and Freya came over and introduced themselves after their daily chores were done. Although Freya used to work in Los Angeles, they love the life here, and wouldn’t trade it. They purchased the farm as a ruin – no roofs – and have been building it back a bit at a time. Freya had prepared us a lovely pasta casserole for supper (yay! no chips!) that we just had to pop in the oven.

June 14 – It was a treat to cook our own breakfast in our little kitchen this morning, with farm fresh eggs and lots of coffee. We watched the weather closely, as we read that a big storm was due in this area. Not sure how they define a gale, but they name them like hurricanes, so they can’t be good. This one is named Hector.

It looked very windy, with tree limbs thrashing about, but no rain, so we set off. Leaving the farm and walking out onto the moor, the wind gusted so ferociously that it almost knocked me over, and we were pelted by icy rain. My hat and glasses flew off, and I’m shouting, “Help! My glasses!”, but the wind tore the words from my lips. Finding my glasses on the ground, Jim about-faced, and we marched back to our cabin.

Jim went back to the farmhouse to ask John’s advice about whether to wait an hour or so in the hope that the severity of the wind might abate, but John counseled him to go now, as it was supposed to get worse later! We put on our pack covers and rain gear, tightened every strap, and set off again. Remember: we are in the middle of nowhere. There is no phone service and no Uber (not a thing here) or taxi we can call. We can’t stay here another day. We have a reservation in Cowgill. We have to walk.

Okay, do you remember the scene from The Wizard of Oz when Almira Gulch is pedaling her bicycle furiously through the twister? Start there. Add the music if you wish. Then add driving wind that knocks you backward at every step. Gusts of rain like needles on your face. Now trudge uphill, directly into the wind! Don’t forget to climb over every stile, holding on for dear life! The big rocks that we clambered happily over yesterday are now slick and treacherous. The dry gullies are now filled with rushing water. The only blessing is that sheep turds are sufficiently heavy that they do not become airborne, because flying sheep dung in the face would just really be the last straw!

Jim’s pack cover went airborne, and he just managed to grab it. After four miles of this torture, we reached the cairn that our guidebook said was the highest elevation of the entire hike. Of course we stopped for a picture!

In the distance, we saw a truck parked on the other side of the next stone wall. As we approached, a young man rolled down the window and asked if we would like a lift. Just like that. Calm as you please.

David is the forestry manager for this part of the Dales, and was sitting there in his truck as it’s the only place in the entire area that has a cellphone connection. He was waiting for a client and had a few minutes to spare, so he drove us down a ways, off the ridge, where the wind was less intense and we could resume our trek. Thank you David – Nice People of England!

The inclement weather continued for the rest of the day, with periods of rain, gusts of wind, followed by a moment of sunshine as the clouds blew across the sky. Now that we were off the ridge, it was a fine day as far as I was concerned. We walked along the River Dee.

We ate our sandwiches sitting on mossy wet rocks.

We passed by a huge aqueduct, built in the 1800s.

There were pretty flowers, refreshed from the rain.

A farmer’s fence proudly displayed a collection of dead rats.

We arrived at the Sportsman Inn. I like their sign.

They had a carved tree in the back garden.

Now we’ve had a bath (showers are not an option here), hung our clothes to dry, and are feeling much better about the day. We ordered Beef Madras for supper, which was just spicy enough to make my nose run, just the way I like it. Now the sun is out (did I mention that it is still light here after 10pm?).

No WiFi here, so this will have to wait before I can post it. Friend Tom, I can hear you laughing and shaking your head. Don’t we just have the best stories?

Kettlewell to Swarthghyll Farm

We’re staying in Kettlewell at a little B & B above the Cottage Tea Room, where all the kids are lined up to buy an ice cream cone after school. We have a beautiful view of the hillside from our bedroom window.

Once the tea shop closes at 5pm, we have the building to ourselves. Maybe we should go downstairs and have an ice cream? Maybe some cake? Tempting, but we resist. The owner has left us little glasses of sherry and chocolates that will tide us over until supper.

We cross the street to the pub and order a Mediterranean Vegetable Wellington. Turns out, a Wellington is anything baked in a puff pastry. Very tasty, although the chips and peas are becoming standard fare.

June 13 – Today we trek 12 miles. While downing our breakfast (full English for Jim, just eggs and veggies for me), our host tells us that today’s walk is the prettiest part of the Dales. We’ve been told this every day so far, and every day it’s been true!

Now, here is something you may not know. Kettlewell was the town used as the set to make the film Calendar Girls, in which a group of old English matrons decide to pose nude in a calendar to raise money. Here is the Kettlewell Garage, where the matrons got the idea after seeing a girlie calendar on the wall.

Would you like to see more sheep? Here’s one doing morning yoga – downward facing sheep position.

Here are some cows who did not want me crossing into their territory.

Lots of buttercups today.

By mid morning, we arrived at the chapel at Hubberholme, which is famous for its mice.

We ventured in, and looked high and low, but no mice did we see. Then Jim spotted one! Do you see it?

Here’s the close-up – tiny mice carved into the front of the pews!

Well, that was our excitement for the day.

We stopped to eat our lunch in front of an old lime kiln. Evidently, you fill the kiln with limestone, set a fire, come back in three days and shovel out your lime. Voila!

After more sheep, more cows, and many more gates and stiles, we came to the cross carved into stone in honor of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

This was our landmark to turn onto the road to Swarthghyll Farm.

We walked, then walked some more. Saw pretty flowers.

Walked some more. Where was this farm?

Finally, another sign, but still no farm!

Well, eventually a farmhouse did appear, and we found our walker’s cottage, with a kitchen, bedroom, living room and bath just for us. Our invisible hosts left our supper in the fridge with instructions on how to light the oven. A different kind of adventure!

The Dales Way – Burnsall to Kettlewell

So now we’ve reached Burnsall, a very small village with no shops or amenities, dominated by the 500 year old Red Lion Hotel, where we are staying.

There is a bridge here.624CF834-4BA6-4A15-86A3-7F34CABDAB91

And a church.9A5415AE-7645-47EE-B860-A56ED59243B6

After a refreshing and much needed shower, we went down to supper in a traditional English pub. Although this is definitely not a food blog, we are trying to experience and share info about traditional English dishes while we are here. If you are already acquainted with these dishes, my apologies.

Jim ordered shepherds pie (lamb, carrots and gravy under a fluffy mashed potato crust) with cabbage on the side.

I opted for the even more traditional haddock and chips, accompanied by a serving of mushy peas. After liberally applying salt, pepper, catsup and brown sauce, we pronounced all the food delicious. Everything you’ve heard about the blandness of English cuisine is, as far as we can tell so far, true.

June 11 – We walked around the tiny village of Burnsall this morning. The buildings are uniformly rectangular and made from the same brown stone, so the residents pour their energy into their front gardens.D4397C15-D1F0-49E2-AD9A-DFEE12A99CC8.jpeg

This morning was our first opportunity to order what is called “the full English” breakfast, which consists of (clockwise) eggs any style, fried mushrooms, black pudding (a sausage that tastes sort of like liverwurst), bacon (we would call it ham), fried tomato, fried toast, sausage and baked beans.  I’ve heard this meal also called “a fry-up”.26AE085B-E7BB-4CFA-B6EF-221630A31934We now understand why defibrillators are available here on every corner!CC00F776-9B9C-4FC9-9AA2-7AE9EF9D2900June 12 – This morning we proceed nine miles to Kettlewell, which our guidebook promises will be a pretty and pleasant walk.

We started by getting our daily dose of sheep and cows.

We crossed the River Wharfe one more time, over a bouncy suspension bridge.

Here’s another tree stump filled with coins. Maybe for good luck?

We left the river, and climbed up into the hills, where there are lots of stone walls. Yes, for every wall, there was a stile to climb over.

We walked through the village of Grassington, which has a little waterfall and an interesting carving.

So, as we are walking along, all the sheep in the field we are traversing start maa-ing and baa-ing. Dozens of sheep. Maybe a hundred sheep. Jim wonders if we’ve upset them somehow. Next they all start running toward us. Oh no! Trampled to death by sheep? What a way to go! Over the horizon we hear the drone of a tractor, and here comes the farmer with the morning meal. The sheep run right past us, continuing to make an unholy racket until the tractor stops and the first handfuls of grain are thrown. Then blessed silence. Sheep!