Circular walk through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales
|Location||Yorkshire Dales, England|
|Accommodations||Hotels, Small Inns|
|Group size||1 - 12+|
May 01, 2023 - Oct 15, 2023
|Single Supp Cost||
In the early 1950s, Alf Wight took his son on a circle ramble through the Yorkshire Dales countryside. They walked the fields and fells of two of the most quintessentially beautiful valleys in Yorkshire, the Swaledale, and Wensleydale, staying in youth hostels along the way.
Alf Wight is more famously known by his pen name James Herriot. His semi-autobiographical books, including All Creatures Great and Small, based on his experiences as a veterinarian in Yorkshire from the 1940s – to the 1970s, became wildly popular and later adapted into well-known films and TV series.
Reminiscent of the walk Alf Wight took with his son, the James Herriot Way is now a 52-mile route, not only through the areas where Wight most loved to walk but to our favorite corner of Yorkshire Dales. Staying largely within the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this 8-day itinerary connects some of our favorite inns with our favorite walks. Starting and ending in the market town of Richmond, this is a route of meandering rivers, tumbling waterfalls, high windy moorlands, and rolling green farm fields checkered with endless stonewalls. Medieval castles, stalwart stone barns, and quiet country villages punctuate these landscapes that have been worked and walked for ages. Add to the mix full English breakfasts, cheese and pickle sandwiches, fish and chips, and sticky toffee pudding and you have the makings of a classic self-guided Yorkshire ramble!
Day 1: Arrive Manchester Airport – Independent travel to Richmond
Still possessing an air of quaint antiquity, the town of Richmond is dominated by an 11th-century Norman cliff-top castle and boasts a large cobbled marketplace with the ancient church of Holy Trinity as its centerpiece. A mixture of stone and brick buildings spread down the hillside in a maze of narrow streets waiting to be wandered. You may have time to explore this lovely market town before dinner.
Day 2: Richmond to Reeth
Departing from the center of Richmond, the route leads through the outskirts of town, passing gardens and well-kept homes before entering the Yorkshire Dales National Park. From here the walk to Reeth is one of variety. The landscape of limestone escarpments, rich meadows, and “leafy becks” serve as a backdrop for the two lovely villages and priory along the way. You will end the day in Reeth, once the center of extensive mining activity and now a pleasant, thriving village.
Day 3: Reeth to Thwaite
Today you’ll have a wonderful riverside walk along the River Swale. This is quintessential Dales landscape, Meandering beside the river’s edge and then turning up through rich, green pastures checked with dry stone fences, the route will take you to the villages of Gunnerside and Muker before ending in the tiny hamlet of Thwaite.
Day 4: Thwaite to Hawes
The route takes on a more southerly direction as it heads toward the beautiful valley of Wensleydale. Leaving Thwaite, you join another well-known, long-distance footpath, "The Pennine Way”, and begin your climb up the north side of Great Shunner Fell. After reaching the summit at 2,363 feet, you’ll have a long, gradual descent into Wensleydale. Coming into the little hamlet of Hardraw, you may want to stop for tea and scones or pop into the Green Dragon for a pint before continuing the last 20 minutes to your country hotel, once an Edwardian manor house, set amidst old English gardens with expansive views of the valley.
Day 5: Rest Day
The day can be spent exploring the nearby market town of Hawes or relaxing at the hotel. Located at the upper end of Wensleydale, Hawes is an active market town. Its attractive main street is lined with old stone buildings, cafes, pubs, and shops. The Wensleydale Creamery, famous for its cheese, is located here, as is the Dales Countryside Museum.
Day 6: Hawes to Aysgarth
From the hotel, you'll head uphill to the little hamlet of Sedbusk then across fields and farmland to the village of Askrigg, passing the waterfall of Mill Force on the way. Askrigg is old Norse meaning Ash Tree (askr) Ridge (hryggr). Once a bustling market town and a hub for brewing, clock-making, and woolen industries, Askrigg has become more fondly known for serving as the filming location for Herriot’s fiction town “Darrowby” in the BBC TV series, All Creatures Great and Small.
From Askrigg, you'll hike up through the little hamlet of Newbiggin and onto the high pastures just below Carperby Moor. Long with expansive views of the valley, you’ll see evidence of the old lead mining days as you hike under the limestone outcroppings of Ivy Scar. Your walk will end in the village of Carperby, where Alf Wight honeymooned with his wife at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in 1941.
Day 7: Aysgarth to Reeth to Richmond
Your day will begin with a hike down to Aysgarth Falls, a three-tiered fall along the Ure River running over the course of nearly a mile. From Aysgarth, the route takes across the fields to Bolton Castle, one of England’s best-preserved medieval castles. Mary, Queen of Scotts, was imprisoned here after the Battle of Langside. The climb continues up Black Hill, down to Apedale Beck, and up again to the crest of Greets Hills. If the weather is with you, you will lose our views of Wensleydale only to be greeted by those of Swaledale as we descend through telltale signs of the old Apedale Lead Mine and across gross hunting terrain. The familiar sight of Reeth tells you your walk is nearing its close. Ending in back in on the village green of Reeth, you will then be transported back to your hotel in Richmond having come full circle.
Day 8: Trip end - Onward travel
The trip will end following breakfast. Independent travel back to Manchester Airport or other destinations. Please allow for travel time when making plans.
Singles within a group: If you have an odd number of hikers in your group, or have a group member who prefers a single room, a single supplement of $375 will apply.
Land Cost for Solo Hiker: $3,025
The above may change, depending on your final confirmed itinerary.
Airfare, lunches, 5 dinners, optional/individual transfers between inns or individual excursions, items not on set dinner menus, beverages, insurance, tips to drivers, and items of a personal nature.
This hike includes luggage transfers between accommodations. You will only need to carry a small day pack with the clothing and items you will need for the day. We recommend that you keep your luggage to a size that you can easily manage yourself, given our accommodations may have narrow hallways and no elevators. See our sample packing list.
This standard self-guided itinerary starts and ends in the market town of Richmond on the border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The closest airport to the start and end of the trip is Manchester Airport, England. From Manchester. Richmond is easily reached by train, then bus or taxi.
Unlike our trips in the Alps, our James Herriot Way involves more distance than it does elevation gain and loss, yet each day provides good solid hiking and ends at comfortable accommodations. The Yorkshire Dales National Park, through which this route travels, protects the area's unique landscape, ecosystem, and heritage lending it a feeling of timelessness. This is a classic walk across some of the most beautiful and iconic landscapes of England, perfect for every hiker who would appreciate good solid walking through tranquil countryside.
For those who have hiked in the Alps, but haven't yet walked in England, you might find the navigation engaging in a refreshing way. The footpaths are well indicated, however, the paths themselves may not be well defined. While it's difficult to go too terribly wrong, you'll find keeping your map in hand more necessary.
If you would like to receive more information or a customized itinerary, including elevation gains, loss, and distances, please contact us. We're also happy to provide a list of past participants willing to share honest insights into their travel experiences with us.
A non-refundable deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the area provided when completing your registration forms.
Before registering for this, please read our Terms and Conditions in their entirety and then refer to our Self-Guided Trips page for specific information regarding the process.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as personal checks.
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form, medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment, you will receive trip rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.
“Once again, another wonderful trip. Hiking through the pastureland was gorgeous and so easy on the feet! I was in total heaven.”
Kate Pierce, Camden ME