It is with great sadness that we heard the news of the death of our friend and former long-term Footpaths Officer Alex McManus, who died at the end of March aged 92.
Alex first joined the DWA committee in 2003 and became Footpaths Officer in 2005. He also served as Newsletter Editor from 2010 to 2014 and turned his hand to a number of other roles, including Minutes Secretary for a while.
He helped steer the Association through two major crises – in 2008 and 2012, when the DWA faced closure. As Footpaths Officer he was particularly busy following the disastrous floods in the winter of 2015, when several bridges and sections of the path were swept away. Alex worked tirelessly to help walkers find their way around detours, in some cases engaging in a spot of guerrilla waymarking.
Over the years, through his dedication, hard work and persistence, he built up the respect and admiration of many of the local authority Rangers who look after the trail.
Alex retired from active duty in 2018, and was unanimously awarded a “Honorary Life Membership” certificate at the AGM in October.
The presentation was made by the chairman of the Dales Way Association, Colin Speakman, at a special lunch attended by most of the DWA committee near Harrogate in November 2018.
Colin said: “Alex is one of the heroes of the Dales Way. For so many years he has been our tireless Footpath Secretary, doing great work working with all the local authorities along the Dales Way to ensure that stiles, gates and bridges were in good order, waymarks were in the right place and problems sorted as soon as possible, not to mention his work as a great ambassador for the route, in person and on his DVDs. In making him only our second Honorary Life Member in our history (the first was the legendary cartographer Arthur Gemmell) the Dales Way Committee is merely recognising his outstanding achievement over so many years”.
On April 1st 1974, at the stroke of a pen, the ancient county of Westmorland disappeared, along with the adjoining county of Cumberland. They were replaced by Cumbria.
The old county town of Appleby, in a defiant move, renamed itself Appleby-in-Westmorland.
Now, almost 50 years later, Westmorland is back.
As of 1 April 2023, Cumbria County Council was abolished. As were the councils of Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle City, Copeland, Eden District, and South Lakeland District.
Cumberland Council has since taken over the area previously covered by the Allerdale, Carlisle City, and Copeland authorities.
Meanwhile, Westmorland and Furness Council is in charge of the area formerly covered by Barrow-in-Furness, Eden District, and South Lakeland District authorities.
The boundaries are not exactly the same – around a quarter of historic Cumberland around the town of Penrith is in the new Westmorland and Furness council.
Cumbria will remain as a “ceremonial” county and the name will remain in the names of various organisations such as the police force.
Lord Eric Pickles, who championed traditional counties during his time as communities secretary, said: “This is great news. People live in Cumberland and Westmorland – they don’t live in Cumbria. Cumbria was a creation of the madness of the 1970s when politicians and bureaucrats decided people live in different places.”
The Dales Way passes through Westmorland in it’s final stages, taking in Sedbergh and Windermere.
We have just heard from ultra runner Jacob Snochowski that he has run the Dales Way in an awesome 12 hours 27 minutes, a new course record. Jacob ran the route as a solo run with support from friends earlier this year. Well done Jacob!
Buckden Music Sessions at the Buck Inn, 1pm – 4pm Sunday October 9th, November 13th, December 11th and second Suns in Jan, Feb, March.
Dales Tunes and Songs, traditional and more modern, with singers and players from Wharfedale, Dentdale, Wensleydale , Nidderdale and beyond. Free admission – collection for DalesBus and the Wharfedale Venturer Bus service.
To tie in with DalesBus 874 from Leeds Bus Station d. 0915, Otley 0950 Ilkley 1010, Grassington 1105 direct to Buckden. Same times for the November 22 Dancing event (below). Return bus leaves Buck Inn at 1625, Kettlewell Bluebell at 1635. Connection from Skipton Bus Station DalesBus 72 d. 1030 change at Grassington. Senior Bus passes valid or book a Dales Rover ticket (£10) or Day return. No need to drink and drive!
On most days there will be a short walk from Starbotton (a.1129) along the Dales Way to arrive in Buckden in good time for the music. Lunch available at the Buck.
Did you know you can now take out a Life Membership of the Dales Way Association? Instead of renewing every year supporters of the Association can now make a single payment of £120 (£180 for a family) and know that your membership will be ongoing. In return you will get newsletters sent by email and access to the members’ area of the website.
More importantly you will know that your money is being used to make improvements to the Dales Way. We regularly donate money from our membership income to help repair stiles and gates, mend bridges and resurface the path.
Over 40 intrepid souls set off from Bowness this morning to run 82 miles along the Dales Way to Ilkley. This is the 3rd annual Dales Way Endurance Event organised by Punk Panthers, ultra marathon specialists.
With 30 degree temperatures expected this afternoon runners have had lots of advice about covering up and staying hydrated. The run is well supported by medics and there are regular checkpoints where food and drinks are available.
Organiser Bev Downes said, “Stay safe everyone. Wear plenty of sunscreen and cover your head and the back of your neck.”
The saddest news for the Dales Way Association was to hear of the passing, at the end of February, of our President, Frank Sanderson, at the age of 94.
Frank was a remarkable personality. Born in Rochdale, Lancashire, he kept his lovely soft Lancashire accent throughout his long and active life but was equally passionate about Yorkshire and Cumbria. He was of an age to have briefly served in the RAF in the Second World War in that most dangerous of occupations, a bomb disposal unit. After demobilisation he trained as a motor mechanic soon opening his own business in Accrington, but found free time to pursue his passions for both flying, gaining a pilot’s licence and even flying his own plane – and sailing, becoming a skilled mariner. In the 1970s he switched careers to open a hotel in Scotland, which soon included caravan and chalet parks, and a coffee shop nearby. He was also a keen artist eventually opening his own small gallery in the Lake District to where he had moved to in the mid 1980s, having bought Blenheim Lodge, a boutique hotel in Bowness – directly on the Dales Way.
When Frank began to notice increased numbers of walkers walking past his hotel entrance with loaded rucksacks, or even staying at the Lodge, he soon learned about the Dales Way. In response to repeated requests, he produced a simple printed “Certificates of Achievement” for anyone who had walked the route. Members of the Ramblers who had first conceived and developed the Dales Way heard about this and as a result, in April 1990 several of us were invited to Blenheim Lodge to join Frank for a meal and discussion about the future of the Dales Way. From this meeting came the idea of a Dales Way Association which was established on 3rd February 1991 also at Blenheim Lodge, with Frank Sanderson as its first Secretary. Uniquely among UK long distance walk support groups, there was at least initially equally balance in membership between walkers and accommodation providers, for mutual support and benefit. Frank used his influence both as a member of Windermere Town Council and within SLOT (South Lakeland Organisation for Tourism) to build support for the Dales Way within Cumbria, including contacts with the Lake District National Park. He had the brilliant idea of persuading the Park to allow the conversion of a section of derelict wall and old gate post (thereby not requiring planning permission) into the first Dales Way Seat, designed by Frank and dedicated “for those who walk the Dales Way”. The site, overlooking the lake at Windermere, has become an iconic place where many thousands of people rest to celebrate their (almost) completion of the Dales Way. He even organised painting and colouring competitions for local children to promote the route in Cumbria.
Throughout his long involvement with the Dales Way Association, as first our Secretary and later our President, Frank’s energy and bubbling enthusiasm have done much to establish the popularity of the route. He even had a theory that the Dales Way long predated modern walkers but was an Iron Age trade route linking the Celtic Kingdom of Elmet (including what is now the site of Leeds) with Cumbria, which is why he designed Celtic stone heads, carved not only on the Bowness seat, but also at Ilkley Bridge.
Even though, in his tenth decade and with reduced mobility, he found it hard to drive to committee meetings and even AGMs, he kept in close touch with the Committee, always ready with advice and common sense, a true father-figure for the Association. He played a key role in our 40th celebrations in 2009 and we shall all remember his witty and impromptu speech at our 50th anniversary luncheon a decade later in Appletreewick (at the fine age of 91), and his book of memories. We shall miss his experience, his humour and enthusiasm for everything to do with the Dales Way. But it will be perhaps those two iconic stone seats at each end of the Dales Way that are truly Frank Sanderson’s lasting and living memorial for our own and for generations to come.
Some newly engineered steps mark a major improvement to the footpath between Addingham and Farfield.
The stepway has replaced a difficult, steep sloping section of the path leading down to the rivers edge. Thanks go to rangers at the Bradford Countryside Service for the work.
The tricky section has been the subject of a number of comments from Dales Way walkers, which have been passed on the the council by the Dales Way Association Footpath Officer for the area – Gordon Tasker.
Gordon said “Walkers and local users inform us when they identify issues on any stretch of the path. Please continue to do so through the website email contact address. We can then work with the appropriate stakeholder to progress. It may not always be possible to complete immediately where land owners and boundaries and responsibilities are involved, but jobs are completed as this one shows.”
Colin Speakman won the Golden Eagle award for Outstanding Services to the Outdoors at the meeting of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild this weekend.
Colin is a prolific writer, environmentalist, academic and broadcaster. He was presented with a specially commissioned painting of Pen-y-ghent by the artist and environmentalist, David Bellamy.
A co-creator of the Dales Way, now 50 years old and one of the most popular long distance paths in the country, Colin has written nearly 60 books, covering walking and history, transport guides, biographies, poems and fiction. He has recently been described as one of 20 of Britain’s all-time “Walking Heroes”.
His recent publication was a biography of John Phillips, the influential 19th-century Yorkshire scientist who completed the first detailed geological surveys of the Yorkshire Coast and the Yorkshire Dales and who helped establish the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
The 2nd ever Dales Way Ultra Marathon took place over the weekend of 14th and 15th August. Chris Grogan, Dales Way Association secretary, went to the end to congratulate the runners. Here she is with Steve Dillon, the only runner to complete the 2019 and 2021 Dales Way races AND the brutal Dales High Way Challenge.
‘I’m in awe of their fitness and stamina,’ she said. ‘Most people walk the 82 mile Dales Way in a week. These runners did it in a day or less.’ Winner Greg Judges arrived home in just 17 hours 11 minutes and is pictured here accepting his medal from Ryk Downes, event organiser and DWA committee member.