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.
Ramblers throughout Yorkshire are delighted to be welcomed back to the Yorkshire Dales, especially now that inns and guest houses can welcome walkers along the 81-mile Dales Way.
The Dales Way footpath, linking Ilkley in Wharfedale with Bowness on Lake Windermere, has long been one of Britain’s favourite walks, attracting many repeat visits and also visitors from overseas. Sadly, the pandemic had virtually closed much of the route for staying visitors since autumn 2020, but now that hotels and guest houses are open, walkers can once again enjoy a wonderful short break along the magnificent scenery of the Dales Way.
The first group to do so was a group of ten people from the Leeds-Bradford area who set off from Ilkley on Monday May 17th the first day guest houses were open and arrived in Bowness on Saturday. Members of the group, all “empty nesters”, people of a certain age whose teenage children had left home allowing their parents new freedom, had planned the walk and booked their accommodation months ahead.
Tim Barber, from Burley-in-Wharfedale, leader of the group commented: “Everything was great and the welcome from all the accommodation providers was wonderful – they were so happy to be back doing what they do best, providing a great warm welcome”.
Colin Speakman, Chairman of the Dales Way Association added “We are so pleased that walkers are coming back as staying visitors to the Dales. Spending up to £100 per day on food and accommodation, Dales Way walkers will provide a significant boost to the Dales economy, helping struggling catering and other rural businesses to survive after what has been a dreadful 16 months of pandemic.”
However, he also warned would-be walkers to book accommodation in advance, especially evening meals, as demand in this summer of staycations is likely to be high, and there could be some pubs and cafes that don’t reopen because of the impact of the long lockdowns.
Another short diversion is in place near Sedbergh as further work is needed to make safe a path eroded by river flooding.
The short section of footpath is to be found beyond where the Dales Way crosses the road bridge from Millthrop across the River Rawthey, then turns left across a field and through a section of woodland (SD 6585 9135). The affected section is the part where the path passes through a narrow, enclosed dip. Similar work took place here last summer.
An alternative, easy to follow section of permissive path leads off to the right just before this point, to rejoin the main footpath just before leaving the wooded area.
The work is expected to continue throughout the summer.
The Dales Way features in another top list – this time in the Financial Times’ Top 10 scenic spots for runners in Britain.
Fergus Scholes writes “What better way to enjoy a run than in breathtaking British countryside, traversing its long-distance footpaths and National Trails? We’ve rounded up the best scenic spots to put you through your paces.”
A new Dales Way Information Board has just been installed at Barden Bridge, after the old frame of the previous one finally rotted away.
The new frame was constructed at the National Park’s Maintenance shop in Grassington, fitted with the last of our new Information Boards and installed by National Park rangers. The frame is made of Accoya acetylated wood, sustainably sourced with FSC® certification and it has minimal environmental impact throughout its entire life.
The £675 cost of construction was covered by a donation from the Dales Way Association. This is one of 9 Information boards along the route of the Dales Way.
The boards first appeared in 2004 thanks to hard work by DWA members Margaret and Ken Staines. The sketch drawings are by Patricia Hickman.