The Roaches

                                                                                                                        Dales Way - August 7th-11th 2017

Terry Jones, Rich Salt, Netty Salt, Ann Baxter, Nick Barber, Jim Eason, Mark Jones, Alison Bond, Jane Salt, Alison Miller, Gordon Darlington, Sandra Brooks, Mike Riley, Rob Bond, Sean Bond, Harry Bond

DAY 1 - Ilkley to Grassington (17 miles\1563ft)

Here we go again - the Dales Way. This was a repeat of our 2006 walk which was enjoyed and failed by many. Despite the heat and pain experienced in 2006 it was remembered as one of the best of our long distance escapes so there were no problems in attracting takers for this year's walk.

Seventeen had planned to take on the challenge but Ken was forced to pull out at the last minute for personal reasons so this left sixteen of us who travelled up to Ilkley on the Sunday in readiness to complete the walk in five days as opposed to the six days taken previously. The intense heat of 2006 wouldn't repeat itself this year as the forecast promised a mixture of sunshine and showers but no one was complaining.

Mike's other half, Alison M was a new team member who, after completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge a few weeks earlier, was prepared for the walk. Many of the team had completed the same three peaks and were feeling in fine fettle. Other new team members were thirteen year old Harry Bond and his dad Rob who had also completed the YTPs. This was to be their first long distance challenge and both were well up for it.

Nick, Ann, Mike and Gordon were aiming to complete the walk after failing in 2006 whilst Jane, Alison and I were hoping for a second completion. The rest were enjoying the walk for the first time. Terry had managed to slim his 76kg baggage down to a more manageable 16kg so Brigantes, our baggage carriers for the week, would have no reason to not take our luggage to Grassington which would be our destination for the day.

A night of rain had resulted in a damp morning but the rain looked to have disappeared as we formed our starting formation and made our way to the official start of the walk where the now legendary group photo was taken.

The walk stays with the Wharfe for virtually all of the first day so we ambled our way along the pleasant river banks as the sun's heat increased. I don't remember the first few miles as being anything special but either I'd forgotten how nice many of the river sections were or someone had tidied the area up since 2006. It was all very pleasant.

Scenic walking on the banks of the Wharfe near Addingham.

On the fields heading towards Bolton Priory.

As in 2006 we enjoyed a few minutes at the Priory where some went to look for Fred Trueman's grave whilst the rest lay down on the grass and took in the views.

The rather sad looking grave of Fred Trueman.....

.....which left Jane feeling all glum.

The next mile through the wood lined river path helped remove the sadness felt by many and a variety of kid's play things helped keep Harry busy. More excellent river scenery saw us reach the cafe which gave us a chance to take lunch and use the toilets but unfortunately we were unable to use the chairs and tables so sat on the now dry grass.

Miserable old bastard with a face like Fred Trueman's cricket ball spotted in the cafe.

Lunch was over so off we went. The next section takes a superb route through more wooded river scenery towards the Strid, a narrow rocky gorge where the Wharfe, which was running rather high after the previous night's rain, squeezes through at a rate of knots. People have been known to jump the Strid and people have been know to die doing so I persuaded Harry that an attempt to make the jump would be rather dangerous due to the distance and the rather unsavoury landing in the fortunate event of clearing the gap. Harry made the decision to carry on living.

The kid on the Strid.

Next on the route was Barden Bridge after which the tourist traffic drops significantly. An ice cream van tempted some of us but the more professional members of the team abstained so that we could maintain maximum pace to Burnsall and beyond. The link between eating ice cream and knee complaints is well known but this made no difference to Netty and Sandra.

Unprofessional team members filling their boots with sugary fattening ice cream.

The skies darkened to a worrying grey for a while but the rain never came. The few miles from Barden Bridge, again following the river, proved to be easy going so we gained pace and marched like madmen to Burnsall.

River, grey and green on the way to Burnsall.

I'd walked for pretty much all of the day with various odds and sods in my boots but instead of stopping and removing the stones and various plant parts I'd decided to carry on and live with it. On reaching Burnsall I decided enough was anough so took off my boots to empty them - this was a good idea. Everything felt better so there's a lesson to be learnt here - if there's something in your boots get rid! There, told!

There's a nice looking pub in Burnsall so we annoyed Jim by walking straight past it.

Those of us that had walked this stretch in 2006 remembered the kids that were jumping from a rather great height into the river. There was no one taking on the challenge today but it provided a rather interesting comparison in the difference in the river's height between 2006 and 2017....

The Wharfe near Burnsall: 2006 on the left and 2017 on the right. No one fancied tip-toeing across the river in 2017.

We now had only a few more miles to negotiate before reaching Grassington but no one was in any hurry. Terry however wasn't right: he'd been walking with a pronounced leaning to the left which we believed was caused by an incorrectly fitted rucsac but after Mark had taken the rucsac the problem remained. What was going on?

After crossing Jane's favourite wobbly bridge and checking out Linton Falls we marched up the bank and hit the Devonshire Arms in force. We then hit the Black Horse in force which would be our home for the next two nights, the Forresters and the Grassington House hotel bar.

Ali-M looks disgusted as Ann watches Gordon get undressed in his room.'Not bad for a midget'' she apparently said.

Hubberholme was the target for Tuesday but as the George Hotel doesn't open on Tuesdays and the White Lion at Cray doesn't have enough rooms I arranged for a minibus to take us back to Grassington at the end of the walk. The forecast was for clear skies in the morning but a threat of rain in the afternoon. Let's see what happens.

DAY 2 - Grassington to Hubberholme (12 miles\1100ft)

Nick made an announcement at breakfast that no one was expecting. The previous day's walk had resulted in an injury to one of his achilles and was unable to continue. His walk was done so Nick becomes the first Pigholer to fail on the same walk twice which won't be a stat that he'll treasure. The forecast was still promising rain in the afternoon but as this was a relatively short day we'd hopefully be completed by the time any rain turned up. The only problem was that the pre-arranged minibus pickup time to take us back to Grassington from Hubberholme had been set to 5pm so a visit to the pub in Buckden could be required.

Walking through Grassington at the start of day two. Mike and Alison enjoy a loving moment.

The initial route was well known to the members of the team that had walked the Dales Way and\or Inn Way to the Dales. It begins by taking a less than scenic route through cow filled fields before entering wide-open moorland with good views to the north. The skies were grey but it was definitely weather for wearing shorts. Terry decided to don his goggles in an attempt to protect his eyes from the breeze.

The team head towards the limestone outcrop known as Conistone Pie.

Alison, Harry, Jim, Rich and myself were the only people to ascend the 'pie' whilst the other bone idle wasters stood and watched from the path. The views from the 'pie' are excellent but the darkening skies weren't showing the distance dales at their best.

Bone idle wasters generally being wasters.

Shortly after the 'pie' the route descends into the valley but someone wasn't enjoying the day as much as the others. One of Sandra's knees was slowly failing so a support was fitted and the poles used for extra support. This wasn't looking good.

Oh no, Sandra's buggered! Alison gives her some support on the descent into Wharfedale.

Sandra decided to carry on despite Jim's complete lack of interest and the easy going over fields to Kettlewell was just was Sandra needed to help ease the pain. Kettlewell would provide a chance to take lunch and hopefully resist the urge to enter one of the many pubs.

Jim and Sandra sort it out at Kettlewell.

Getting ready for the final few miles from Kettlewell to Hubberholme. Sean and his dwarfs.

Not long after leaving Kettlewell the rain started. It wasn't heavy but warranted the use of waterproof tops and, as is usually the case when walking in rain, we decided to up the pace and get to the pub in Buckden as we were going to reach Hubberholme at least two hours before the arranged pick up. Alison M, who will now be referred to as Ali-M to remove any confusion with Alison B, was suffering from an old toe problem which had resulted in hip pain due to a changed walking style so, despite this being the easiest walk of the week, the injuries were piling up.

The leading group waited for the trailing group and then walked up to the Buck Inn - which was shut. This was something of a disaster as the only other option was to walk a further two miles off route to the White Lion at Cray. Hhhmmm - oh crap! WHY DOESN'T THE GEORGE INN AT HUBBERHOLME OPEN ON A TUESDAY?

The rain was now noticeably heavier so I decided to see if we could get in touch with Brigantes and rearrange the transport to arrive earlier. Mike was the only person who had a mobile signal so I used his phone to call Brigantes to see what they could do. We sent the others off to walk to Hubberholme whilst me, Mike and Ali-M stayed in 'signal' to await the call back.

Mike's phone started to ring so he decided to pass the phone over to me to answer but wet phone fumble ensued and wild gyrations were made in a vain attempt to prevent the phone from hitting the road. Too late! - the phone hit the road and on picking it up we noticed that the screen was cracked. No pub, rain, a lift that was planned for later that year and now a cracked phone - Arrrrrgggghhhhh!

The only silver lining to this part of the walk was that Brigantes confirmed that they'd received a response from one of the taxi drivers but couldn't contact the other. Mike, Ali-M and I decided to set off to join the others at Hubberholme where we expected to stand in the rain for at least an hour. On reaching Hubberholme the only 'open' building was the church so the majority of the team grabbed this chance to dry off whilst Mark and Terry, for some reason, decided to sit outside in the rain.

Team Pighole pray for Brigantes to deliver the goods. Ali-M prays for an Apple screen repair miracle and Sandra prays for her knees. Jane's eyes suggest that there's something going on with the devil.

Jim now had a signal but rather than pass it onto 'butter fingers Bond' decided to call Brigantes himself and pass on the good news that the transport was on its way. We probably spent around a hour in the environs of Hubberholme but the general feeling was that it could have been a lot worse. It wasn't long before we were back in Grassington where a quick shower and change was the order of the day before hitting the pubs.

The team arranged a nice surprise later in the evening for Alison and I by ordering bottles of prosseco and a cheesecake to celebrate our wedding anniversary - cheers all!

Apart from Nick's achilles injury, Sandra's knee, Ali-M's toe and hip, Mike's phone, the increasingly heavy rain and the wait for the return transport it hadn't been too bad a day. The second night in Grassington was enjoyed by all but we knew that the following day would see us yomping over 20 miles over the Pennines to Dent. We knew that Nick wasn't on for it but would we see any more drop outs?

DAY 3 - Hubberholme to Dent (20 miles\1900ft)

After arranging an early breakfast at the Black Horse the taxis turned up to take us back to Hubberholme. We were, however, lighter than expected.

Sandra had decided that her knee couldn't face a twenty miler.
Ali-M had decided that her hip couldn't face a twenty miler.
Mike had decided that he couldn't face a day without Ali-M.
Terry had decided that he couldn't face a twenty miler.
Nick was still knackered.

Terry arranged for one of the taxis to take team spastic to Dent whilst the brave brave remainers donned their rucsacs and set off from Hubberhome under grey skies. The ground was wet from the previous day's rain but the excellent river scenery provided an enjoyable start to the day.

Team Braveheart march towards Dent. Netty's knees are holding up.

At Deepdale we crossed the river on a bridge that some of us had crossed before. We also remembered that it was the scene of a group photo so after grabbing a local sheep shearer (who'd been following us for three days) to take the photo we managed to capture the following shot...

As we continued along the river we knew that at some point the Dent taxi would pass us as the road ran parallel to much of the first few miles. Then, suddenly....

Team Spastic head for Dent. Terry tries to put a brave red crinkly face on it, Sandra tries to hide her face in disgust whilst Ali-M enjoys a day off.

Once we'd stopped flicking the Vs we decided to power on to Beckermonds where the route leaves the river and heads towards the moors via a steep section of road.

Climbing the road towards Oughtershaw.

Ann revels in post-ascent glory. Gordon looks visibly knackered.

After a mile the route leaves the road and heads towards Oughtershaw Moss which, after the wet summer, is superbly named. In 2006 the weather was so dry that we marched over the 'moss' without coming across a single drop of water but today would require careful slow navigation over what can only be described as a sodden mess.

Ann, who's an expert in ensuring that every step finds the muddiest claggiest piece of ground there is, really went to town on this section and showed us all how not to traverse boggy ground. The rest of us tried our best to avoid the mess but we all had one aim - to reach Cam Houses and get off the quagmire.

Ingleborough had come into view which signalled a change from the river scenery we'd enjoyed for the last two and a half days. Today would see us cross the Pennine watershed and the end of the River Wharfe. We were walking high rather than low so the views would change significantly

Only a mile of muddy shit to negotiate to Cam Houses. Hhhmm, looks a bit steep to the right.

We finally reached Cam Houses where we enjoyed the first solid ground for what seemed like an age. The solid ground then turned to road and the gradient turned from 0:1 to 1:3 which is when the puffing and loin girding began.

Baldy Beardy Bob waits for the others at the top of the Cam Houses road climb. Gordon and Ann can be seen in the far, far, far distance. Pen-y-Ghent is the hill in the background.

Some of you may have noticed that we were going off route. This was partly true in that the 'real' Dales Way continues towards Cam End and then onto Gale Moor but I'd decided that rather than add a couple of pointless and rather insipid miles onto the route I'd use the Dales Way watershed alternative which takes a different route on the Pennine Bridleway\Ribble Way. This meant heading north east on the Pennine Way for a short while before turning left and onto the PB\RW.

I can safely say that, without doubt, the alternative route is far more scenic and enjoyable than the 'real' route. The path is excellent and the views over the Three Peaks, the northern Pennines and the Lake District are great.

On the alternative route. Whernside is the hill in the distance.

Heading towards Newby Head Moss with a ghostly Ingleborough in the distance.

We took lunch around a half mile before Newby Head Moss and then walked to the road which is where the long descent to Dent Dale begins.

The weather and the views were glorious and the moderately shit summer meant that the road wasn't melting as had been the case in 2006. Shortly after leaving the road Alison, Rob and Harry decided to take a soggy route to the left whilst the rest of us took the road. This resulted in Harry taking a fall which made Alison turn around and join the rest of us.

Hamster down! Rob about to take on the pit of doom. Rob succeeded but Harry hit the deck. Alison decided that it was too dangerous to continue.

Mark and Alison enjoy a chat.

The road allowed us to rack up a decent pace and there was plenty to see. The viaduct came into view and then the River Dee proved to be a pleasant companion as we marched towards Dent.

Dropping into Dent Dale.

Shortly before reaching the Sportsman Inn, the scene of much revelry in 2006, we came across a seat that brought back a few memories....

The bench in 2017 and 2006 with Princess Potty Fingers. Ken should and would have been there but Macca has doubled in size so we're unlikely to see him on these walks again.

The route leaves the road and takes a twisting path through numerous fields before rejoining the river. The weather was now glorious so the last couple of miles into Dent were enjoyed by all. Terry was waiting to greet us on entering Dent where we headed straight to the George and Dragon and beer!

Mark and Netty enjoying post-walk beers in the George and Dragon.

The beer, and rather large amounts of food, resulted in a reasonably early night for many of us but the promise of another twenty mile walk on the following day probably helped sway the decision to finish early.
DAY 4 - Dent to Burneside (21 miles\2300ft)

Mike, Ali-M and Terry were back! A day of rest had worked wonders for hips, toes and a burnt nose. Netty however wasn't in a fit state to walk thanks to badly blistered feet so was on for a day in Kendal with Nick and Sandra.

We met in front of the George and Dragon at around 9:15am and headed off back to the river to rejoin the Dales Way.

Come on team. Let's do this!

Ali-M and Mike are back on it. Would the twenty one miles see a recurrence of Ali-M's hip and toe problem?

The initial section of the walk takes in similar scenery to that experienced at the end of the previous day with fields and river scenery being the main attraction. The weather was good and there was no forecast for rain.

The scenery suggested that we were now leaving the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District was within our grasp.

After about three miles the route left the river and headed north over the hill towards Sedbergh where the first view over the Howgills marked the beginning of a new stretch of the walk. We knew that the route took a pretty tortuous route around Sedbergh and I did comtemplate missing out the loop to rejoin the Dales Way near Crook of Lune but decided that the terrain was easy and that twenty one miles wasn't an issue.

Heading towards Sedbergh and the Howgills.

The loop around Sedbergh wasn't as bad as I remembered, in fact it was quite scenic, but we still got the feeling that we were going nowhere. The hill called Winder was everpresent in the views which reminded me of the Winchcombe walk on the Cotswold Way.

Harry decides to give Ann and Jim a head start.

The section of walking on the banks of the River Lune was easy going and scenic but the odd stretch of deep oozing mud made for slow going. The pace had dropped from the previous day as the fields, stiles, mud and odd insect bite took its toll. I required medical attention from Gordon and Jane thanks to a rather painful bite from a horse fly...


At one point we missed the Dales Way sign and headed a couple of hundred yards up a road so on realising our mistake headed back to rejoin the route. There were numerous sections of the Dales Way in this area where the route wasn't marked and wasn't clear which resulting in a few 'where to next?' moments. All of this wasted valuable time.

It was this section of the walk which pretty much confirmed how much I hate walking in farm land and around\through farms. It's always a bloody pain and always slow going but the views to the Howgills were excellent and helped break the monotony.

Howgill photo moment or was Harry taking a photo of a cow?

Harry had spent the morning asking me how far it was to the M6 to which I replied, on every occasion, 'five miles'. Despite this ongoing joke the M6 did always feel to be five miles away as it didn't seem to be getting any closer. Eventually, after more directionless tomfoolery, we reached the M6 and 'enjoyed' the view onto the motorway. Harry was happy.

The route wasn't exactly clear once we'd crossed the M6 so Jim took on the task of map reading where at Hardrigg he sent us in completely the wrong direction. My map clearly detailed that we needed to cross the railway line but Jim was sending us south - towards Cornwall. I asked Jim as to why he'd sent us in the wrong direction to which he replied 'That's what it says on my map'. Jim's map is shown below...

Ye Old Jim Mappe from 1693.

More farms, more mud and more route confusion were the norm for the majority of the next couple of miles with one particularly shitty bit of land before Green Head proving a real tester for the boots.

At Bracken Fold a Dales Way sign pointed us in the right direction but another sign, further on, was missing which meant that instead of walking around a farm we walked straight through the middle of it. This was only made possible thanks to a farmer moving his tractor.

One of the more enjoyable sections after the M6. The hills around Kentmere are visible in the distance.

To be fair the missing sign at Bracken Fold probably resulted in us reaching Patton Bridge quicker than we would have done and with dryer feet. It was now 5pm and we had another four miles to walk with a lift from Burneside to Kendal to sort out, check in and get showered up in readiness for a pre-arranged 7:30pm meal. Jim and I reached Patton Bridge before the others and after a few calculations based on reaching Burneside at 6:30pm we decided that hitting the 7:30pm meal was looking dodgy. Only a 4 mph yomp would give us a chance and this wasn't looking possible based on the pace of the last few miles. In retrospect maybe missing out the 'Sedbergh' loop would have been the right thing to do.

My memories of the section between Patton Bridge and Burneside weren't persuading me to risk continuing so Jim rang around for a Kendal taxi company to see if we could get a lift straight back to Kendal. We updated the others but a few were sad that we weren't completing the day. Luckily, repeating the conversation that Jim and I had had with regards to timings appeared to convince them that we were doing the right thing.

Team Failure wait for the taxis at Patton Bridge.

The first taxi appeared relatively quickly so we let the girls and Terry go first. The next two taxis didn't arrive which resulted in Jim having to call the taxi company and repeat that the order was for fourteen people. Apart from this, and the fact that one of the taxi drivers didn't know where Patton Bridge was, all went OK with the final journey taken in a taxi containing five of us.

We'd walked 17.5 miles so were happy with the day's work. We'd probably set off too late but the earliest we could take breakfast was 8:30am so we hadn't a great deal of choice unless we'd rearranged the breakfast time or missed out on breakfast altogether. The latter wouldn't have been a great start for a 21 mile walk with no shops on the way.

The check-in process at the Kendal Premier Inn proved to be a time consuming affair so it looks like we made the right choice in aborting. One day to go but the forecast was for rain.

DAY 5 - Burneside to Bowness (11 miles\1100ft)

Gordon had had enough and decided that he'd miss the last day. For years it was Jane who'd let Gordon down but he was now the failure despite organising an attempt on Jane's life earlier in the year. Despite Jane's horrific injuries she was about to get another gold and level with Gordon on nine golds. Is Gordon getting too old for these walks? Netty was back to take on the shorter day so forgot about the blisters and booted up.

The weather was overcast and drizzly as we waited for the bus to take us to Burneside but no one cared about the rain as this was the last day so no one cared about getting a good soaking.

The rain. although light, came and went and we wondered if we may be lucky and miss the worst of it as we bimbled along by the River Kent.

It's a double thumbs up from Rich but Netty looks worried.

The river scenery up to Staveley is excellent which is where we left the river to head west on the final stretch towards Bowness. This is when the rain decided to get heavier so waterproof tops were the bare minimum with many of us wearing waterproof bottoms too.

The rain was a shame as the final few miles take in some nice scenery both near and far. It was head down and go time - sod it!

The Hamster decides to use my hat for rain protection.

The rain wasn't stopping so neither were we.

Having a laugh in the rain. How shit is Ali-M's waterproof? Buy her a new one Mike.

Bond Tours does it again.

Ali-M's waterproof wasn't doing much in the way of waterproofing so Mark kindly lent her his 'proper' waterproof for the rest of the walk. Mark resigned himself to getting really wet in his wind stopper.

After much watery, walkery and wettery we finally reached the Dales Way seat and tried to work out how we'd manage to get our end of walk shot. No one wanted to get their camera out in the rain and no Bowness resident had been arsed to walk up the bank in the miserable rain so Rich and Netty decided to take it in turns to get the final shots...

End of walk shot 1 - No Rich.

End of walk shot 2 - No Netty or Mike but the Sandeman has appeared. Mark, quite strangely, manages to maintain exactly the same look as the previous shot.

The poor weather on the final day meant that we'd missed out on the glorious views over the Lake District which was a real shame as I remembered it as being one of the highlights of our 2006 walk and definitely one of the best ends to any walk we'd done. Today - it just rained.

Some of us discussed going straight to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes but this was quickly dismissed on entering the Royal Oak and enjoying its ale and roaring fire. Sandra, Nick and Gordon came to welcome us home - all was good.

Young Harry the Hamster signs the Dales Way completion book.

Yes, that's him.

More beers were enjoyed in the Royal Oak as Lisa, Grace, Swarbs and Macca joined us. They didn't deserve any beers as they hadn't done anything to deserve them but we let them join in anyway.

It'd been another good walk with the five day option providing a mid-week challenge with the near forty miles to be walked in two days. We didn't quite manage this due to timing issues but I'm sure the walkers on the Thursday would have completed the final four miles to Burneside if it wasn't for the pre-arranged meal.

Nick's lack of practice proved to be his downfall so will he kick in again now he's retired?

As for the other silver medal winners:

Ali-M's failure to walk the Wednesday came as a bit of shock after she'd blasted the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Mike, I believe, dropped out to 'assist' Ali-M on her day off and wasn't either injured or knackered -  or was he?

Terry is nearly 76 so deserves a day off but I reckon he'd have completed the week if challenged.

Sandra's Jersey gold looks to be a bit of a one-off. Her knee problems reappeared on day two which signalled the end of her walk. Can she make a comeback?

Netty's knees survived the week but she couldn't get over her blistered feet.

Gordon's decision to not walk on the Friday was a strange one and we've yet to obtain a reason for this seemingly hopeless behaviour. Jane - sort him out.

As for the gold medal people:

Alison, despite feeling very tired, managed the walk with ease and adds to her impressive tally of golds.

Jane too, despite her hopeless partner, managed to complete the walk despite her recent arm injury preventing her from doing any real training.

Ann is the oldest of our gold medal winners and completed the walk with ease. Is she getting better with age?

Rich was another who breezed through the week and maintained his record of solid golds.

Jim, despite navigational issues, also managed to complete without a murmur but then again we all expected that from the baldy wanderer of the Moorlands.

Mark also had no difficulties in completing the walk despite having the odd fag.

And finally, Rob and Harry eased along the 80+ miles with the latter making it look easy despite being only 13 - Well done! Will they be joining us for next year's walk?

Here's the injury table....

Walker Blisters Knee Insect Bite Toe Hip Wankle Foot Ache Left Leaning Achilles Tiredness
Sean X     X        
Alison                 X
Alison-M     X X          
Rich     X        
Netty X                  
Nick             X  
Terry       X    
Sandra   X                
Mark             X      


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