Previously, I had walked the Leeds to Ilkley Dales Way link. Back then, I hiked over to Skipton on the Dales High Way, back then actually thinking somehow this was the Dales Way. Well, there is two of them in fact, so this time, I picked up the trail from Ilkley north in one massive 4-day hiking holiday – completing the Dales Way (which officially starts in Ilkley and finishes in Bowness upon Windermere) in the four days. This is the first leg of this hike.
This leg, although the shortest of the four, took place on an unbelievably hot day – it was at least 28C and occasionally more as I was walking the 13.7 miles. Luckily, there was lots of woodland cover, so that helped.
There is little ascent on the way between Ilkley and Burnsall as the trail follows mostly River Wharfe. The route goes up very slowly up. The views start immediately out of Ilkley. It might have been extremely got on the day, but it certainly helped with the photos!
The first two miles lead west, but as the river twists towards the north (upstream) so does the trail.
At about 4 miles, just past Addingham, after a quick walk through its outskirts, the route becomes greener and greener. This is, however, not a remote walk – most of the time these are local routes used by many and on that particular day many people were out for splashing in the water and camping trips, using the sun.
About one mile after passing Addingham, there is a short hike up a hill with a lovely views towards the north of the river and the surrounding hills.
Then one rapidly descents down to River Wharfe’s banks and follows it on the flat.
Another mile or so and the walker begins to approach the village of Bolton Bridge, to one’s left (west). It was barely 6 miles now but in the scorching heat it already felt like 15! The sight of cool river waters is somehow soothing even when one can’t just jump in.
The beautiful Bolton Abbey, with its stepping stones (used by many children on the way) is about 6.5 miles in on this route. There were plenty of people with their children here, many families enjoying the day. Fantastic views all around!
I took a break here (the last photo, just after crossing the river to its eastern bank, mostly for water, on a stone bench here, and then followed steeply up for the next 5 minutes into a maintained forest.
Then, equally as suddenly, the path descends down (these are 5 minute walk / 100 feet elevation differences). The walk continues on the same side of the river until reaching The Park Bridge over River Wharfe again to its west side bank. The first photo below is of the bridge and the next is the view from the bridge to the north.
The next 1.5 miles gave me much needed cover from the sun under the trees canopy along the river bed. This is a well maintained path, and flat. The views along the way are delightfully serene and beautiful. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The quality of the green juxtaposed almost poetically with the river is difficult to describe in words alone.
Eventually, the path emerges out of the woods onto an aqueduct, and this is the view that you get from it:
Now we’re again on the river’s east bank, following it towards the north-west, then north, then north-east until the village of Appletreewick.
Just before Appletreewick, the path becomes narrower, giving the walker – finally! – the feeling of a more countryside-y kind of walk. The scenery before was lovely, but slightly too maintained for my remoteness-loving nature.
From Appletreewick, it is only about 3 miles to Burnsall. Here, there are more campsites and there were many more people again – can’t blame anyone wanting to be near water with 28C still in the air (and it was already 5pm!) . To Burnsall, it is to the north-west on the east bank of River Wharfe. I’ll let the photography to give you the flavour of what surrounds you on this last bit of the walk.
The last image above was taken from the bridge over the river leading into the village of Burnsall, which lies on the west side of the village. I took my well-deserved rest for the day here, largely cooling down!