Dales Way certainly left the best for the last. This very long day – 29.5 miles – provided extremely beautiful views and a huge variety of scenery, from the slow-flowing rivers in the Sedbergh area to the Swiss-like (i.e. mountains + lakes) views near Bowness-on-Windermere.
Following the previous day on the Dales Way, I slept on the campsite at Holme Farm. The day started misty and mysterious, although that cleared later in the morning. By 6am, my tent and all else was in my bag and I was on my way. First, I needed to make my way back to the actual Dales Way trail, just about 1.5 miles east, essentially retracing my steps the previous day to the nearest bridge over River Rawthey. You can appreciate it was misty and foggy in the morning looking at this photo taken about halfway to the bridge.
The moment I reached the bridge and when I was on the northern bank on the River, I turned left (west). After about a mile along the river, the trail joins a more major Station Road (but not busy at 6am on a Sunday!). Just before I got there, I turned back to take a photo of the rising sun…
The wooded area near the river itself blocked the view, but once I reached Station Road, the view of the hills over the river to the south emerged.
It is a one-minute walk on the road and the trail is soon off it – first it continues briefly across fields to the west, but after less than 1 mile it swings north – River Lune is to the walker’s left, although not close enough to necessarily see it. This is largely farmland, but at that time of day, it was entirely deserted. Another half a mile and eventually the trail takes one close enough to the river and you can admire the Lincoln Inn’s Bridge.
Just past the bridge, some impressive atmospheric sunrise-style views towards the hills to the north emerged.
We follow the river to the north for a little while – where Crossdale Beck joins River Lune, there is another enormous picturesque bridge.
That is almost instantly followed by a brisk and very steep rise as the trails starts moving away from River Lune now. The bridge just passed can now be appreciated from above:
Another 4 miles has the traveller follow River Lune generally towards the north, with the river to one’s left. At first, there are lots of farmhouses the trail goes past and then lots of pleasant flattish pastures on an easy path. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:
As you can see, it was now getting sunnier and clearer and the fog had dissipated. Where the trail turns west towards M6 (which it goes under about a mile later), there is a bridge over River Lune providing the most extraordinary beautiful view:
By now, I had been already walked for 9 miles, so it was a good place for the first proper break, about 20 minutes for food and drink.
Now towards the west. Once past M6, walking westwards now, it is amazing how quickly the noise of the very major motorway vanishes and one is again surrounded by the superb countryside and fields.
The next two miles, mostly downwards, towards a bridge over the railway tracks down below and then the road called Docker Brow, are on small paths and minor roads. Only tiny hamlets are on the way such Lambrigg, which present themselves to the walker as individual houses rather than any settlement clusters.
When there is down, there is always soon up and past Docker Brow, the path took me up past some very grassy and picturesque fields and towards the Patton Bridge area just before which I temporarily lost my way – always a bit difficult when you walk across pastures with no discernible path!
The path at Patton Bridge was difficult enough to find – so difficult, in fact, I didn’t find it!, and took a stroll up a hill there around the village, rewarded by superb views of the area from above.
As I rejoined the trail, it crossed a minor road that goes south towards Meal Bank and eventually leads to the town of Kendal. I, however, crossed it to the west towards the very peaceful and deserted Black Moss Tarn.
From the tarn it is a quick descent towards a single house down below. From there, an initially narrow path soon becomes wider until one is walking on a tarmac road – basically no traffic – to the west and A6. The Lake District mountains are far in the horizon and will remain there for most of the time until the end of the route.
It’s a steep walk down towards A6. This can’t be seen in the photo below, but to the left Kendal is clearly visible.
My next proper stop was to be (and it was) Burneside, now only 2 miles away. This is a very easy part of the walk – flat, just across fields until reaching the village.
I was hoping to find a cafe in Burneside – there was supposed to be one, according to Google Maps, but it didn’t seem to find its way to reality when I got there – it was Sunday! – so I got some food from a grocery shop and ate it in a little park space nearby. Spent there probably about 30 minutes.
There was still another 10 miles to go!
Out of Burnside (the trail essentially goes to the west now, twisting and turning, but mostly in the same direction), a flat easy riverside (River Kent) walk towards Cowan Head follows. A pleasant and easy stretch.
At Cowan Head, the trail turns temporarily north to then turn back west again. Once past a clearly posh high-end new development (Cowan Head Luxury Apartments), it follows River Kent with the views intensifying in beauty as one walks towards the village of Staveley 2 miles away. A good path, so there were some families with children here – I don’t blame them, I’d bring my own daughter here, too!
At Staveley, I took a short break on a bench on A591 (well, no, not on A591, on the pavement there!). Then on the other side of the road, the trail continues west, quickly leaving the village behind.
A quick ascent here past the last houses of Staveley rewards the walker with this beautiful open view to the north.
The walker now is clearly in the outlying hills of the Lake District – pastures are everywhere around but it’s steeper and more dramatic. The trail goes past Kerris Hill, for instance – it is only about 200ft high, but it is up and down almost all the way into Bowness-on-Windermere here. The Lake District mountains on the other (western) side of Lake Windermere (at this point hidden from view) are beginning to come into view here. Some of this part of the trail is on minor tarmac roads – but it is becoming more and more extremely beautiful.
Eventually, near School Knott Tarn a bit to the north and a bit down below and the Grandsire hill (251m) nearby, one comes to this place (there doesn’t seem to be any name for it) with the stupendously beautiful view:
As you can imagine, I stayed up there for a few minutes, grinning like a schoolboy!
Now it’s steep down to the hamlet of Clearbarrow, first south. The views keep coming!
From Clearbarrow, it’s just 1 mile west to Bowness, where the Dales Way trail ends. For the most part, these are well-maintained paths for local people so it’s easy walking (as you can imagine, after 27 miles walking, I welcomed that!)
Eventually, Lake Windermere comes into view as one reaches the outskirts of Bowness-on-Windermere with this stunning view – there is a stone bench here placed specifically for the likes of me (Dales Way walkers) – I spent quite some time here, resting (mostly resting my feet) and enjoying the splendour of this place.
You might think this is it! Wrong! The trail itself ends here, but I still needed to walk to the Windermere train station, another 1 mile or so! Once down in the streets, there were no views anymore, so I did not take any photos.
I had over an hour upon arriving near the station before my train from Windermere back home, so I congratulated myself on the achievement of completing the Dales Way (including the Dales Way link from Leeds) in 5 days by getting a meal at a pizza restaurant near the station!