Pocket Routes

The Cross-Dales Trails

The Cross-Dales Trails are still in the planning stage, but routes have been mapped and all being well, at least one of these guides will be published in 2021. At the moment there are five walks planned for this new series of trails.

The routes have all been planned with a clear set of guiding principles in mind:

1. It should be possible to complete each walk over a long weekend. As such, I have tried to restrict the length of the routes to no more than 60 miles, broken down over four days of walking.

2. No single day of any walk should be longer than 16 miles, and most should average around 12-13 miles. Any longer than this and days can become a long slog, and it makes the routes suitable for only the very fittest of walkers, especially when you factor in the next rule.

3. Wherever practical, the route should choose a high path over a low one and make good use of Open Access land. This means that walkers need good navigation skills and are comfortable with no path beneath their feet.

4. Where possible, the quieter, less frequented path should be chosen over the more popular (and populous) one. It’s difficult to achieve the solitude and peace I experienced on Embsay Moor when you’re bumping into other walkers all day long.

5. Each day should end in a village with accommodation, or with frequent public transport links to another village with accommodation. Although all these routes can be backpacked, and wild-camping options abound, I wanted them to be open to those who prefer a soft bed each night.

6. It should be possible to complete the walk without relying on a car. This means that the start and end points of each walk should be served by some sort of public transport option.

Cross-Dales Trail 1: Settle to Richmond

We leave Settle and climb east, walking beneath the limestone cliffs of Attermire Scar. We then cut between Malham village and the Tarn and cross the grassy moorland around the wonderfully named Hawkswick Clowder, before dropping down and around the nose of Middlesmoor Pasture into our overnight stop in Kettlewell. Day two begins with a long steady climb along Top Mere Road, not quite reaching the summit of Buckden Pike, instead cutting north east below Naughtberry Hill, above the valleys of Bishopdale and Waldendale into West Burton (or Aysgarth). Day three sees us pass the popular Wensleydale tourist spots of Aysgarth Falls and Bolton Castle before venturing into the mining ruins on Redmire Moor and Grinton Moor and then down, through Grinton into the bustling village of Reeth. Our final day takes us on a steep climb up to Marrick Moor, across Skelton Moor and then down to the village of Marske. From there we join the Coast to Coast path beneath Whitcliffe Scar into Swaledale’s major settlement and our destination, Richmond.

The route is approximately 51 miles long, with the longest day being 14.7 miles.

Cross-Dales Trail 2: Skipton to Kirkby Stephen

We leave Skipton walking through the town, past the castle and through the village of Embsay before climbing up to and across Embsay, and Barden Moors and then down to follow the River Wharfe into Grassington, home to the new ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ TV series. Day two takes us up Wharfedale, mostly on the Dales Way as far as Kettlewell, but then adopting rule three and taking higher path options to Starbotton and onwards to overnight in Buckden. With no reasonable high route options, day three takes us up Langstrothdale to begin with, before we climb Oughtershaw Road and cross to Dodd Fell Hill. From here we use the West Cam Road and a section of the Pennine Way to reach Hawes or Hardraw. On the fourth and final day we cross the valley of Wensleydale and climb Great Shunner Fell, at which summit we head west across Angram Common and then north along the Mallerstang ridge before dropping down across Great Bell, through Nateby and on to Kirkby Stephen or its station.

The route is approximately 53 miles long, with the longest day being 15.2 miles.

Cross-Dales Trail 3: Kirkby Stephen to Skipton

We begin this walk in Kirkby Stephen (or at its train station) and walk through the
valley, beside the River Eden for the first path of the day, before taking a high path into the head of Wensleydale to reach our first overnight stop in Hardraw, or Hawes. On
day two we climb and cross Wether Fell and then cut east, down to Raydale and the glistening jewel of Semer Water. From there we climb again, along the old Roman road over Stake Moss and along Buckden Rake to the village of Buckden, at the head of Wharfedale. Day three see us climbing up to Firth Fell and following the windswept ridge between Wharfedale and Littondale, before dropping down to Hawkswick in Littondale, then through Kilnsey and Conistone, into Wharfedale again and our overnight stop in Grassington. Our final day takes quiet paths to Thorpe and then climbs one of my favourite Dales paths, up to Thorpe Fell and around the edge of Cracoe Fell, before dropping down to Embsay and our destination in Skipton.

The route is approximately 53 miles long, with the longest day being 15.8 miles.

Cross-Dales Trail 4: Sedbergh to Masham

High level alternatives would make for a very tough first day, so we leave Sedbergh and follow the Dales Way through Dentdale for most of the day. If you can’t secure accommodation in the lonely Sportsman’s Inn at Cowgill, you can use Dent station to overnight in Settle. Day two see us crossing Gayle Moor on a new bridleway and enters Langstrothdale via Oughtershaw before arriving once again in the perfectly placed village of Buckden. Day three sees a little more southerly travel, before turning east at Starbotton, and a bracing climb over the peaty saddle of land between Great and Little Whernside. Dropping down to the reservoir, the Nidderdale Way provides a useful path into our overnight stop in Middlesmoor. On our final day we climb up to Ouster Bank and then along a good track across Arnagill Moor, before descending to Leighton Reservoir and picking up a series of footpaths into Yorkshire’s brewing capital, Masham.

The route is approximately 55 miles long, with the longest day being 15.4 miles.

Cross-Dales Trail 5: Shap to Settle

Leaving Shap we head east, over the M6 motorway and into more territory added to the Dales in 2016. We cross Crosby Ravensworth Fell, the limestone pavement of Great Asby Scar, then over Ravenstonedale Moor and into our overnight stop in Newbigginon-Lune. Day two sees us take a high route through the Howgill Fells, over Hooksey and Randygill Top, to skirt the head of Cautley Spout waterfall then over Calders and Arant Haw, down into Sedbergh. The first couple of miles of day three are through Dentdale until we turn south, climbing across rugged pasture to reach Great Coum and the lofty ridge of Gragareth, then down across limestone pavement to Ingleton. Our final day uses one of the finest ascent routes to reach the summit of Ingleborough, before dropping down past Gaping Gill and across more limestone country to reach the tiny village of Feizor. A final stretch across more limestone and along the River Ribble takes us to our destination, Settle.

The route is approximately 56 miles long, with the longest day being 16.2 miles.