A 90 mile walk across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales
A Dales High Way Walk: a 90 mile walk across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales

A Dales High Way



REPORT by Chris Grogan:

After a week of grey skies and cloud so low that you could barely see the horizon, the first ever Friends of A Dales High Way walk was blessed with glorious autumn Dales Way Association arrive from Bradford along the Canal at Saltaire sunshine. Six Friends met at the start of the route, by the lions guarding Victoria Hall, Saltaire.

The lions are called Peace, War, Vigilance and - most appropriate for the start of a journey - Determination. A quick walk down Victoria Road took us onto the canal towpath where we met a group of Dales Way walkers.

The Dales Way Association's autumn walk had followed the Bradford Link route and stopped in Saltaire for lunch. As the link route from Saltaire to Ilkley and parts of the first section of A Dales High Way are common we had agreed to join forces. The two routes, Dales Way and Dales High Way complement each other, the one following the valleys and riverbanks, the other seeking out high places and fell tops and Friends of A Dales High Way and Dales Way Association members are always keen to work - and walk - together.

We left the towpath at Hirst Wood with its lock gates and old mill cottages and were quickly climbing Friends of A Dales High Way and members of the DWA climb through Trench Woods through the ancient woodland of Trench Wood onto Shipley Glen. Mill workers from Bradford traditionally escaped onto Shipley Glen to enjoy open countryside far above the dirt and grime of the city. Today it's still a favourite and we greeted families, dog walkers and joggers as we headed north towards the moors. At Golcar Farm the two routes part company and we stopped for a "you tak the high road and I'll tak the low road" moment. The Dales High Way group bravely made our way through a field of snoozing cattle, stopping to look left and right for galloping horses on the training track before heading up a quiet lane to the busy Otley Road. We were soon over the stile and enjoying the isolation of Rombalds Moor. As one walker commented, "One minute we were enjoying the bustle of Saltaire, the next we're high on the moors with no-one in sight."

Our route continued north in a steady climb over the moor. Looking back we picked out familiar landmarks Meeting at the Boubdary stone on Rombals Moor as far away as Ferrybridge Power Station and the wind turbines on Ovenden Moor. It was wet underfoot at times from the recent heavy rain but perfectly passable and before long we spotted the boundary stone where the Dales Way and Dales High Way routes meet again. We'd only been there for a minute or so when the Dales Way group came up their path - perfect timing - and we set off together for the last two miles or so down into Ilkley.

We took a short break to admire Yorkshire's very own mini Stonehenge, the Bronze Age Twelve Apostles stone circle before tackling the knee-crunching descent into Ilkley where we rounded the day off with a pint of Ilkley Brewery's very fine Mary Jane. It was a grand day out and we hope very much to do it again sometime.

Start with DeterminationGUIDED WALK 

Section One, Saltaire to Ilkley 

(7½  miles, moderately strenuous)

Saturday, 15th October 2011, 12.30 p.m.

Meet outside Victoria Hall, Victoria Rd., Saltaire (by the Lions), at 12.20 p.m. for a 12.30 p.m. prompt start. (2 minutes walk from Saltaire Station).

Friends of A Dales High Way are invited to join us on a walk of the first section of A Dales High Way from the start at Victoria Hall, Saltaire, to Ilkley. The route follows the canal before climbing through the rural outskirts of Saltaire on to a high-level traverse of Rombalds Moor, finishing with a steep rocky descent from Ilkley Moor into Ilkley. We will be then retire to the Bar t'at pub where you can buy drinks and food.

Return trains can be taken from Ilkley to Saltaire, via Shipley.

We will be joined by members of The Dales Way Association, who are walking the Bradford Dales Way Link Route from Bradford to Ilkey (13 miles total distance, the two routes are similar between Saltaire and Ilkley, parting company at Golcar Farm to follow different paths onto the moor, before joining up again at the milestone at the junction of Burley, Bingley and Ilkley Moors). 

The Bradford Dales Way Link starts outside the Cathedral Gates in Bradford Forster Square, meeting at 9.50 a.m. for a prompt start at 10 a.m. There follows a section of gritty, urban, inner city walking and some surprising green corridors, to join the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Shipley on to Saltaire. (4½  miles, easy).

A detailed OS map of the Dales High Way route can be found here. A detailed OS map of The Dales Way route can be found here.


Whilst the walk leader will take every care, your comfort and safety is your own responsibility. The pace will be reasonably brisk. Good footwear and adequate clothing are essential. You should carry enough food and drink for the day. Under 18's must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Unfortunately, as this is a joint group walk we request no dogs - sorry!