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Our first Long Distance footpath from Ilkley To Bowness on Windermere. After completing many day walks over weekends and short holidays we looked for our next challenge and decided to walk the Dales Way, one of the established long distance footpaths in the UK but not recognised as an official National Trail. At 84 miles we thought that we could comfortably do this within 5 or 6 days holiday and then take a second week to explore the Lake District afterwards.

After a little planning in advance over the previous 6 months we had all of our accommodation booked together with the services of a courier to take our luggage from place to place and set off for Kendal, on the edge of the lakes. Although this wasn't the start of the walk we planned to leave the car there, use the facilities of a good hotel - The Castle Green Hotel - where we could return to easily on the penultimate and last days of the walk.

It was a little strange the following day to be driven by the courier to the Town where the walk starts, Ilkley, thinking that we are going to have to get all the way back by ourselves on foot! A nice evening so we walked onto the moors and disaster almost struck before we had started - Liz fell over twisting her ankle, luckily nothing too serious.

Next morning after a good breakfast we set off in very warm weather but the British climate was going to have something to say about that before the day was out. The first day's walking was very easy but passed through very touristy areas especially Bolton Abbey and the Strid. The warm weather had also brought out all of the weekend drivers and day trippers, parking their cars in the many attractive riverside villages, setting up picnic tables and watching their kids bomb each other in the river, some just about managing a little walk and make it as far as the nearest picnic site, how things would change towards the end of the day!

It was quite easy to spot those other Dales Way walkers setting off  with a variety of guide books in hand and over the course of the next week we would constantly meet up or pass by the same people either at the beginning and end of the day or at rest spots. It was quite reassuring to know that certain people were heading in our direction and I think that we all looked out for each other in a small way on the route.

Apart from the crowds the first days walking was relatively flat and the route easy to follow as it stayed quite close to the river for most of the way to Burnsall, however our first day's walking was about to  finish in dramatic fashion. About 5 miles away from Burnsall we were caught up in a thunderstorm, thinking it had passed we carried on, only to be hit again a mile from our guest house, this time it hit hard. Within a minute the car park by the river in Burnsall was completely flooded, people were leaving picnics on the ground running for cars, many to their regret had left sun roofs open. By the time we had walked across two field adjoining the river the water was already bursting over the riverbank and along the road. We waded into Burnsall the local residents were getting out the sandbags and brushing as much of the water back as they could. A car parked in the pub was floating out the driveway.

We were wet! Would we ever dry our things out? And it was only Day 1. The owner of the guest house, The Manor House, took care of the boots and luckily the baggage carriers had delivered our cases, so we had plenty of dry gear.

It may have taken the floating car a little bit longer to dry out!



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