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Ashley Heeley's James Herriot Way Diary

My James Herriot Way Diary 2009


This year proved extremely difficult to organise for lots of reasons, time, finances, picking a time suitable for everyone etc etc. The original plan was to do the Cleveland Way with the whole gang, that is Dale and myself together with Matt, Karen, Mike and Mark of young hostellers fame (how long they can keep the prefix young I donít know). A number of dates were discussed, agreed, changed, and discounted. We eventually plumped for October half term until somebody brought to our attention the strong possibility of wind, rain, wind, cold, wind, shorter days and wind. After some thought this was abandoned which left us with little time to plan and do something.

As the family were planning a ďstaycationĒ this year (horrible term), I was still hoping to get away, even for a few days, so I started to look for alternatives. I came across the James Herriott Way which looked ideal because:

1. It was fairly local (in the same county so getting there and back shouldnít be a problem)
2. It could be done comfortably in 4 days so a long weekend would do it minimising time off work.
3. The stages were very do-able given our experiences over the last 3 years and our general lack of preparedness and fitness.
4. I knew the area fairly well but it was an area I love.

The downside was that, only Matt could join Dale and I for the Friday night, Saturday and Sunday as Karen and Mike were away in Scotland on the only weekend we could do it and Mark was busy at work. The good bit was that Bruce from Darlington, our old friend from college, would be able to join us on the Saturday. Both Dale and I were looking forward to seeing a friend we hadnít seen for a long time.

We decided to B & B it again and Iíll review these at the end. I booked these direct but booked the baggage transfer via Sherpa which went smoothly with one exception Iíll mention later.

Like the previous C2C, West Highland Way and South Downs Way diaries, this one was done mainly at the end of the day on the Blackberry and sent to the unfortunate select few who, whether they like it or not, keep up to date with our adventures. Iíve tidied them up a bit but they are, in the main, done in ďreal timeĒ so apologies about the style (or lack of it).


James Herriot Way

The JHW is a 52 mile round walk starting in Aysgarth and going through Hawes, Keld, Reeth and back to Aysgarth. It can be done clockwise or anti clockwise (obviously as itís a circular walk!). I ordered the book by Norman Scholes which takes you anti-clockwise. The book, although re-printed, still seemed outdated and didnít really help much. Sherpa Van provided a baggage transfer service for this walk but went clockwise. I really didnít want to carry all my stuff, being long in the tooth and used to home comforts. even on a fairly short walk, so after deliberation I decided to go clockwise but use the map and plot my own route round, so it became the James Herriot Way and a bit.

The James Herriot Way route is based around the books written by Alf White, whose practice was based in Thirsk. There is a museum and other Herriot related things in Thirsk based in the old practice. Thirsk, which became Darrowby in the books and 23 Kirkgate, Thirsk, Skeldale House the fictional home of the practice. The house has now been renamed Skeldale House. The walk was devised to follow the route taken by ďJames HerriotĒ during his honeymoon in 1941, when he stopped in The Wheatsheaf in Carperby and spent a few days TB testing cattle in the area. The walk also covers areas used in the film and TV adaptions of the books. I read the books many years ago and watched the TV series when it was on and always enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to seeing these areas again and visit parts of the Dales I hadnít been to.

As we planned to plot our own route in some parts, Iím unsure of the exact mileage, in particular the day from Tan Hill to Reeth, there is some guess work but it gives a rough guide.





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