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James Herriot Way Diary
I must admit, the walk was far more enjoyable than I expected. I suppose, because I know the area quite well, I expected it to be too familiar and therefore less enjoyable. What I didnít bank on though was the fair weather. The Saturday was glorious, a near perfect day. The first 2 days were cloudy but dry and the final day was lovely and clear. The walk also offers tremendous contrasts from river walks, agricultural land, high moor land, and stunning valleys. Sometimes these contrasts are all in one day. My favourite day had to be the Hawes to Tan Hill day. It really had everything from a pretty start on the way to Hardraw, the long climb and many false summits to the top of Great Shunner Fell. The drop down into the lovely village of Thwaite. The walk from Thwaite to Keld where the views of Swaledale were quite breathtaking. The lovely spot near Kisdon Force and the last 4 miles to Tan Hill with the light just beginning to fade was just lovely. To end it all we had a great evening in Tan Hill. A perfect day really.
Iím glad in hindsight we did the walk clockwise. I think had we done the leg from Hawes to Aysgarth last it might have been a bit of a let down to end the walk, but it was a good start to the walk as it got you limbered up and your legs used to the idea of walking 12/13 miles a day.
The accommodation was good (reviewed at the end), although some of the food in the pubs was a bit of a let down. The Crown in Hawes was OK but not worth the near £10 I paid and Tan Hill was a bit disappointing. The Kings Arms in Reeth was good though, probably takes the prize this time.
I would also like to thank our respective wives. Dales wife Kate, who was trying to juggle two young children, preparing to move house and generally having a stressful time while we were away deserves special thanks. As does Janine for taking us up to Aysgarth and bringing us back (late but never mind we had a great time cheese tasting over the next few days), and holding the fort, walking the dog etc while I was away. Matt for keeping us company for 2 days. Always a good companion. Bruce for understanding my map instructions and making the effort to meet up with us mid walk. It was really good to see him again. We raised a toast to absent friends, namely Karen, Mike and Mark. Hope we can join up with them soon.
The walk would be a good warm up for anyone thinking about doing a longer walk like the Coast to Coast. It might be a better choice than the Dales Way as there are more climbs. It is do-able by anyone really; itís not particularly difficult but still leaves you with a sense of achievement.
I think the book needs updating, with more photos, perhaps some alternatives and the option to go either way round.
Overall then, I lovely break and brilliant 4 days. What now?
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