Dales Way Day 1: Ilkley to Burnsall

I’m typing in the courtyard of my tiny B&B. I cannot hear, and have not heard for some time, a single car. I can hear two distinct sounds: the gentle breeze through the tall manicured trees and the rush of the River Wharfe a quarter mile off. It’s near pitch black save for the illumination of my computer screen, the occasional cherry flare of my cigar, and the eerie night glow of the hill moors that surround this small valley. It is cool but not cold.

I’m tired but not overly exhausted. I went to sleep around 11pm last night and woke up about 4am and could not go back to sleep. Chalk it up to jet lag.

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My day started with a quick breakfast and a very short jaunt to the official start of the Dales Way. The initial leg of the Dales Way faithfully follows the banks of the River Wharfe. Apparently, the River Wharfe is prime fishing territory. There were fishing signs and expert anglers all along the river. It rained consistently during those four miles.

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The first noteworthy spot was an old church in Addingham, but for me, the village of Addingham was far more interesting. Hilly and snug, the small buildings, gardens and cobblestone creek bridges of Addingham conveyed a charm that my pictures did not justly capture. I stopped into a pub for some coffee and a quick half pint.

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Addingham

After Addingham, the sun appeared and blessed me with great weather for the rest of the walk. I visited the ruins of Bolton Abbey and braved a stepping stone crossing across the river (I’ll post the video when I have a better connection). The remaining landscape was dotted with ancient bridges, amazing river views, and serene pastures.

About a mile and a half before my B&B I stopped in the tiny village of Appletreewick to visit a pub I had read about. The Craven Arms is a lovingly maintained 16th-century cozy pub. There was a wedding party today but I managed to find a small quiet corner and try quite a few beers. After two hours of chatting with employees, locals, and tourists, I made my way (tipsy) to Burnsall and my quiet B&B. I had a good meal of sausage, mash, greens and more potatoes at the local pub.

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Gateway to the (D)Ales

It was a fantastic day of walking. Total mileage: 17 miles. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep (fingers crossed) and some renowned villages tomorrow.

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