Dales Way Wrap Up

What a fantastic trip. The weather was phenomenal and the people were even better. The trail was varied and interesting. The pubs were superb. All around a great success.

Like I summarized for the Cotswolds Way, here are some stats:

  • Days Walked: 6
  • Miles Traversed: 100 on the dot, start to finish
  • Days with Rain: about 30 minutes on the first day
  • Pubs visited: 23
  • Pints of real ale consumed: 42
  • Varieties of real ale consumed: 41
  • Pint of real ale returned: 3 (all exchanged free of charge)
  • Cigars smoked: 1
  • Ounces of medicinally applied whiskey: 1
  • Friends made: 3
  • Foot Issues: Not a single blister

I found myself wondering whether I preferred the Dales Way to the Cotswolds Way. The trails were definitely different. And there’s no doubt that the Dales Way was less physically demanding (that’s not to say it was a cake walk). In terms of overall experience, on the Dales Way I talked to a lot more people, which is a huge bonus. The north has a rawness that the pampered Cotswolds can’t match. People live in the Dales where it seemed that wealthy people vacationed in the Cotswolds. I did find myself missing forest trails on the Dales but between walking through a forest for 5 hours and no forest, I would choose no forest.

I’ve decided I don’t need to choose a favorite. I loved them both.

A strange coincidence occurred as I was bus hopping through some Lake District villages today. It seemed a very sweet and apropos way to finish this trip. When I first posted about my Dales Way trip, I linked to a poem by William Wordsworth entitled “Daffodils.” It’s a bit sappy, but Wordsworth keenly expressed the intimate connection I feel with these walks.

Wordsworth was an English poet who was among the first to popularize the  walking tour, and, this poem was perhaps his most popular on the subject. It begins:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
I don’t have any special love for daffodils but I completely relate to Wordsworth’s walking experience. Walking alone and coming upon a beautiful scene, I often excitedly mutter to myself “you’ve got to be kidding!!” Some of these places defy explanation. There’s a magic here. It’s the ancient but tamed nature. The continuation of old traditions. The mystery of structures built by people who did not record history. These things grab me like a field of fluttering daffodils grabbed Wordsworth.
After a few more stanzas proclaiming the virtues of daffodils, Wordsworth finishes his poem thusly:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

And there it is. This is the true value of why I walk out here. It’s soul medicine and its effects are long lasting. Years from now, I will be gray and grumpy and a memory of a place or experience from the Dales Way will pop into my head, and I will be happy for a moment. Speeding on a ridiculous bicycle down to Dent or being mesmerized by a riverside village. I’ll relive the feeling of magic. These memories are with me for the rest of me. They are mine in my solitude. And they are good.

As I strolled with a vacant mind through Grasmere today, I unexpectedly stumbled onto Wordsworth gravesite and was confronted with this:

Not gonna lie, I teared up a little. I don’t know why. But I do know it was a very poetic end to a wonderful trip.

Until next time…

4 thoughts on “Dales Way Wrap Up

  1. Hey Kevin. what can I say you captured it beautilly.Obviously your future lies in the production of long distance walking promos.A series of short pearls would be snapped up in a commercial sense by any number of tourist groups or entertainment enterties.A commercial production of this quality would be many times cost basic than that achieved in your production.Can l come along as your your advisor?I would be approaching someone like Sherpa for comment.Well done …… Bobby Young

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Arizona Kevin! It was a pleasure and a privilege to eat, walk and talk with you. Really enjoyed the blog – think we had more rain than you!
    Also thank you for your perspective – you made us look at all the things we take for granted (trees, running rivers, green grass, 12th century churches) with a keener and more appreciative eye.
    Safe home, and let us know when you’re coming over again.
    Eve Milner

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was great meeting you both too, Eve. I hope both you and Michel de le Montagne have a great time at your son’s wedding and succeeding adventures through the states. Hopefully, you will encounter a friendly bear.

      Liked by 1 person

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