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 cloudThat 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.
For oft, when on my couch I lieIn vacant or in pensive mood,They flash upon that inward eyeWhich 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.
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…