Walking the Herriot Way

Personalised Covers

You can now order a copy of Walking the Herriot Way with a cover of your own choice. Use a photograph from the walk, or a favourite picture of a friend or loved one and create your very own unique copy of the Herriot Way guide book. The book contents are identical and could still be used to guide you along the route.  Click here to order.

Updated Third Edition

The Herriot Way is a 52 mile (84 km) long distance path that runs through some of the best scenery in the Yorkshire Dales; including the world famous Wensleydale and picturesque Swaledale.

Along its length walkers will visit beautiful valleys, high, open fells and rolling, heather-clad moorland. The route crosses one of the highest points in Yorkshire, visits historic monuments and passes through a barren industrial wilderness; laid bare through lead mining. Anyone walking the Herriot Way will have had a fantastic introduction to the Yorkshire Dales.

The walk is named after James Herriot; the fictional name given to the real-life veterinary surgeon who lived and worked in the Dales for many years. In life James Herriot was really Alf Wight and parts of this walk are first described in his book “James Herriot’s Yorkshire”, a coffee table book with stunning photographs by Derry Brabbs.

From that informal beginning as a short narration in a book, the walk was expanded and the route modified to include an extra days walking, by Norman Scholes, a devotee of the Yorkshire Dales. It is now a fairly well known long distance path, following established Rights of Way along its whole length, either footpaths or bridleways and these are nearly always signposted clearly.

The Walking the Herriot Way guide book provides a detailed, step-by-step route description and a series of hand-drawn, annotated maps, as well as a wealth of information to help plan the walk.

45 Responses

  1. Michelle says:

    A small group of us are thinking of walking the Herriots Way next week. Plan is to leave a car at Hawes and walk to Aysgarth (13 m) the same day. Following day walk to Keld and stay overnight (22) then complete the walk by returning to Hawes the next morning (17m??)Have we got the distances right? We are all reasonably fit and regular walkers.

    • Stuart says:

      Michelle – no not quite right – your second day is actually going to be 26 miles and your final day will be 13. The digital guide for the anti-clockwise route has a distance planner and can be downloaded immediately following payment, so still plenty of time to order that before you go. It includes the maps too. https://www.herriotway.com/buyme/

  2. Me and a friend who are relatively fit but have never done any multiple day walks with gear have just completed this walk in 4 days with ~12kg rucksacks….Amazing walk!. The first day is a nice flat starter along the river to get your body going, followed by the 2nd day up Shunner fell which we found tiring but perfectly fine. The 3rd day started with quite a steep climb which killed our legs early, leading to a longer lunch stop at Gunnerside gill before heading up another steepish climb onwards. The 4th day we found ok, although really just a moor walk which we found a little boring to finish on….. Theres only so much moorland you (we) can enjoy in one trip. All 3 nights were wildcamped in the villages, just setup out of town quite late on, had no bother at all from angry farmers with all locals being very friendly indeed.

  3. Christa says:

    I walked the route on my own this weekend over two days, starting and finishing in Hawes, with a stopover at Grinton Lodge YHA.

    Really enjoyed it and used only the maps (guidebook was in my bag but I managed with just the maps).

    Unfortunately I didn’t get to admire the scenery from Great Shunner Fell as the clag was well and truly down so I’ll have to use that as an excuse to go back another day.

    I’ve done quite a few long distance routes but so far I’d say this one has the best scenery and I’d definitely recommend it.

    • Stuart says:

      Christa, thanks for the feedback. I’ve been up Shunner many times and only had a view half the time. Grinton Lodge is a great place to stay, I used it on my first Herriot Way 🙂

  4. Kevin Duncombe says:

    My wife and I have just completed The Herriot Way using the Kindle book download and taking four days on the walk
    We started at Aysgarth. The directions and the attention to detail within was outstanding.
    Only had to look at OL30 once!
    The only part we struggled with was actually locating grouse butts 7 and 8 after High Harker Hill. They are very well hidden.
    Day 3 is also hard work if you take the high route through the lead mines from Keld to Reeth.
    We both thoroughly enjoyed the experience and are now planning our second LDW.
    My wife wants to know if you’ll do directions for every other trail?!!
    Thanks and well done on the guide.
    Kevin & Margaret Duncombe

    • Stuart says:

      Kevin & Margaret – really pleased you enjoyed the walk! If you want another circular walk in the Dales you could try my Tributaries Walk (www.tributarieswalk.co.uk) or if you fancy following the course of the River Swale from end to source then my Swale Way (www.swaleway.org.uk) will be out in a couple of months. The amount of detail I use does mean each book requires a lot of effort and maintenance, so I’ve not done many.
      All the best

  5. Marc Reed says:

    Will be doing this Walk with a Work colleague on Sunday the 8th January 2017.
    We are aiming for under 16 Hours and is a Warm up for the Dales Way 80 Miles we will be attempting in one go to Raise Money for a Work Colleague.

  6. Matthew says:

    The times in the book seem to be inconsistent between the maps at the back and the walk synopsis and the distances seem to be inconsistent between the synopsis and the itinerary planner. Which are correct?

    We were planning to do it over three days. Probably askrigg to thwaite to grinton. But I can’t work out if it’s a good split 😔.

    • Stuart says:

      Askrigg to Grinton is about 2.5 days from the full 4 day route, but it includes the two biggest days in terms of height gain, still should be easily doable in 3 days though.

  7. Sally-Jane says:

    I’m not very fit to be able to do the long distances each day. I can cope with 7-8 miles a day. Can it be split in to a 6/7 day walk with B&B’s? I think the problem will be Day 2 and Day 3. Was thinking about missing out Hawes and staying at Hardraw, then to Thwaite. But we’d need somewhere to stay between Keld and Reeth. But thinking the path is too high up on the fells for accommodation?

    • Stuart says:

      You have solved the Day 2 problem by doing Hardraw to Thwaite – that’s 8 miles, 4 miles up and 4 down 🙂 There is a low route (not described in the book) between Keld and Reeth, following the Swale and you could break your journey at Gunnerside. The route is described in the Trailblazer Coast to Coast guide book I think, it’s not the usual C2C route either, but lots of people use it, especially in bad weather to avoid the tops.

  8. Mark Bonnefin says:

    My friend and i decided to try the walk as a long distance challenge and managed it in 2 days. Although this defeats the object of seeing the fantastic scenery and taking in the breathtaking views, it is a great challeng Aysgarth to Twaite was a good 22 mile hike and Twaite to Aysgarth was both challenging and exciting. I will definately be back to the area and take my time (a few days at least) to enjoy Swaledale.

  9. Jude Jeeves says:

    Just wondered if anyone had done the walk in 3 days ?
    And wondered if so did you use campsites and do you have a recommendation for campsites for me ?

    • Stuart says:

      Jude – the walk is certainly doable in three days – providing you’re fit enough to do it in that time. You may need to wildcamp at least once in order to do it that way, as I don’t think the official campsites are positioned conveniently enough. Keld and Reeth both have great campsites and there are plenty of wildcamp options too. There is a section in the book that covers campsites and wildcamping.

  10. Claudine says:

    My husband and I will be in Yorkshire for Christmas and we are looking at a pre-Christmas walk challenge. We rather enjoy multi-day walk and are interested in doing the Herriot Way. Is it possible to do the walk in winter time? Thanks.

    • Stuart says:

      Claudine, it should be possible to walk the route in winter, but depends on the amount of snow that has fallen on the higher ground. The section between Aysgarth and Hawes is low level, so unlikely to be affected too badly by snow, but the path over Great Shunner Fell is high and open and could be difficult if there’s been a lot of snow. Other than that you should be fine. I’ve walked it several times in the winter, mostly I’ve just got wet 🙂

  11. Geoff Tondeur says:

    This walk is an ideal pre-season warm up for a regular long distance walker or in my case an ideal one if your other half isn’t as keen a walker as you are. My wife and I completed it last week and the scenery is truly stunning and the waterfalls, due to recent rain, were in full spate and spectacular. There are ideal lunch stops on all 4 days and plenty of other pubs/tea rooms along the way to keep the missus happy. Stayed at Cornlee guest house at the start, youth hostels at Hawes and Grinton and even a Yurt at Keld which was great. Took a OS map with me but didn’t really need it as guide book is so easy to follow and fits nicely into a jacket pocket. On day 3 we did take the low level route as described in the C2C guidebook as weather was a bit iffy and wanted to visit Muker and Gunnerside where tea and cake is plentiful.
    Many Thanks Stuart.

    • Stuart says:

      Thanks for the feedback Geoff – pleased to hear you and the missus enjoyed it – I’ve promised myself I will give the yurts a try sometime soon 🙂

  12. Pete Asher says:

    My wife and I have done the Herriot Way twice now, and enjoyed both equally. Your superb guide was invaluable , never went wrong and the information made the walks really interesting. Thanks for the hard work you have put into the guidebook, I can not compliment it highly enough. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

  13. Am tempted to hike the Herriot Way this year 🙂

  14. Janice Clapton says:

    I did the Herriot Way as my first solo walking trip and could not have done it without this excellent, invaluable book. Not one wrong turn, which for me is a miracle! Contemplating doing the longer Dales Way next. Stuart, have you a similar guide/route for the Dales Way?

    • Stuart says:

      Thanks for the excellent feedback Janice, I see you’ve found the Tributaries Walk (www.tributarieswalk.co.uk) which is my second guide book, describing a seven day walk around the Yorkshire Dales, following the rivers, streams and becks. Hope you enjoy it.

  15. Raymond says:

    I purchased the anticlockwise version of the book; it looked great on a tablet. I also got a wellthumbed backup copy from the kindest of hosts at Herriots Hotel in Hawes where I used their drop-off and pickup service to complete the walk.

    It was the end of July 2014. The weather was great: sunshine, dramatic clouds, a few drops of rain one afternoon. The walk was unsurpassable. I promise you I could not have done it without the book. You read ahead 3 or four next stages, then stuff the book in your pocket and forge ahead with confidence, fully trusting the guide, enjoying the scenery, taking pictures of a bird or rock or sheep or barn or grand vista… Until you need to get your bearings again. A rare experience.

  16. Libby says:

    Hi Stuart, Do you happen to have a link to an anti clockwise route? I cant find it on the herriot in hawes website? Thank you

  17. Karl says:

    Hope you don’t mind Stuart, but I’ve put the GPS routes up onto http://www.outdoorsgps.com as downloadable routes for their apps. We’re doing the walk the week after next and it seemed to be the easiest way of getting the route onto my phone.

    Great book, by the way!

  18. Bob dixon says:

    Hi Stuart
    I bought your book last year but have still to do the walk.I was interested in what you say about IPads as I have now bought the mini.Do I need to purchase something else off you to put it on the iPad .Also I was thinking about using it as a GPS I believe you can buy the attachment from companies like Bad Elf then download a mapping programme.Not that I would have a clue how to do it.

    • Stuart says:


      The PDF files that I sent will work on an iPad or any other mobile device. You need to look at the relevant instructions manual / Google it to find out how to load them on to it.

      The device will probably also provide GPS functionality, but like you said you will need a third party app to view maps on. Something like ViewRanger or RouteBuddy will do this for you. Both these products have iOS apps that will work on iPad / iPhone etc.

      Hope that helps

  19. Noel Thomas says:

    This book gave me the confidence to do my first multi day walk, it was so detailed i did’nt use
    my maps at all. Just bought the second book By Stuart The Tributaries Walk, hoping to do it in October.

  20. Chris says:

    This book is fantastic and is a’ must have’ for this walk. The book was so easy to follow, keeping us on the right path. While I have no doubt we would have got between the four main points, your book took us along some paths that I don’t think we would have found. At times it felt you were the 5th member of our team!
    For anyone thinking of doing the Herriot way – take this book!
    Many thanks, Chris

  21. Martha Higgins says:

    Stuart, your book is just fabulous!
    I found it so detailed and with the maps I always felt confident and safe on the Herriot way, especially around those grouse butts where it can be really hard to see any path. I look forward to using it again another time.
    Well done.

  22. Emma says:

    We found the route description in particular really accurate, detailed and helpful. It would be really hard to get lost with it! The narrative also had some really interesting information about the area we were walking through.

  23. Maren says:

    I have to pay you a big compliment for your nice book. There’s a lot of work standing behind it and it shows from every page how much you care about the Herriot Way.

  24. Gerard says:

    Your book is so incredibly detailed, down to the last blade of grass and yet with the maps, you get a complete overview of the walk and only need to look at the text intermittently.

  25. Susan says:

    I wanted to say how good we found the book – it really is excellent. The accompanying maps are great and ensured we found our way through the grouse butts on Greets Hill! I cannot speak highly enough of your book. The narrative was excellent with many hidden gems of ‘inside information’. The attention to detail made it an invaluable guide

    Thank you!

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