Walking the Herriot Way

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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.

If you’ve used the book and found it useful, please post a comment below and let others know what you thought of it.

38 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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!

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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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