Frequently Asked Questions

Which direction would you recommend walking it in?​

The Herriot Way guide book is available in either clockwise or anti-clockwise directions. Baggage transfer providers typically work in a clockwise direction and some B&Bs provide a pick-up and drop-off service that may restrict the direction you take

What are the highlights?​

There is something to delight all walkers on the Herriot Way. If you love walking beside rivers there is the wonderful section beside the River Ure in Wensleydale. If high remote hills are your idea of heaven then the ascent of Great Shunner Fell will be your highlight. Lovers of grouse-filled, heather moorland will revel in the crossing of Melbecks and Harkerside Moors.

Lower Force at Aysgarth falls
Lead mining spoil heaps above Gunnerside

What is it you love about this walk?​

The diversity of the scenery encountered along the relatively short 52 miles of the Herriot Way are what set it apart from the other long walks in the UK. The feeling of remoteness while still being within easy reach of civilisation every day and the mix of easy strolling through the dales and the strenuous ascent of Great Shunner Fell make it a perfect candidate for your first long distance walk.

Any history or background worth mentioning?​

Walkers will visit a diverse array of remains from the Lead Mining industry that was prevalent through this area of the Dales for many years. Subtle information boards provide an insight into how hundreds of miners lived and worked in this desolate environment, changing and shaping it forever.

How challenging is it?​

The Herriot Way is the perfect walk for a first-time long distance walker, or for an experienced walker looking for a leg-stretcher. The 52 miles are broken into four approximately equal 13 mile days, each one ending in villages with plentiful local amenities.

What’s the accommodation and transport like?​

Accommodation is plentiful at the end of each of the 13 mile section and some days have villages perfectly positioned for a pub lunch. The route could be wild-camped or make use of camp sites along the way. Some sections are supported by local bus services but the nearest train station is about 15 miles from the route, so getting to the start by public transport requires planning.

Wensleydale in winter

Want to ask a question? Use the comment field below to submit it to the author!

77 Replies to “Frequently Asked Questions”

  1. Good morning. My husband and I are planning to walk the Herriot Way in April/May 2020. We live abroad and so would be flying in to a northern airport then using either public transport or hiring a car to our start point. Public transport looks doable but tortuous! Is there safe parking at any of the start points? (I assume as it is a circular walk it doesn’t matter too much where we start and finish?) Or any sugestions on the best way to use public transport? We are retired so have no fixed timetable (ie, we can please ourselves to a large extent!) Thank you

    1. Marie, I would agree that public transport into the heart of the Dales can be a bit hard going, especially if your visit happens to coincide with the Easter public holidays, so hiring a car would be the easiest option in terms of getting there. There are a couple of places that will let you park your car if you stay there, and I can heartily recommend Butt House in Keld (https://www.butthousekeld.co.uk/). Jacqui and Chris will let you park for the duration of your walk, in their gated car park, provided you stay with them at the start or end (or both) and believe me you will not regret staying with them! Hope that helps, Stuart.

    1. Graham, based on what I saw on TV news this morning, the path between Reeth and Grinton was under about 4 feet of water. The tops of the fence posts were just about visible. The road route didn’t look much better with no cars being able to get through.

      I imagine the water level will recede quite quickly though. The widely posted image of the bridge that was washed away was further out of Grinton and does not affect the Herriot Way route, although it will have a huge effect on the locals, as will all the other flood damage.

      See my reply to Ken’s comment below about getting more local information.

      1. Thanks Stuart. We are not planning to do it until the end of September, so hopefully things will have settled down by then

  2. Hello Stuart. We have just seen the tv reports of flooding and destroyed bridges in the area and are walking Herriot Way 5-12 August when even more rain is forecast!

    Do you think it is still “doable” and would you recommend any deviations. Also we are planning to from Thwaite to Grinton along the Swale Way – is this a good route to take with these conditions?

    Thank you

    Ken

    1. This is a really difficult question to answer. There is certainly a lot of disruption to the roads local to the Herriot Way and this may make it difficult to get to the start of the walk, but not impossible, from what I can see on the local news and social media.

      In terms of the path, that may also be impacted particularly on the Aysgarth to Hawes section which runs close to the Ure for most of the day. However, the water will recede quite quickly I imagine, so that path may be passable, if muddy by the time you walk.

      You will need to check closer to the time. Speak to your accommodation providers for more localised guidance, or the tourist information points in Reeth and the National Park centres in Hawes and Aysgarth.

      I would always recommend the high route above Swaledale from Keld to Reeth, but especially at the moment which will avoid any trouble beside the Swale. If you’re thinking of the Swale Way route, that runs right beside the river for parts and may be affected.

  3. Hi there, my husband and I are planning the Herriot way easter 2020. Is it weatherwise possible and can we do it in 3 stages? We both are hikers so hikes of 8-9 hours are no problem for us. Many thanks!

    1. Hi Annick, that sounds fine. Easter next year is the second weekend in April and there will be plenty of daylight hours to complete each day’s walking. Weather is impossible to predict, but unless there’s heavy snow or floods you should be fine. The 3 day option is possible with 2 long legs of about 20 miles each and a shorter 12 mile one. The book has details. If you want to wait for a couple of months, the new fourth edition will have details of a low route between Keld and Reeth and you can use that to make three approximately equal stages.

      1. Hi Stuart, many thanks for this reply! Yes, I would like to wait for the new edition. Are you going to inform us through mail or do we check this website regulary? Greetings from Antwerp!

  4. I want to thank the organisers of this beautiful route I have completed today. I started yesterday from Hawes leaving my car at the National Park Centre, doing Hawes to Grinton and then back to Hawes going clockwise. I have particularity enjoyed the first section to Keld and the one around Aysgarth. I am used to cover many miles and this time I only had 2 available days; still, it’s such an enjoyable walk that I’d have loved taking it easier to enjoy it even more. I will return (hopefully with one of my daughters) maybe going anticlockwise or trying the lower section from Keld to Reeth. Best regards, Giovanni from Harrogate

  5. hi i am planning to do this walk in April, and was hoping to wild camp for most of it. is it easy to for two small tents ? and the campsites, do you have to book in advance?

    1. You don’t need to book campsites ahead, unless you’re walking over Easter (19-22 Apr) in which case it might be worth it. Wild camping isn’t easy on some sections, especially between Aysgarth and Hawes, but I have wild camped the whole route; just be prepared to pitch late and leave early.

  6. Hi, looks a fantastic walk. How would you suggest splitting it into three days? and do you know any dog friendly b and b’s on route. Many thanks

    1. I can’t recommend any dog-friendly B&Bs, not really something I’ve ever needed. However, if you book your holiday through a company like Brigantes (see links page) they can sort that for you.

      It’s not possible to split into three equal days, due to the way the accommodation falls along the route, so you are going to end up with a couple of long days and a short(ish) one. Plan to start in Reeth/Grinton and walk to Askrigg – then on the second day walk to Keld. That leaves the final third day as the regular Keld to Reeth/Grinton leg.

    2. Hi Emma.
      I shall be walking the Herriot way with my dog for the fourth time this summer, its a fantastic walk. Some of the dog friendly hotel’s (although normally at a supplement) that I have used and enjoyed are listed below.
      Hawes:
      The Crown (due to reopen February 2019)
      The Bulls head B & B
      The Fountain

      Keld:
      I’ve only ever used the Keld Lodge, can’t recommend it highly enough, very friendly management & staff and are really well set up for walkers. Always busy with walkers and dogs so book early, I would recommend checking availability here before booking anything else as it fills very quickly and I’ve had to change my plans a number of times.

      Reeth:
      I have only used the Bridge at Grinton which is 1 mile past Reeth. The rooms are OK, bit dated but clean. Excellent food, dog friendly, very cosy bar.

      Aysgarth:
      The Wheatsheaf at Carperby (1 mile before Aysgarth on the clockwise walk) is excellent. And when experiencing all things Herriot, the Wheatsheaf was where James Herriot spent his honeymoon.

      Hope all this helps, enjoy the walk

  7. I’m thinking about doing the herriot way in march. Usually is there any snow on the trail in this time? Would you advise against going at this time because of snow? Thanks a lot.

    1. There’s no way to predict whether there will be snow on the ground in March, the weather at that time of the year is so unpredictable. There is a small chance that snow, especially on the high ground may make conditions difficult, but mostly likely it will just be wet and grey rather than deep snow. Hope that helps.

  8. Hi
    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.

    1. 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/

  9. Hi Stuart, would you by any chance know why The Way ignores Leyburn, yet includes Hawes? It seems a little strange that one is never mentioned in Herriots Yorkshire, yet Leyburn obviously had fond memories but is absent from the trail!! Cheers Colin

    1. Hi Colin, the walk was originally based on a short description of a walk he took with his son, rather than a walk that explores the places mentioned in his books or where he worked. That’s probably another walk that could be considered though!

    1. If you enjoy back to back 26 mile walks then sure, I know other people have done it like that and the position of services along the route allow for it.

  10. Hi Stuart.
    Do you happen to know whether there is still a shop in Keld? Your guide book suggests that there is but the village website says not. Maybe it has closed down since you wrote the book? We are walking the Herriot Way at the end of May/start of June.
    Thanks from Libby

    1. Hi Libby, yes the shop is open – it’s a summer only operation now though I think, and don’t expect too much from it – basic supplies only.
      If you’re staying in Keld but not at Keld Lodge it’s worth booking a table now if you want to eat there in the evening.
      Stuart

  11. Hi Stuart! My name is Guillermo, I’m from Argentina. This is my first time in the Dales.. I’ll be in the Dales in 14th May, to walk the Herriot Way. Do you know if there is any camping in Aysgarth? I’m a single man, only me and my tent :). Thank you very much!

    1. Ciaran, the book includes a whole section on “Getting To and From” the walk, including car, train and bus options. The nearest station is Garsdale, on the Settle Carlisle line.

    1. Dawn, the book includes a whole section on “Getting To and From” the walk, including car parking options around the route. There is some limited parking in Aysgarth and if you book a B&B there either before or after your walk they will be able to help.

  12. Hello, the only other long distance walk I have done is the WHW last year. I’m planning to do this last week in April with my two cocker spaniels.

    In terms of finding the route, the WHW was so well marked and the book so good you really couldn’t get lost.

    What level of map reading skills will I need for this walk?

    I am an older female walker walking alone so suffering from a few nerves!

    1. Unlike the WHW, the Herriot Way isn’t signed at all, but the book has meticulous written instructions and annotated maps and all the feedback I’ve had suggests no-one has had any trouble finding their way. You won’t be hacking across pathless moorland so you can probably manage the walk without a compass. You won’t meet as many people on the path as you did on the WHW either. Hope that helps

    1. Pieter – this is England, it’s impossible to predict what the weather will be like, I’m afraid. I’ve had wonderful warm days in September and then I’ve had snow too! The book does cover the average rainfall, sunshine and temperature for the region, so that may help you decide.

  13. 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 😔.

    1. 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.

  14. hi – I would like to walk it in 24 hours as a charity challenge – how suitable are the paths for night time walking / navigation

    1. I would try and time it so that you are on the southern part of the walk at night, between Aysgarth and Hardraw, you are at least always within a short walk of the road and safety then. Good luck

  15. 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?

    1. 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.

  16. Just finished walking the herriots way in two days but we ended walking miles on busy roads is this the normal way to walk the james herriot way thank you

  17. How advisable do you think it is to do this walk alone (solo female). Any feedback from others who have done this? Have done Cotswolds Way with others but think I would be comfortable on that one, just for comparison.

    1. Elise – I’m asked this quite a lot, not just about the Herriot Way and I will say what I say to all solo female walkers in the UK – you’re as safe walking in the hills as anyone, provided you know how to navigate and you take the usual precautions in terms of avoidance of risk (i.e. don’t walk off a cliff). I presume part of your question also relates to personal safety and I would say the same thing, in fact you are probably safer walking alone in the hills than you are in the towns cities. Although they’re not a common sight, I’ve seen plenty of solo female walkers and backpackers in the hills and on the Herriot Way – I hope you enjoy the walk.

  18. Hi,
    My friend and I are fairly experienced walkers. Regularly doing 20 mile walks a day comfortably. Will this be doable in 2 days? Given its terrain etc. Many thanks.

    1. It would be similar to doing back-to-back Yorkshire Three Peaks walks – similar distance, slightly lower height gain. The terrain won’t be a factor I don’t think, just the distances.

  19. 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 ?

    1. 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.

  20. We are a group of about 10. We wish to camp. Are there campsites at the ends of each days walking? Also what are the rules/restrictions on wild camping

    1. David, there are campsites for tents in (or just outside within walking distance) Aysgarth, Hawes, Hardraw, Keld and Reeth. Wild camping is essentially illegal without the landowners permission, but is accepted / tolerated if done without leaving any trace and typically on the hill tops rather than in the valleys. You will struggle to find anywhere suitable to support 10 tents though, unless you manage to track down a farmer and request permission. The exception would be the summit of Great Shunner where there is plenty of space, but it’s exposed!

  21. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  22. We have only 3 days to walk but would like to sample part of the walk. Where would could we base ourselves so that we could go out for days? We will only have one car. Is there any public transport?

    1. Carol – There’s a bus service between Keld and Reeth which should enable you to walk that section, depending on the times of the buses you may have to walk it backwards I guess? There’s also a bus between Hawes and Castle Bolton which will allow you walk that section too. You could do Great Shunner Fell as an ‘out and back’ walk from either Thwaite or Hawes, which is your three days. The book has more details on buses and car parking options. Of course it also has the maps and route directions you’d need for these sections.
      Hope that helps
      Stuart

    1. Courteney – that’s a very subjective question, as the answer is ‘it depends how fast you walk’, but that section is about 13 miles, it gains a reasonable amount of height and I would allow 7 hours to walk it. You may well do it in much less and if it’s a particularly nice day you may want to stop often, so it could take longer.

  23. 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

    1. Libby, you can purchase an anti clockwise Edition of the guide book from the shop on this site.
      http://www.herriotway.com/buyme/

      Just scroll down the page until you reach the anti clockwise section.
      The book comes in three PDF files, which you can print out easily.
      If you need anything else, just reply to this comment.

  24. 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.

    The routes are on
    http://www.outdoorsgps.com/route/show/285604_herriot-way-aysgarth-to-hawes
    http://www.outdoorsgps.com/route/show/285610_herriot-way-hawes-to-keld
    http://www.outdoorsgps.com/route/show/285611_herriot-way-keld-to-grinton
    http://www.outdoorsgps.com/route/show/285612_herriot-way-grinton-to-aysgarth

    Great book, by the way!

  25. 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.
    Bob

    1. Bob

      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
      Stuart

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