Frequently Asked Questions

Which direction would you recommend walking it in?

Wensleydale in winter

Wensleydale in winter

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.

Desolation above Gunnerside

Desolation above Gunnerside

What are the lowlights?

The barren wasteland above Gunnerside, created by the lead-mining industry of the 19th Century is not to everyone’s taste; likened to a moonscape it will be a long time before Mother Nature reclaims it.

What is it you love about this trail?

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?

Waterfalls at Aysgarth

Waterfalls at Aysgarth

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.

The good mix of strenuous sections and easy walking through lowlands, beside the wide River Ure make for an interesting walk, giving you a taste of the different kinds of walking available in Northern England.

What’s the accommodation and transport like generally?

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 requires planning.

If you only do one day-walk on the trail it should be…

If you like to walk high, then park in Keld and catch the bus to Reeth, walking back to your car over Melbecks Moor and down the wonderful Swinner Gill. If you prefer a low level walk then use the bus between Hawes and Askrigg to walk beside the Ure.

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

42 Responses

  1. Colin says:

    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

    • Stuart says:

      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!

  2. Sian says:

    Is this walk doable in only 2 days, whilst being able to actually enjoy it?

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  3. Libby Halsey says:

    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

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  4. Guillermo says:

    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!

  5. Kelly Grove-Hills says:

    Can I take a dog on this walk?

  6. Amanda Siswick says:

    Hello. Would it be possible to split the walk into 5 equal days of aprox 10 miles per day? Thank you.

  7. Ciaran says:

    What’s the closest train station to the route

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  8. dawn Mountford says:

    where do you park your car at aysgarth for the duration of the four day walk

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  9. 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!

    • Stuart says:

      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

  10. Pieter van Niekerk says:

    What will the expected weather be in September?

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  11. Rich Little says:

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

    • Stuart says:

      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

  12. Phil says:

    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

  13. Elise Lamar says:

    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.

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  14. mike says:

    Hi would this walk be possible in a straight 24hrs.

  15. sophie earle says:

    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.

    • Stuart says:

      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.

  16. Craig says:

    Best time of year to do the walk?

  17. David Lacey says:

    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

    • Stuart says:

      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!

  18. Caroline says:

    Can I take a dog on the Herriot Way?

    • Stuart says:

      The walk is all on public footpaths and bridleways so no restrictions on taking a dog. Not all accommodation providers will take dogs though.

  19. Carol says:

    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?

    • Stuart says:

      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

  20. How long would you say it took you to do the route of grinton to aysgarth?

    • Stuart says:

      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.

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