The Herriot Way is a circular walk, so you could walk it in either direction. However, the guide book describes the walk in a clockwise direction, following the path of the original walk by James Herriot. This is also the direction supported by the walking holiday providers and baggage transfer services.
So few people walked the anti-clockwise route that it became impractical to continue supporting it. Rather than continue to provide route notes and maps that have not been updated for several years, the decision has been made to drop support for an anti-clockwise guide.
If the weather is fine use the traditional high route through Swinner Gill and lead mining remains above Gunnerside. In bad weather you may want to use the low route, beside the Swale. You could do both of course, making for a 5-day walk, and the book has instructions on how you can extend your walk to accomplish this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 8 miles from the route, so getting to the start by public transport requires planning.