The first leg of my walk follows the Dales Way, an 80-mile route starting in Ilkley, a pretty market town in West Yorkshire. Ilkley lies in Wharfedale, one of the dales of Yorkshire, but outside of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
From Ilkley, the Dales Way proceeds northwest along the River Wharfe into the Yorkshire Dales National Park, as far as the eastern watershed of the Pennine divide. The Pennines are a range of mountains running like a north/south spine through the center of Britain. The River Wharfe and all of the rivers sourced in this eastern watershed eventually flow into the North Sea.
|Ilkley Parish Church|
After reaching the watershed, the Dales Way leaves the Wharfe and flanks the northeast slope of Penyghent (the mountain peak I approached from the Pennine Way on Day 46 of My 1200 Mile Summer) and then briefly joins the Pennine Way, crosses the divide, and descends into Ribblehead in the western watershed of the Pennines. The River Ribble starts at Ribblehead and, like all the rivers in the western watershed of the Pennines, eventually flows into the Irish Sea.
Continuing northwest from Ribblehead, the Dales Way exits the Yorkshire Dales National Park and enters the southeast corner of the Lake District National Park. The Lake District is named for its many picturesque lakes created by all the rain wrung from the clouds floating in from the Irish Sea. The Lake District may be the wettest place on an island with a reputation for wetness.
The Dales Way ends at Lake Windermere, where I will conclude the first leg of my walk. Don’t worry, we’ll return to the Lake District to explore more of its lakes; but first we’ll head back into the Yorkshire Dales.
Refer to the map in the sidebar for visual detail on the route of the Dales Way as I mark the daily destinations over the next week. Much of myt route appears in Google's Streetview mode, so by activating the Streetview man and walking him along the route, you can see everything I see.