Walking through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales was, to me, the most memorable and beautiful section along The Pennine Way.
The Dales Way, although popular, cuts across the Dales starting in Ilkley and ending in the Lake District at Bowness on Windermere. This made little sense to me as a journey. The Yorkshire Dales Centurion Walk was going to be the perfect Dales experience and encompass the whole of the Dales.
A flexible, 100-mile circular adventure and one you plan yourself as a personalised journey – that was my original idea when I first did the walk in 1973. By 1980 about 10,000 of my guide books had been sold from one outlet where hundreds of walkers had signed the Log Book – the famous Pen-y-ghent Cafe.
Amongst the successful signatories in the ‘Book’ were already such names as footballs’ Brian Clough OBE and Everest’s Lord John Hunt – it was fast becoming a classic long distance walk.
Today the Dales is still as magical, inspirational and fragile an area, still protected by the National Park. Access to certain sensitive areas is a privilege thanks to the kindness of local private landowners. Whilst walking and exploring please attempt to stick to public rights of way to minimise access anxieties. Always be respectful to local people – only leave footprints and take only memories of your journey. The Dales identity is uniquely forged by its strong rural communities – their quaint hamlets add to the overall experience where typical Dale’s hospitality will be appreciated.
The Yorkshire Dales Centurion Walk encircles the Dales and visits almost every major peak but more importantly affords the visitor views of every valley or ‘dale’. It is a long-distance circular walk of at least one hundred miles in length and will take the average walker roughly a week, or perhaps four weekends to complete. The Centurion was an adventure designed so that you can plan your own exploration within its flexible framework. You can choose to explore and add on sections that interest you. The Centurion visits historic villages like the cobbled centre of Dent and samples many welcoming hostelries such as the Tan Hill Inn the highest Inn in Great Britain * see ‘Highest Inns Challenge Walk’
This walk is for competent walkers and not those who are inexperienced – certain sections can be serious, bleak and remote, requiring good judgement and experience of navigating in bad weather. It is not a signposted walk and walkers attempting it should be equipped to survive overnight if caught out. Flexibility is the key and you should have alternative plans ready to counter any possible emergency. A plan it yourself format ensures it is self controlling – only those capable and sufficiently skilled will embark on this challenging walk.
Celebrate your achievement at the Pen-y-ghent Cafe – the old ‘Pint Pot Cafe’ with a hot pint of tea or similar! Badges can be purchased here and remember to sign the Log Book.
The Classic Centurion Walk now includes a flexible route description and outlines some alternative options such as Gaping Gill and Malham Cove *see ‘The Limestone Lion Walk’.