22 August 2010

Six Dales Trail - Introduction

The Six Dales Trail was launched in June 2010 as a 38 mile walk from the centre of Otley to the village of Middleham in Wensleydale.  The queen of Marmite herself, Janet Street Porter, officially opened the route through the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on 26th June.

The path winds its way from Wharfedale, into the Washburn valley, then makes it's way through Nidderdale, Colsterdale, and Coverdale before finishing in Wensleydale.  All in a very pleasant walk that can be split up into a nice series of short-ish routes. 

What with today being such a lovely day, I thought I'd give the first 10 miles of the route a go.  So fire up the laptop, bash "Six Dales Trail" into Google and boom, there's the official website.  "Great stuff" I thought, so where's the route map?  Hmm, nope, nope, nope, "What's this? Six Dales Trail Book? ... £5.99 plus shipping and handling?" And that's the only way to see the route? That's just not on...

Apart from the whole "Because it's there" attitude I have to walking and hiking, I like to think it should follow three simple, yet stupidly important, principles: 1) be fun, 2) be accessible to all, and 3) be free.  Okay so a good Ordnance Survey map costs between £7 and £12 and then you'll want some boots if you're going to get into it, but seriously, charging people to see where your path goes?  You might as well just say that stepping outside is a kind of members-only club for privileged toffs.

Not to be put off by £5.99, not because I'm cheap you understand, but because, dammit, here in the North of England we're amazingly lucky to be surrounded by some of the most fabulous countryside in the world and it's free.  Nobody has the right to make a quick few quid from what's on your doorstep, or turn it into a bigger version of the National Trust (but that's a rant for another day). So I did a bit of digging and with the aid of some downright shoddy images and lousy press-release type maps worked out where the route went - success! Well, no, to put it bluntly...

You see my other principle for walking is to make it fun and, call me old-fashioned but, what's a good day out in the great-outdoors without a cosy drinking establishment for a great lunch or a bit of liquid refreshment?  Amazingly the Six Dales Trail from Otley to Blubberhouses goes out of it's way to miss every pub en-route - you'd think the path was planned by Mormons (I've nothing against Mormons, their free literature has a multitude of fine uses including, but not limited to, wedges, free-weights and firelighters...).

Didn't take too much doing to adjust the route slightly to include the fun element and avoid some of the seemingly pointless parts of the original route, leaving me with ... Fell Faller's Six Ales Trail - All the views and beauty of the original trail with the naffer bits cut out and some good rest-stops inserted. Oh, and think of "a pint per dale" as a guideline, rather than a hard and fast rule ... I had two.

I'll write up today's route itself tomorrow as I'm dog tired now, but here's an image from earlier this afternoon, who said outside is boring?


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