Dales Way by Colin Speakman. REVIEWS
WALK - magazine of the Ramblers,
Author: Colin Speakman
ISBN number: 978 0 95599877 5
Remarkably this is now the 11th edition of Colin Speakman’s original
guide to one of northern England’s most attractive and enduringly popular
trails. From Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere, the 80-mile Dales Way traces
the length of Wharfedale and Dentdale and fully refreshed this guidebook is
peppered with colour photos, excellent maps and an interesting and reliable
text. Colin founded the Dales Way in the late 1960s and with new links to
Leeds, Harrogate and Bradford the trail is better than ever.
- See the Ramblers website here.
Yorkshire Post, Saturday February 26
RURAL AFFAIRS, Country Week
A colourful way to follow in the steps of a Dales' classic
The original guidebook to one of Britain's most popular long-distance
walks is being republished. Roger Ratcliffe obtained an advance copy.
art of walking books has come a long way in the last decade.
My own guide to the Yorkshire Wolds Way, first published in 1982, was a
pretty plain affair compared with the updated modern edition with its superior
maps, photos and vignettes of special route features.
And now one of the best of the entire walking guide genre, The Dales Way, has
metamorphosed into a colourful handbook.
Today's walkers demand less of a continuous narrative to a footpath, with
precise stile-by-stile directions. Instead, they prefer a guide with information
and graphics that leap off the page. They want something that not only helps
them find a faint path over a barren hillside but also a book they can enjoy
reading at home before setting off or while soaking in a bath at the b & b
after a long day's hike.
Colin Speakman's first crack at writing a guide to the 78-mile long-distance
walk, from Ilkley in Wharfedale to Bowness-on-Windermere, resulted in one of the
old-style books when published by The Dalesman in 1970.
Printing costs then were high, and profit margins small. Full-colour maps
were out of the question and attractive page designs would have made the book a
luxury item which people would have been loath to take out in the mud and
The exception to this, of course, was the series of pictorial guides produced
by Alfred Wainwright, but lesser mortals had their walking guides typeset
commercially and printed as slabs of text broken up with the odd black and white
However, the desktop publishing technology which first appeared in the late
1980s has changed all that, making it both technically and economically possible
to produce beautiful books.
And Colin Speakman's new Dales Way guidebook certainly fits that description.
Maps, photos and sketches abound, with very few of its 112 pages looking
The original Dalesman book went through nine different editions,
mainly to update minor route changes, but the style of the book hardly
The last one appeared on 2002, and since then the publishers had made it
clear they were unlikely to bring out a new edition.
The Dales Way makeover is the work of new Yorkshire walking guide publishers
Skyware, run from Saltaire by the husband-and-wife team of Tony and Chris
Grogan, but the book is very firmly rooted in Colin's original.
Cleverly, the route is described both in the text and in map annotations,
reducing the chances of walkers wandering off the path.
And there are pen portraits of towns and villages and small articles on
historical features encountered along the way. A nice touch is the reproduction
of the route-at-a-glance graphic from the original 1970 edition.
Since few people know more about the Dales than Colin, being the author of 50
walking books on the area and current chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society,
it is hard to imagine a more informed guidebook to the walk.
He was also, of course, the route's principal creator - one of a small and
illustrious group who will always be associated with a long-distance path.
Wainwright (the Coast to Coast) and Tom Stephenson (the Pennine Way) are fellow
In 1968, the Countryside Act gave local councils new powers to create public
access on riversides, and Colin, then a leading figure in the West Riding Area
of the Ramblers Association, and fellow walker Tom Wilcock, had the idea for a
route that would follow the River Wharfe from Ilkley right up to its source on
But the boggy wastelands high on the east-west watershed seemed like an
anti-climax to such a fine walk.
So it was decided to continue the route down into Dentdale and, having got as
far as Sedbergh, take it further west to a dramatic conclusion on the shore of
There was a pioneering walk of the basic route by some venture scouts from
Bradford Grammar School in 1969, after which Colin and his wife, Fleur, did the
first detailed survey of the footpath that tens of thousands of walkers know
That summer, still lacking official blessing form the Government's
Countryside Commission and with 10 per cent of the route not on existing rights
of way, the Ramblers Association nevertheless launched the Dales Way with a
public walk between Ilkley and Bolton Abbey.
Urgent amendments soon became obvious, particularly on the first leg of the
route between Addingham and Bolton Bridge, where a field path was negotiated to
take walkers off a busy stretch of the B6160.
Later, another stretch of tarmac was bypassed with the creation of a new
section in Dentdale, and there are hopes that yet one more minor amendment will
be made there by offering walkers an alternative route along the new Pennine
Extensions have also been added to it, notably from Woodhouse Moor, in Leeds,
and another from Bradford.
In his introduction to the new edition, Colin writes: "Unique among UK
long-distance paths, it leads from the centre of two major cities into two
national parks, by continuous waymarked footpath." The Dales Way is, he
says, truly "The People's Path".
- Dales Way by Colin Speakman is published on March 1 by Skyware,
£9.99. It is available at bookshops or can be purchased post free from www.skyware.co.uk
- Roger Ratcliffe is author of the Yorkshire Wolds Way published by
Aurum Press, £12.99.
See The Yorkshire Post website here.
Bradford T&A, Saturday 5 March 2011
Striding out stylishly
Colin Speakman - Dales Way
(Skyware Ltd. £9.99)
by Emma Clayton.
In 1970, Colin Speakman wrote the first guide to the Dales Way.
More than 40 years later, his original book is in its tenth
This beautifully-written publication has a new look.
Illustrated with more than 40 colour photographs to match Speakman's
compelling, affectionate narrative, it features, for the first time, detailed
colour strip maps of the entire route.
Other new features include a brief history of "the People's Path",
an alternative route between Cam Fell and Upper Dentdale, and detailed
descriptions of the three link routes from Bradford, Harrogate and Leeds.
* Colin Speakman will be signing copies of the book when it is launched at
the Riverside Hotel, Ilkley, on Wednesday, March 30.
See the Bradford T&A
Ilkley Gazette & Observer, Thursday, 10 March
Revisiting scenic Dales route after four decades of change
Amanda Greaves talks to the man who formed the 'People's Path' and
finds out why he's back on the trail he first walked in 1968.
Over the course of 40 years, the Dales Way has gone from a little-known route
marked on a map to being one of the major draws to some of Yorkshire’s finest
Where isolated communities were once seldom visited by hikers, there is now a
rural economy thriving on the many long-distance walkers and visitors brought in
by the footpath’s fame.
Decades after he first trod the Way, Ilkley man Colin Speakman has paid a
fresh visit to the walking route he immortalised in print, with the tenth
edition of his guide book to the Dales Way.
The Ilkley to Windermere route of around 80 miles is extended to major
centres of population in Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate, by means of link routes.
Yorkshire Dales Society chairman, Mr Speakman, 69, was keen to include all
link routes to the walk, an alternative route to a section of the Way, and a
brief history of the “People’s Path” in the latest edition of his book.
Coincidentally, in keeping with today’s Big Society aims, the Dales Way was
conceived and promoted primarily by individuals and ramblers’ groups. The help
of local authorities and the two major National Parks authorities came later.
“Feet form paths, not planners,” said Mr Speakman.
The seeds of the new path were sown when the 1968 Countryside Act gave local
authorities the chance to give access to riverside paths.
Mr Speakman, and West Riding Ramblers colleague Tom Wilcock, chose the River
Wharfe for the creation of a new riverside walking route.
But when they got to the upper reaches of the Wharfe, they found there was no
natural conclusion to the route – and decided to take it further.
They continued their work over the Ribblehead watershed into neighbouring
valleys, and eventually decided the most logical end to the walk lay at Bowness-on-Windermere,
on the shores of England’s largest natural lake.
There had been formal plans by the authorities to create a Pennine path
around this time, but those behind this initiative instead waited to see how the
Dales Way would turn out.
Unlike the more hilly long-distance walking routes, the Dales Way is regarded
as less strenuous.
Mr Speakman and his wife, Fleur, set out to survey the entire route for the
first time in 1968.
Tourist accommodation and information was decidedly scarce in those days, as
the couple found in one village they stopped at.
Mr Speakman said: “We had to go to the police station, and the policeman
said ‘I think Mrs Robinson takes people in’. At one time, there were hardly
any places to stay.”
Today, he says, walkers can expect a warm welcome with many places to stay
along the route, plus the benefits of better footpaths with signs pointing the
way, thanks to local authorities and national parks.
The rural landscape and economy has also changed over the years since the
Dales Way was born.
The growth of unnatural forests were a concern in the early days, says Mr
Speakman, but these have been felled, and a lot more native trees have since
been planted, making a more leafy landscape for walkers.
Mr Speakman’s first guide to the walk, The Dales Way – Ilkley to
Windermere by Riverside Path, was first published in 1970.
A group of Bradford Grammar School Venture Scouts were guinea pigs for the
new walking route in a rain-soaked April 1969, a month before the walk was
officially launched. Some of the Scouts will be reunited with Mr Speakman later
this month for the launch of the book’s tenth edition.
See the Ilkley Gazette &
Craven Herald, Thursday 24 March 2011
Author retraces his Dales route
The founder of a Yorkshire walk route has updated a guide book he wrote more
than 40 years ago. The tenth edition of Dales Way - the 78 mile route between
Ilkley and Bowness-on-Windermere - by Colin Speakman (pictured) is being
published this month. The edition features colour maps and photographs, with
additions including an alternative route between Cam Fell and Upper Dentdale,
and a history of the People's Path. The Dales Way - the Complete Guide,
published by Skyware, of Saltaire, is priced at £9.99.
See the Craven Herald website
West Riding Rambler No. 125,
"Dales Way The Complete Guide" Now Revised
By Keith Wadd.
The revised edition of Colin Speakman's Complete Guide has just been
published, and what a charming book it is. As a guide it is excellent. There is
a clear and detailed description of the entire route, and the accompanying full
colour strip maps could not be bettered. Furthermore, the description and maps
extend to the link routes from Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate. But it is so much
more than a walking guide. For a start it is written by Colin who knows the
route intimately, and cherishes every inch of it. Next, it is a mine of
information, because you learn from the book so much about the places that the
Dales Way visits - a brief history of Ilkley, lead-mining in Upper Wharfedale,
"The Dales Rail Story", "Dent and its terrible knitters",
and many more. The book also refers in more than one place to the contribution
of West Riding Area of the Ramblers' Association. Present members and officers
of the Area have inherited a great tradition of work for walkers.
The book is beautifully produced by Skyware Press of Saltaire with 47
stunning photographs in full colour, and lots more in black and white. The book
is handily sized for going in the pocket of Dales Way walkers, and is on durable
paper. It is also an enjoyable read for those who, nostalgically or not, want to
spend some pleasant recumbent hours doing the Dales Way in the mind. It is really
good value at £9.99, and can be ordered on line at www.skyware.co.uk or by post
from Skyware, 48 Albert Avenue, Saltaire BD18 4NT.
See the West Riding Ramblers
Walk - magazine of the Ramblers, Summer
"Dales Way: the Complete Guide"
£9.99, Skyware, ISBN 978 0955998720
It's more than 40 years since Tom Wilcock and Colin Speakman (interviewed on
p77) of West Riding Ramblers began to plot a 125km/78-mile walking route from
Ilkley in the Yorkshire Dales to Bowness on Windermere in the Lake District. It
became the Dales Way, and Colin Speakman's original guidebook has now been
updated. Combining text, photos and the same style of strip maps, it lovingly
describes one of our most popular long-distance footpaths.
See the Walk Magazine.
Westmorland Gazette, 17th May 2011
Review: Dales Way, by Colin Speakman
THE DALES WAY - THE COMPLETE GUIDE: Colin Speakman, £9.99.
AS A Yorkshireman now living in Kendal, this book really captured my
Speakman’s guide is packed with fantastic images of the Dales Way, which
begins at Ilkley, near Bradford and Leeds, and ends at Bowness-on-Windermere.
The maps are also ridiculously easy to understand – so much so that I
reckon a three-year-old could quite easily follow them.
And if history floats your boat, there is plenty of information to sink your
teeth into about the many landmarks on the walk.
Speakman is not wrong with the title of this book – it really is a ‘complete’
See the Westmorland Gazette
The Dalesman, June 2011
Dales Way by Colin Speakman
£9.99. Published by Skyware. ISBN 9780955998720
If, like me, you still carry about an old Dalesman version of this
publication on the Dales Way then it's time you updated to this latest guide.
The 78-mile route from Ilkley to Bowness has been open for more than forty years
now and this version of the guide includes new link routes from Leeds, Harrogate
and Bradford. Easy to follow maps and colour photos. 112 pages.
See The Dalesman.
Strider August 2011
DALES WAY - THE COMPLETE GUIDE
By Colin Speakman
ISBN 978-9559987-2-0 111pp 2011 £9.99
Colin Speakman is the author of the original guide to the Dales Way first
published in 1970 by Dalesman. He was also, with the late Tom Wilcock, the
originator of the idea for the path from Ilkley to Bowness.
There have been nine previous Dalesman editions, there is the Dales Way
Companion by Paul Hannon and in only the last issue of Strider there was
a mention of a new guide published by Rucksack Readers. Google The Dales Way and
you'll get 26 million hits. So why do we need another guide? Well, I guess one
answer is that it depends on what the market will bear and if demand was there
for all the previous editions and other author's books, then the market can
certainly bear this one.
This is probably because the Dales Way, whilst not a National Trail, is,
nevertheless, a national treasure. The reasons are many but foremost are that it
is probably one of the most accessible long distance paths in the UK, is
walkable by a wide range of abilities and, above all, is cherished by the Dales
Way Association and the West Riding Ramblers. It is a beautiful 80-odd miles
walk but made even more accessible and interesting with the development of the
three links to the start at Ilkley from Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate.
Many LDWA members will have already walked this route but whether you have
done so and graduated to tougher challenges or not yet done it, get hold of this
book and start planning to do it (again) soon. Whether you run it in a (long)
day or take a gentle ten days there are many ways to enjoy this walk and this
guide with lovingly written details, good overview maps, detailed coloured strip
maps and fine photographs is a model of its kind. What I especially like are the
arrowed inserts on the strip maps to information like 'good view back to Simon's
Seat', not intrusive but you can't miss it.
Don't be completely fooled by its benign reputation though, it climbs to 520m
at Cam High Road (where it meets the Pennine Way) and the path as a whole can be
very wet at times.
My only complaint is that my already well-thumbed copy is falling apart and
it will not fit opened out into the standard map case so that it can be read
easily whilst on the move. Apart from that it's a splendid up-to-date guide.
See the Long Distance Walkers Association
Settle-Carlisle Railway Journal, August 2011
Dales Way: the complete guide
£9.99 + £2.00 p+p
The Dales Way is a 78 mile long distance walk from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere
which was conceived by Colin Speakman and fellow West Riding Rambler, Tom
Some years ago, when I expressed an interest in walking the Dales Way, a
friend gave me a copy of the second edition of this guidebook which was
published in 1973. I still have the book but have never got round to completing
the walk although I have walked several sections of it over the years.
The original book was a traditional-style walking guide with close-set print
and a few black and white photos. This beautifully produced new edition is
illustrated throughout with colour photographs and excellent strip maps of the
entire route. The clarity of these maps is one of the outstanding features of
the book. It would be possible to complete the walk using the maps alone but it
would be a pity to miss the interesting facts and observations included in the
The route descriptions are clear and easy to follow. There are handy inserts
containing information on the towns, villages and landmarks along the way and a
useful list of accommodation, food stops and transport facilities.
The Dales Way link routes from Bradford, Harrogate and Leeds are included as
well as a suggested alternative route from Cam Houses into Dentdale using the
new Pennine Bridleway.
Reviewing this book has certainly reawakened my interest in walking the Dales
Way and I would recommend it as an essential companion for anyone undertaking
See the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle