During the last two weeks of June I walked a100 mile long distance footpath; Lady Anne’s Way with my Mum and her dog, Susan.
We had been planning this for some time as a fund raising effort for a local charity – Reminiscence Learning – that had provided so much support for my Mum and Dad as Dad’s dementia progressed.
We shared our day to day experience of the walk on Instagram and had an amazing time in beautiful countryside. Below are a few photos from the walk.
How we organised our walk
When we decided to walk a long distance footpath we weren’t sure how we would arrange it. We didn’t want to carry our tents with us (as newbies to long distance walking we weren’t sure we would have the energy to carry a large backpack over the 100 miles). We also weren’t keen on spending money on a B&B each night for a couple of reasons. Staying in B&Bs would mean booking up in advance and being committed to walking on specific days which might be rainy and unpleasant. Also staying in B&Bs without access to a kitchen would mean we’d have to find somewhere to eat each night which would be costly and we might be too tired to want to go out.
After playing around with some options we decided to base ourselves at three campsites along the route and use a combination of public transport and lifts to get to and from the walk each day. Mum would be camping in a tent and Paul and I would be in the motorhome. Paul would be our support driver, cook and campsite manager while Mum and I walked and rested. Susan, Mum’s tiny cavapoo, would walk with us as much as possible but Paul took on dog-sitting duties when she was worn out.
Oddly, it was quite tricky to find well located campsites that catered to both motorhomes and tents; if we were all in a motorhome then we would have access to a lot more park ups. And if we were all in tents we would have access to smaller farm based campsites. But with one of each we were restricted to the more standard campsites.
We also needed to work out how many days we wanted to do the walk over. The guide book recommends a 6 day and 9 day option, based around the availability of B&B type accommodation in villages and towns en-route.
We knew the 6 day option was probably out of our league, the 9 day option was better, but the walking pattern wasn’t very evenly spaced out in the end we made our own 10 day plan that split the walk into roughly equal sections. 10 miles a day doesn’t sound very much, but it was plenty for us, especially with the amount of interesting historical sites to take in as well. We worked out that we walked closer to 150 miles with detours and exploration included.
On the two days we moved campsite we would have a rest day, do some shopping and sightseeing.
Where did we stay
After our planning we stayed at the following campsites:
Wood Nook Caravan Park near Grassington. This campsite was very well located for good bus services. We mostly got to/from our walk start/end points by bus. It was our favourite campsite for it’s friendly, family run atmosphere. At the weekend they had Pizzas and a small bar and the campsite residents sat on the field in front of the farm building eating and drinking. It was very convivial.
Bainbridge Ings Country Park. This campsite near Hawes was well located for public transport covering a couple of days of the walk. It has stupendous views and is within walking distance of Hawes, which is a lovely town to visit. There are a number of units operated by Hoseasons on the same site. The campsite was a bit disorganised when we arrived. The lady we spoke to on our first day had a record of our booking but was very confused about our pitch allocation. By the second day they had lost any record of us and we were made to feel a bit unwelcome as we appeared to be in someone else’s pitch. It was all sorted out in the end but left us wondering whether there were other issues at the site.
Alanholme Camping. This was our last campsite and was not particularly well placed for public transport, we were reliant on Paul for lifts. On the other hand we did walk right by it on one of our day’s walking so could pop to the motorhome for a cuppa and to drop the dog off. It is a small campsite and the owners were very accommodating It’s right in the village of Long Marton, with long reaching views to the west that I imagine get great sunsets in the right conditions. The local pub was just a short walk away so it was a good place to enjoy a meal and a glass of fizz to celebrate the end of our walk.
How was it?
We really enjoyed ourselves but felt that we missed out a little on the romance of itinerant walking. I would really like to do it ‘properly’ one day, carrying my tent with me and stopping where I get tired.
However the way we did the walk really worked for our constraints and it was nice to have a support person on hand, although Paul did lose interest a bit half way through the walk. Two weeks may have been too long with his Mother-In-Law. When he could see the end in sight be perked up again.
I appreciated the opportunity to spend so much time with Mum and was really proud of her. Nearly two weeks of walking and tent camping when over 70 is no mean feat We also managed to raise a great sum for our chosen charity. Along the route we encountered a few people who were very generous but most of our fundraising was from friends and family.
The walk itself was full of interest, with many historical features linked to Lady Anne’s programme of castle renovations. Plus Norman churches, historic bridges and pretty villages with tea rooms (we made quite a lot of use of these). The stunning countryside was varied; river valleys, wild moorland, wooded countryside and farmland. Our favourite day was walking the balcony path along the Mallerstang but it was hard to pick just one.
The paths in the Yorkshire Dales national park were well maintained and easy to follow. As we left the national park, in the latter stages of the walk, the paths were less well maintained and there were a few instances where the paths were overgrown and stiles were a bit dilapidated. Inquisitive bullocks were a feature of a few days of our walks but, unsurprisingly, the animals we encountered most were sheep, including some great rare breeds. We saw plenty of birds; a barn owl, marsh harriers, loads of curlews, oyster catchers and lapwings, but were very disappointed not to see a kingfisher.
We have never encountered so many stiles. Some of my lingering memories of the walk are the hilarious antics of Susan the pooch who found stiles very confusing and initially would refuse to climb over the stone stiles, go under the wooden stiles or through the dog gates. Even though she is an incredibly diminutive dog she would duck her head as if she was going to knock it on the crossbar that was at least twice her height. It took a lot of persuasion and treats to get her used to them.
We are planning to do another long distance footpath next year. Watch this space.
Raising Money for Reminiscence Learning
We used Just Giving to raise money for this very worthwhile charity. Because the Just Giving page will expire you can also see the reason why we were raising money below:
We are mum and daughter Robbie and Becky.
In 2018 we received the news that Eric, Robbie’s husband and Dad to Becky, Vicki and Kate, had been diagnosed with dementia.
Over the following years, as his dementia evolved, the family developed their own coping strategies. However there came a time where more support was needed. It was at this point that Reminiscence Learning provided a lifeline.
Reminiscence Learning provide an amazing range of services for people living with dementia and their carers. From Forest School to Funday Friday; from Respite Activity Days to invaluable Carers’ Support groups; they have provided a safe place for Robbie, Eric and the family.
This year this fabulous charity celebrate their 20th anniversary and we hope to contribute to their fundraising so that they can continue to support families like ours.
Lady Anne’s Way is a 100 mile walk from Skipton to Penrith (www.ladyannesway.co.uk). We will be setting off on 17th June to attempt this in 10 days with our support driver Paul Howard.