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Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

Seattle, WA
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Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

We are traveling to England in September 2011 and want to do a 5-7 day walk. Our ideal would be to walk through beautiful farmlands and river valleys past quaint villages, ruined (or not) abbeys and castles. Also, enough local pubs and inns to stop for lunch some of the days and each night to sleep.

Both the Cotswold Way and the Dales Way seem like they could fit the bill and we're having a difficult time deciding. I'm a little worried that the Cotswold Way might be too crowded or touristy but it sure looks beautiful.

Before or after the walk we will be traveling in Scotland for about 2 weeks.

We have been reading a lot in guidebooks but there's nothing like talking to people who've been there. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

I wouldn't worry too much about crowds - most people are pretty lazy so once you're a couple of miles from the nearest car park, things thin out a lot. Walking is very popular in this country but you'll rarely feel it

Of more an issue is accommodation - you'll need to book, as sadly the days of 3 pubs in every village, and at least one of them doing rooms available to the passing traveller, are long gone. Most inns that still do rooms have gone upmarket towards the boutique hotel route for economic reasons, and there are a lot fewer that do. In popular outdoor areas like these two, if the weather's decent (let's hope so), then accommodation will be in short supply

Given your requirements, have you looked at Offa's Dyke path? It roughly follows the border between Wales and England, through brilliant countryside (better than the other two IMO, principally because there's more variety). The start point takes you past Chepstow - one of the very best ruined castles - and up the Wye valley, which is one of the most scenic river valleys in these isles, past Tintern Abbey. Then it crosses some lovely farmland from Monmouth before climbing to a spectacular ridge walk over the grassy Black Mountains, before dropping in to the book town of Hay on Wye. There are some great pubs along the way too

That section is about 90 kilometres which is about 3-6 days walking depending on your approach to things! It's just as nice going north from there too, mind

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/offasdyke/

Seattle, WA
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2. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

Thanks for the suggestion - I will look into Offa's Dyke path. I looked at the link you sent me and it looks very nice.

Oxfordshire
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3. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

The Dales Way will turn out to be more "crowded" – but only in the sense that the middle of the Sahara desert is probably more crowded than the middle of the Gobi desert.

You might think about the terrain. Ups and downs are a lot uppier and downier in the Dales

Australia
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4. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

We have just walked the Cotswold Way (late May) and found it a wonderful experience, but suggest if you want to stop and look at the scenery and sights and planning to take only 5-7 days, just limit yourself to the northern part. Yes the CW can be walked in the timeframe you have in mind, but depending on your fitness level and age, doing the whole walk in that time frame could be a bit of a stretch. We pre booked all accommodation several weeks in advance, as the accommodation tends to cluster a bit around the more popular tourist points. BTW some days we only saw one or 2 people actually on the walk, as opposed to locals rambling in the woods and commons along the way. although we are not familair with the other walks can recommend the CW.

Yorkshire Dales...
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for North Yorkshire, Suffolk
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5. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

To throw another suggestion into the pot - how about the Nidderdale way? This is about 55 miles long, and you'll get a lot of peace, solitude and stunning Dales countryside. Scarhouse in particular is just breath taking, plus you've got a castle at Ripley you can visit (not ruined).

.Nidderdale is not part of the Dales National Park for reasons which no one seems quite sure about, but it's a really beautiful part of the country. I'm biased though of course becase I live there!

www.visitnidderdaleaonb.com/nidderdale-46

Leicester, United...
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6. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

Walked the Dales Way a few years ago and if you choose that one then I doubt you will be disappointed. We didn't see that many people other than at the start and end of the walk. Varied terrain including the river valleys and depending which way you choose to walk ending in the Lakes

Bingley, United...
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7. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

"You might think about the terrain. Ups and downs are a lot uppier and downier in the Dales"

Down in the Dales means "not as steeply up"

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London
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8. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

A friend of mine and her husband had a marvelous time walking for three days. They would stay at one B & B, and arrange for a cab or the B & B to take their bags to the next B & B that they'd be walking to. Sometimes they'd do it for free, or it was a nominal fee. I know there are "sherpa services" but those are really pricey.

The Chiltern Hills is a lovely place to walk, but perhaps a bit steep, Cotswolds has many trails beyond the Cotswold Way--I believe the Heart of England is another.

Or what about North or South Downs?

nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-global/w-localto…

I would start looking at the UK Amazon website for a good book about walking in a specific area. There are some wonderful books out there.

Make sure the book is a recent publication--never forgot the time I got a used book (published in the 90's) and went up to Buckinghamshire for what seemed like a day full of promise. We got lost after the first 30 minutes, when we couldn't find the fence we were supposed to be keeping on our left hand side. My husband, ever the optimist, insisted on continuing on in the same direction, until we finally came to a kissing gate (look--it's in the book!) that was sitting all alone in the middle of an empty field. The fence hand been removed years before.

Have fun!

Seattle, WA
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9. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

Thanks to all of you for the help. Regarding the comment about the Dales Way and it's ups and downs I don't think that would be a problem for us. We live in the states in the pacific northwest where we hike a lot in pretty steep terrain in the Cascade Mountains. That is one reason why we would like to choose an area for a long distance walk that has features we don't have here, i.e., quaint villages, pastoral valleys, historical features, etc.

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London
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10. Re: Cotswold Way vs Dales Way - can you me decide?

Here's a book you may want to consider...even if you have to buy it from the UK.

(it will get there in no time--Royal Mail is impressive)

amazon.co.uk/North-Downs-British-Distance-Tr…

You'll also want an OS map, for the same area on 1:25 scale.