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Are footpaths in Yorkshire Dales generally muddy?

If it hasn't rained in a couple/few days, will paths in the Dales still be muddy? Or is that only a problem if there's recent rain?

I'm not keen on wet paths. I won't be taking hiking boots on the October trip, only sneakers/trainers. And I'm 75 years old and very much don't want to slip and fall.

Thank you.

Posted by
2063 posts

Thius may not be a very helpful answer, but a lot depends on the footpath and how heavily they get used. If it has been very wet before you come, the ground may still be wet and not dried out. (July was very wet and who knows what ther est of August and Septemebr will be like...) They can get very muddy around stiles of gates, or places were animals collect.

Areas on limestone do generally dry out quicker. Valley bottoms may stay damp longer.

Posted by
1469 posts

We were in the North in October. Just wear shoes with thick rubber or rubber-like soles and some water resistance or that dry quickly. Some of the paths are mowed grass. We did wear some garden boots that we bought at a hardware store, but only wore them once. Walk along the country roads, if necessary.

Posted by
84 posts

Thanks.
I've done a lot of desert and mountain hiking, so muddy paths have seldom been an issue. I like it that way, but we'd also like to walk the Dales.
We did walk a few days in Dartmoor 20 years ago, and we were lucky with the conditions. The biggest problem was the absolutely unavoidable sheep droppings just about every step. :-)

Posted by
4174 posts

Highly likely in almost any season and the footpaths may not be what you'd think of as footpaths.

I'm now 77 and I remember walking in the Lake District in the early fall of 1977. Even with good rain gear and serious Vasque hiking boots, I got drenched and had to put those boots in the drying room of my hostel. Fortunately, it was well equipped for drying out our stuff.

These days, I wear mid height boots (like these KEENs) that are waterproof and support my ankles. They've kept me from falling on rough terrain in and outside of cities many times. I wear them with over the calf compression socks (like these Sockwells) that keep my feet warm and dry no matter how many puddles or how much wet terrain I walk through.

You might want to reconsider your footwear. Last time I wore sneakers in Europe it was in Italy and it was a big mistake there -- not due to wetness but due to rough terrain in both the cities and countryside where we went.

See the info below and thoroughly explore it beyond the specific link I provided.

This link from Yorkshire Dales National Park gives advice and from it you can get to other parts of their website about walking in the area: https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/plan-your-visit/essential-information/take-care/

Please note this quote from it:

Clothing

Comfortable clothing/layers

Waterproof/windproof outer jacket

Boots with good sole pattern – trainers aren’t suitable except on the simplest of walks as they can slip and don’t support the ankle.

Hat and gloves

Spare warm clothing

Remember, when you’re resting, you may need more layers than when you’re on the move. Several thin layers give good insulation and allow you to adjust for the different activities dictated by terrain and weather conditions. Bear in mind that as you go higher it gets colder and windier.

Good luck with planning for your walk and with doing it.

Posted by
405 posts

Don't know about the Dales, but we found good tread to be absolutely vital on the Cotswold Way this July. We wore Allbirds Trail Runners, so water-resistant but not water-proof, though they dried out quickly and we didn't deal with wet feet more than once or twice. They have excellent tread though, so very little slipping even in the rain.

Posted by
81 posts

Some gateways/stiles can get muddy but you are more likely to find stone paths - and a lot of it is limestone that can be quite tricky. I would only wear something with some grip - if you want something lighter then a decent walking boot designed like a trainer might work out well

Posted by
1317 posts

Hi Jim -

If you are going to wear sneakers, then as others have noted, the thicker/more aggressive the soles are the better. What I’d term ‘road shoes’ won’t cut the mustard except on the most benign, flat, low level strolls.

I was out in the Dales - upper Wharfedale to be precise - at the weekend and we kept fairly low because of the weather forecast (which turned out to be overly pessimistic) which threatened thunder storms, so being exposed on the tops wasn’t a great idea. While it didn’t rain and the paths were largely dry, there had been rain earlier in the week and on the stony limestone based based paths the rocks felt greasy, for want of a better word, and all in our little group felt it was slippery underfoot, even though the paths couldn’t be described as either wet or muddy. I was wearing my heavy duty walking boots and I was wary. You also might find, as I do, that walking poles are your friend even at lower levels.

The picture in the Lakes is similar and while the geology is not limestone, the paths can be rocky and hard on the feet with few, if any, of the delightful ‘green roads’ we were able to enjoy in the Dales, which are blissful to walk on. But where stony, and possibly steep, thin soles wont do your feet any favours. Just for reference, and I realise the choice of sock/shoe combination is different for everybody, I favour a liner sock with a thicker ‘trekking/merino’ sock on top, and for this reason my boots are a size larger than my sneakers (I just wear the Coolmax liners with shoes/sneakers).

Have you got any ideas where you might like to walk in either the Dales or the Lakes? Might be able to give you more specific advice if you have any definite routes in mind.

Have a great trip!

Ian

P.S. Sheep droppings (and worse) are an occupational and unavoidable hazard everywhere. But the rhubarb in this part of the world……

Posted by
2744 posts

I was in the Dales two weeks ago, staying in Richmond (which I loved). It was on the wet side although we had sunshine too. We walked to Easby Abbey, to Willance’s Leap and beyond, and along the river. It was dry in places, but there were places where it was a bit muddy. Much of it was walking on grass, but in some places, the grass was soggy.

My husband and I wore Hokas, which have very thick soles but are not waterproof. We were careful on the muddy parts and were mostly able to find places to step that were dry, but not always. Where it was slippery, we just walked slowly. I slipped once or twice, but did not fall. Our feet got the wettest in the soggy grassy areas. We enjoyed our walks, but we did have to clean our shoes when we got back!

We are 69 and 71 and avid walkers.

Posted by
84 posts

The preponderance of replies in this and another thread have convinced us to modify our plans. Instead of going north, where we'd be more at the mercy of the weather and have fewer bad-weather options, we've tentatively decided to stay in the south, in or near the Cotswolds. If the weather is nice we can do village walks, if not we'll be in driving distance of Oxford, Birmingham (Cadbury tour), Cardiff, a couple smaller cities, and some AONBs.

Here's our tentative plan:

  • Fly into Manchester Train to Liverpool for probably 3 days (we're big Beatles fans)
  • Rental car to Cotswolds area for about 7 days, including 2 days in Oxford
  • Drive to London for 5-7 days
  • Fly home from London

So 15-18 days not counting arrival and departure days.

Thanks to all for your advice and for helping us firm up our plans. Not that they're actually final, but we've a better idea of what we're aiming for.

Posted by
581 posts

The weather in the Cotswolds won’t necessarily be better than the Dales and it will be every bit as muddy.

If it’s too wet in the Dales you will be driving distance from York, Harrogate, Masham with its brewery, Middleham with its castle, the lovely town of Richmond and a host of other places to do and see.

Honestly I’d much, much rather walk the Dales than the Cotswolds. It’s outstandingly beautiful.

Posted by
1317 posts

Hear now the wise words of Golden Girl. Cotswolds potentially as or more muddy than Dales. And the really bad news is they’ve got lots of sheep down there too…..!

Posted by
11491 posts

Cotswolds potentially as or more muddy than Dales. And the really bad news is they’ve got lots of sheep down there too…..!

We spent a week walking out of Bourton-on-the-Water and it was messy. Lots of low places, pastures, cow and sheep traffic which left their mark 💩 as well as trampled mud especially near gates. We had to hose off our boots every night and wash our pants.

Posted by
76 posts

If you want to hike, aim for the Peak District, particularly the southern half. Lots of choice of tracks; beautiful; easy to get to and get around. I walked the Peak Districts on day hikes in June and it was fabulous. I visited the Cotswolds last September and didn't seem too much that is special and didn't like the walking trails nearly as much as the Peak District.

Posted by
1469 posts

I loved the Peak District! It has villages with twisty roads stuck on the walls of canyons. It also has the great estate Chartsworth in Bakewell near Derby. Since you want to start in Liverpool/Mancester stay in the Midlands which I felt was the most "English" part of the UK. My other favorite is going west from Chester to visit North Wales and Edward's Castles. Visit the National Trust UK web site for other ideas and hiking itineraries.

Posted by
6718 posts

The big take away for you is that wherever you go the weather at that time of year is such that anywhere in the country you are likely to meet with muddy terrain, and other underfoot hazards.

I would strongly discourage you from feeling that sneakers or trainers are adequate footwear for use in the Cotswolds or the Dales or anywhere else hilly (even the North or South Downs for instance). Far too many of the call outs to our mountain rescues are to people with the wrong footwear (and yes I will use the pejorative word of "wrong" because I feel strongly about it. You are not walking in a city park. Packing light must have its limits. You need to pack realsitically.

The other big issue is people relying on their technology for mapping. You should go fully equipped as I hope you would at home, with paper based alternatives, and an ability to read paper maps.

Posted by
412 posts

Hi Jim.
Just a bit of a left field idea. We spent our first of 7 weeks in Wiltshire (at a friend's) back in 2016. Not far from either Cotswolds or Oxford. We did some great little runs and hikes around that area. One in particular was along the ancient Ridgeway to the awesome Uffington White Horse. The Ridgeway was pretty good underfoot. I ran and hiked through this area in what are basically spikeless track racing shoes.

While there we also did a quick overnighter camping trip just out of Crickhowell in Wales and did a lovely 13 km loop. It was all pretty good trail too. Also stopped for a visit to Abergevenny and Raglan Castles.

Posted by
84 posts

Everyone has been so helpful. Thanks very much!

Posted by
405 posts

One thing I forgot to mention, and that I see no one else has mentioned are hiking poles. Our friends wore traditional hiking boots, we wore the Allbirds trail shoes, but we all had a hiking pole, and they really helped us maintain balance in the wet and muddy areas. We own only carryon sized bags, but bought Black Diamond collapsible poles that break down to 3 attached pieces that easily fit in our bags, which we then checked. If you have larger bags, a regular collapsible pole like Leki might fit diagonally across the bottom of the bag.

Posted by
8876 posts

The words “ drive to London,” are unnerving.

NEVER consider driving to London.

Instead after you’ve driven around the Cotswolds drop the car off in Oxford and train to London!!!

Posted by
32 posts

I have no personal knowledge of the following except by watching a travelogue type show of the USA public broadcasting system. Since the mention of potential Yorkshire Dales hikes were mentioned, I thought it would be relevant to share.
https://www.herriotway.com/

It's a recommended 4-day trip.

Posted by
84 posts

The Peak District does sound appealing. We drove through it once, on our way back from Chatsworth, and it seemed small and not too impressive, perhaps due to the route we took. I've been researching a bit and it has real possibilities. Plus I could re-visit Chatsworth; that's the most impressive stately home I've ever seen.

Ridgeway has possibilities, as does the Herriot trail. We're fans of All Creatures -- started with the book 40 years ago. We'd probably do daily out-and-back though -- we like to end the day with a shower, pub meal, and comfy bed.

Thanks for the advice about turning the car in at Oxford. That's actually what we intended. We once drove out of London, but we arranged it for a Sunday towards the outskirts of the city. We wouldn't consider driving in London even if it were on the "right" side of the road. :-)

Thanks again to everyone for so much helpful advice.