The Lady Anne’s Way, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020, is a 100-mile trail which travels through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain.
Named after Lady Anne Clifford, an iconic figure in the history of northern England, this route combines delightful walking with local history and in doing so provides a fascinating insight into the life of this inspirational woman.
Born in the 16th century, Lady Anne was the third and only surviving child of George Clifford – the third Earl of Cumberland – who had risen to fame within the court of Queen Elizabeth I as a skilled jouster. When Anne was 15 her father passed away, and she found that she was not in line to inherit his vast estate which had instead been left to her uncle.
She spent the next 40 years fighting to regain what she believed was her rightful inheritance.
Lady Anne was born at Skipton Castle, where the Way begins. Skipton is now a thriving market town and famous for being the ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’.
With plenty to explore in Skipton, including the canal and the many alleyways and back streets where you will find some lovely little shops, it is worth spending some time in this historic North Yorkshire town before making your way back up towards the Castle.
In 1643, Lady Anne finally gained control of the Clifford estates and dedicated the rest of her life to restoring the great castles of Skipton, Pendragon, Brough, Appleby and Brougham.
She also began rebuilding many of the churches and chapels on her estate, as well as founding almshouses for poor widows in Appleby, and establishing many other philanthropic projects for which she is remembered.
The Lady Anne’s Way follows the routes she often travelled between these once magnificent buildings, allowing us to walk in her footsteps and appreciate the work that she undertook.
From Skipton, The Way meanders through Wharfedale and Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales, before venturing through the ruggedly beautiful Mallerstrang, and onto the tranquil Eden Valley. The terrain varies dramatically from woodland to moorland, and riverside paths to exposed fells and sheltered valleys.
Not only characterised by its beautiful landscapes, the trail also passes through many charming towns and quaint villages along the way. Some of our favourites include Grassington, Kettlewell, Hawes, Kirkby Stephen, Brough, Appleby and Penrith.
The Lady Anne’s Way finishes at Brougham Castle, where she died in 1676 at the age of 86.
This was Lady Anne’s favourite castle and it is certainly easy to see why. Set peacefully on the banks of the River Eamont with panoramic views of the Eden Valley, this spectacular ruin is a fitting end to a wonderful walk.
Although the terrain is not particularly challenging there are a few steeper hills to ascend along the way. However, with its spectacular and varied landscapes, picturesque towns and villages, and unique perspective on the life and achievements of local legend Lady Anne Clifford, The Lady Anne’s Way offers something for everyone.
This, coupled with the warm welcome you can expect from your hosts throughout the Dales and Cumbria, make The Lady Anne’s Way a walk that demands to be added to the bucket list!
P.S. Absolute Escapes offer self-guided walking holidays on The Lady Anne’s Way, as well as many of the best hiking trails in the UK & Ireland. Our packages include hand-picked accommodation, baggage transfers, guidebook/map, and personalised information pack.