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A brief glimpse into Swaledale Walk, Yorkshire Dales

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Walk Details

Wensleydale and Swaledale lie adjacent to one another, separated by a high, undulating ridge. Both valleys travel east/west and there the similarity ends. Wensleydale is a broad bottomed ‘U’ shaped valley. Swaledale’s flatlands being narrow, the ‘V’ shape obvious.

Wensleydale’s lush greenness has traditionally supported dairy farming, cheese production etc., while Swaledale’s economy …

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was based on more industrialised origins – lead mining for example, and also sheep farming. Both have a wonderful network of footpaths.

This walk starts in the village of Muker – you’ll find the carpark immediately before the bridge. As you leave the car park – you’re continuing straight on (not crossing the bridge) to join the ancient highway track (immediately to the right of the road) that is known as Occupation Road.

The track rises steeply, presenting wonderful views of Muker and the Swale gorge beyond. The hill forming the left-hand wall of the gorge is Kisdon Hill. The farm resting below the summit will be visited later.

Reaching a junction a point known as ‘three loanin end’ (three lanes meet) turn right, then proceed on level terrain until a concreted ‘bridge’ has been crossed. A few paces beyond this turn right and descend in another enclosed lane with the symmetrically shaped Kisdon Hill directly ahead.

Approaching the lower end of the enclosed way the houses of Muker with its white church clock face prominent, appear to the right, while the rooftops of Thwaite are seen to the left. Arriving at a small barn, turn left through the gate, cross a stream and continue in another enclosed lane, heading towards Thwaite, the next port of call.

After passing through three additional gates, descend to a narrow gate (if it has been raining you may hear the waterfall), cross the footbridge then follow the track to the main road. Turn left into Thwaite – where time has seemingly stood still. Thwaite is a Norse word meaning – a clearing. Cross the road bridge and swing right at the Kearton Tea Rooms (unless you’re tempted to stop for a brew first?). Walk along the ‘High Street’, seeking a stile close to a telegraph pole. The signpost indicates – Pennine Way. Muker. No bicycles. Ignore the turn to Angram, instead continue to the next signpost and turn left (Pennine Way) – this is the more exhilarating route back to Muker!

Cross two fields to arrive at a gate then turn right to walk around the field perimeter seeking a stile close to a barn. Keep following the Pennine Way route as the track rises steadily and arrives at a stile set in a limestone wall. At this point look across the valley and identify the enclosed way and the small barn, seen earlier. Graphically illustrated on this upward section are the plentiful number of barns (a feature of Swaledale) in the riverside fields. Nearly every field has a barn!

Beyond the stile follow an obvious path that runs to the rear of the farmhouse. Pass through two adjacent gates to rise in an enclosed track. At the top end of this section turn 90° right and commence a wondrous descent into Muker commencing with a green swathe, continuing down the access road.

Entering Muker turn right then left to pass St. Mary’s church and the architecturally pleasing Literary Institute, then turn left to return to the car park. The original church at Muker was erected in 1580, as a chapel of ease to St. Andrew’s, Grinton. Little remains of the original fabric due to alterations and enlargements over the years.

Carpark:  Muker (OS Grid reference: SD910978)

trainNearest Train (or tube) Station(s):

Read the Countryside Code before venturing out
Make sure to take a map and compass, and know how to use them before going into our National Parks #BeAdventureSmart

Tips for New Walkers: click here to download (PDF).

Remember to prepare properly before heading out on any type of walk or outdoor activity. Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. As Wainwright says "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing".