Hiking Around

Leave only footprints, take only pictures and memories!

Keld to Muker.

Distance: 6½ miles / 10½ kilometers

Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Grade: Easy/Moderate

Map: OS Explorer OL30 - Yorkshire Dales - Northern & Central Area, Wensleydale & Swaledale

Walk Summary

The village of Keld lies approximately 3 miles north of the village Muker, they are quaint villages and typically have not changed over time. There is parking in both villages which are located on the B6270.

This is a very popular area with families, picnicers, photographers, hikers, casual walkers, dog walkers and bird watchers, as the area offers a variety of interests for a variety of tastes. This area could be considered as the waterfall capital of Swaledale, with 500 yards of Keld there are several waterfalls - Currack Force, Catrake Force, East Gill (upper and lower) Force, Kisdon (upper and lower) Force, and a little further south (½ of a mile) Swinner Gill Falls.

This version of the picturesque 6.5 circular walk starts in Keld and heads south to Muker, this is one of my all time favourite walks. It is a fairly easy walk with some fairly moderate ascents, whilst they are not strenuous, though may generate a bit of perspiration and may get the heart going particularly on hot summer days. It is advisable to carry sufficient fluids and pocket snacks.

This route starts at the Rukin's Tea Room car park in Keld adjacent to the campsite. The tea room offers hot and cold refreshments, a perfect place to look back on the day's adventures.

Leave the car park entrance where there is a honesty box, and straight ahead is the path signed the Swale Trail with an information board. The pathways are well defined with waymarkers, the terrain is a mix of stone rocky paths and sheep pasture.

There are three pathway options:
1. After 325 yards the stone laid path to the left leads down to waterfalls then along the southern side of Beldi Hill and Bracken Hill passing Crackpot Hall and Swinner Gill waterfalls, before descending to follow the eastern bank or the River Swale, or
Further along passed that path, after about 75 yards there is a small trail on the left which leads down to Kisdon Force. After visiting Kisdon Force return to the main trail, after a further 50 yards in Rukin Wood (which is adorned with bluebells and wild garlic in spring/early summer) there is another fingerpost:
2. Signed FP Muker 214 ml (straight ahead) to follow the valley and sheep grazing pasture, the path is fairly flat as it follows the western bank of the River Swale, and
3. Signed Pennine Way FP Thwaite/Muker (to the right) ascends the hillside to follow the eastern side of Kisdon Hill along Kisdon Side and North Gang Scar.

The routes can be walked as suggested or along the valley, in reverse, and can be started from either Keld or Muker.

There are various places to have a picnic whether this is; (1) along Kisdon Hill overlooking the valley, or (2) along the banks of the River Swale, or (3) along Beldi Hill and waterfalls, or at the remains of the abandoned Crackpot Hall. Alternatively there is the pub in Muker offering refreshments.

The school building in Keld was completed in 1842, which is now grade II listed, and home of the Keld Resource Centre and Heritage Centre/Museum offering an insight to the heritage of Upper Swaledale life.

The Keld chapel and the manse was rebuilt in 1818 and adjoining land purchased for a burial ground. Today the Keld United Reform Chapel welcomes visitors after a hike across the fells.

The village of Muker sits on the hillside above the River Swale, surrounded by wildflower meadows, with a flag stoned path and tiny and narrow wicket gates that lead through the meadows that surround the village are magnificent in June before being harvested in July. The meadows are so significant that they are protected as a SSSI.

Church of St Mary the Virgin dates from around 1580.

The Old School has become Muker Art Gallery & Craft Centre showcasing a range of work and well worth a visit.

The Farmers Arms, is an 18th century village inn that offers traditional ales and food.

After taking advantage of the offerings of Muker, the return trail passes through the wildflower meadows before crossing Ramps Holme Bridge that straddles the River Swale with Muker's wildflower meadows on the west and Ivelet Wood on the east. The trail turns left to follows the River Swale before ascending part of the southern hillside of Hall Out Pasture and passing a number of waterfalls before arriving back at the start.

A little detour to visit the ruins of Crackpot Hall an abandoned farm, though there is little left to see of the mid 18th century farmhouse, which was abandoned in 1953 because of subsidence caused by lead mining nearby. The hall offers some lovely views.