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Looking up Swaledale to Crackpot Hall
Looking up Swaledale to Crackpot Hall

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Route No. 453 - Wednesday 1 February2012
Muker, Kisdon Hill, Keld,
Crackpot Hall circuit - 9km
Swaledale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas


Muker seen from the car park across the River Swale
Muker seen from the car park across the River Swale

The lane up to Kidson from Muker
The lane up to Kisdon from Muker

From the car park we crossed the river on the road bridge and made a comfort stop at the public toilets on the main street. We set off up the lane opposite the toilets, past the entrance to the church and followed the lane out of the village heading for the tiny hamlet of Kisdon.

Today the weather forecast for the Yorkshire Dales was good, fine and dry with plenty of sunshine but very cold with some wind on the tops. A friend of mine, Andrew, drove the two of us to Muker in Swaledale where we met another friend, Ray. We parked in the little pay & display car park on the edge of the village at map ref. SD910977.

Setting off from Muker
Setting off from Muker

Looking back down Swaledale
Looking back down Swaledale

The lane climbing up towards the hamlet of Kidson from Muker
The lane climbing up towards the hamlet of Kisdon from Muker

Houses at Kidson on the hillside
Houses at Kisdon on the hillside

Snowy track up Kidson Hill
Snowy track up Kisdon Hill

At Kisdon we left the tarmac lane behind and headed straight up the hillside on a steep path, definitely the hardest part of the climb. As we ascended we reached the snowline and in places the ice on the path needed care to cross safely. At the top of this steep climb the path followed a drystone wall and made a right angle turn to the west (left) at map ref. SD902990. There was a lovely view at this point over the River Swale below us.

The narrow tarmac lane made a steep zig-zag climb up the hillside and at once there was a wonderful view of Swaledale with the valley bottom green and bright in the winter sunshine and the hill tops with a glistening white coating of snow. The views just got better and better as we made the steep climb up to Kisdon where we crossed the Pennine Way route.

Sign post on the Pennine Way below Kidson
Sign post on the Pennine Way below Kisdon

Snowy track up Kidson Hill
Snowy track up Kisdon Hill

Looking over Angram and Thorns from Kidson Hill
Looking over Angram and Thorns from Kisdon Hill

Snowy track over Kidson Hill
Snowy track over Kisdon Hill

Rabbit tracks in the snow
Rabbit tracks in the snow

We followed the path through the snow over the relatively flat hilltop for almost 700m. Here the path began a long descent diagonally down the very steep hillside overlooking the hamlets of Angram and Thorns.

This path over Kisdon Hill is known as 'The Old Corpse Road' because for many years in the past the nearest consecrated burial ground was at Grinton and coffins were carried along this track from Keld all the way to Grinton, over 20km.

Memorial stone built into the wall
Memorial stone built into the wall

Starting to descend towards Keld
Starting to descend towards Keld


Looking over Angram and Thorns from Kisdon Hill


Looking over Angram and Thorns from Kisdon Hill

Isolated farmstead on Kidson Hill
Isolated farmstead on Kisdon Hill

Nearing the valley bottom near Keld
Nearing the valley bottom near Keld

Looking back to the track coming down from Kidson Hill
Looking back to the track coming down from Kisdon Hill

We crossed the stream in the valley bottom to reach the road, the B6370, at map ref. NY892005 and followed the road into Keld.

The scenery here is stunning especially in the winter sunshine with the snow capped hills. We dropped down below the snowline into the green of the valley once more.

Almost down to the snowline near Keld
Almost down to the snowline near Keld

Crossing the stream between Thorns & Keld
Crossing the stream between Thorns & Keld

Farm dog on guard duty
Farm dog on guard duty

Approaching Keld
Approaching Keld

Diseased rabbit sitting by the roadside in Keld
Diseased rabbit sitting by the roadside in Keld

The Pennine way route crosses this bridge on its way north from Thwaite and Kisdon.

We walked down through the village to the end of the village street. Here we turned right to follow a track out to a bridge over the River Swale at map ref. NY895010.

The village street in Keld
The village street in Keld

End of the village street in Keld
End of the village street in Keld

Leaving Keld heading down Swaledale
Leaving Keld heading down Swaledale

Pennine Way footbridge over the River Swale
Pennine Way footbridge over the River Swale

We sat there in the sunshine with a lovely view and the sound of rushing water for our lunch. It was all very pleasant indeed.

Just across the bridge the beck flowing down from East Gill joins the River Swale. There is a very pretty waterfall on the beck.

The East Gill beck joins the River Swale
The East Gill beck joins the River Swale

Waterfall on the East Gill beck
Waterfall on the East Gill beck

Looking down Swaledale
Looking down Swaledale

The remains of a tractor embedded in the path
The remains of a tractor embedded in the path

The building is a farm house and out buildings dating from the 1700's and could also have been used as mine offices for the large lead mine nearby. The view down the valley was amazing and we stood there for a few minutes just to take it all in.

After our lunch we followed the River Swale downstream on a track high above the river. We passed the site of the two Kisdon Force waterfalls far below us but they were obscured by the trees on the steep valley side. After about 1km we came to the ruins of Crackpot Hall on a prominent site looking down the valley.

Track above the River Swale near Crackpot Hall
Track above the River Swale near Crackpot Hall

The path down Swaledale near Crackpot Hall
The path down Swaledale near Crackpot Hall

The ruins of Crackpot Hall above the River Swale
The ruins of Crackpot Hall above the River Swale

Swaledale from the track below Crackpot Hall
Swaledale from the track below Crackpot Hall


Heading down to the riverside from Crackpot Hall

It was a good size and I took some measurements of the tree and a few photos so that I could add the tree to the Ancient Tree Hunt web site.

From the ruin we made our way along the track down through some woodland where I spotted a large birch tree by the path.

Large birch tree by the path
Large birch tree by the path

Lead mining remains at Swinner Gill
Lead mining remains at Swinner Gill

Waterfall in Swinner Gill
Waterfall in Swinner Gill

Swinner Gill
Swinner Gill

We crossed the stream on a foot bridge and continued along the river bank.

At the end of the wood the track dropped down past the ruins of some old lead mining buildings at Swinner Gill.

Lead mining remains at Swinner Gill
Lead mining remains at Swinner Gill

Footbridge across Swinner Gill
Footbridge across Swinner Gill

Lead mining remains at Swinner Gill
Lead mining remains at Swinner Gill

Swaledale in the afternoon sunshine
Swaledale in the afternoon sunshine

Swaledale in the afternoon sunshine
Swaledale in the afternoon sunshine

Whilst looking down the valley the shadows of the stone walls enclosing the fields made an eye catching pattern on the valley floor. About 2.5km from Crackpot Hall we came to a footbridge across the Swale at map ref. SD910986.

The low winter sun was picking out the colours in the valley as we walked alongside the river. Looking back up the valley we could see Crackpot Hall in a pool of sunlight high on the hillside.

Crackpot Hall in a patch of sunshine
Crackpot Hall in a patch of sunshine

Footbridge over the River Swale near Muker
Footbridge over the River Swale near Muker

Heading for Muker along the valley bottom
Heading for Muker along the valley bottom

Footbridge over the River Swale near Muker
Footbridge over the River Swale near Muker

Traditional field barn near Muker
Traditional field barn near Muker

Back in Muker at the end of our walk
Back in Muker at the end of our walk

The time included our lunch stop, inspection of Crackpot Hall and recording a tree for the ancient tree hunt. The weather had been perfect for a day in the hills making the long drive to get here well worth while.

We crossed the footbridge and followed the path across the fields past an old Swaledale field barn and back into Muker. The whole walk had been about 9km and it had taken us just over 4 hours to walk.

Path down to the footbridge
Path down to the footbridge

Footpath back into Muker
Footpath back into Muker

Entrance to the church in Muker
Entrance to the church in Muker

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 9km, about five and a half miles, from the village of Muker in Swaledale. Swaledale is a long valley and Muker is about 17 miles up the valley from Richmond, quite a remote place. We start from a little car park on the edge of the village and follow a narrow lane making a steep zig-zag climb up Kisdon Hill to the tiny hamlet of Kisdon almost 1km from Muker. The Pennine Way passes through Kisdon but we cross the Pennine way route and leave the lane to continue straight up the hillside, the steepest part of the climb up Kisdon Hill. The whole climb up from Muker to the top of Kisdon Hill is about 250m, 830 feet. Close to the top the path makes a sharp turn left and here on the corner there is a tremendous view across and down Swaledale. Kisdon Hill is almost an island. The river Swale flows across the northern side and down the eastern side of the hill but there is no road in the valley here. A tributary of the Swale called Straw Beck flows down the western side of the hill and across the south. The road along Swaledale actually follows Straw Beck from Muker to Keld and only the village of Keld stands at the north west corner of Kisdon Hill between Straw Beck and the River Swale. We continue across the top of Kisdon Hill along a path known as "The Old Corpse Road". From medieval times bodies had to be carried along the path over Kisdon Hill from Keld to the nearest consecrated burial ground which was at Grinton almost 20km away. We follow the old corpse road into Keld and make our way down to the bridge over the River Swale below the village. This is the bridge that the Pennine Way uses on its way north. The bridge is next to East Gill and there is a very pretty waterfall on this beck. It makes a pleasant spot to stop for lunch with a lovely view and the sound of the cascading water. The walk continues following the River Swale downstream. This part of Swaledale is particularly fine to walk because there is no road in the valley, just the fast flowing river and the path following the river with a great view across the river to the huge bulk of Kisdon Hill and looking down the steep sided valley with a series of hill tops receding into the distance. At first the path is quite high above the river and from this bank of the river there is no good view of the series of waterfalls called Kisdon Force. You can make a short detour to see them before crossing the bridge over the river if you wish. We soon reach a large ruined farm called Crackpot Hall. It has a magnificent position high up the valley side with a view straight down Swaledale. It's thought that from the 1500's there was a hunting lodge here but the present building dates from the mid 1700's and was occupied until the early 1950's. We continue down to the riverside at Swinner Gill. This was a lead mining site in the 1700's and the ruins of some of the mine buildings and spoil heaps are still visible. We follow the riverside path down the valley to a footbridge across the river and a paved causeway back into Muker and the end of our walk.

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