This higher route between Keld and Reeth is a unique walk which most hikers choose not because it is more beautiful than the low route (though it does provide splendid views), but because it navigates between long-gone lead mines and infrastructure that shaped the Swaledale we see today. Lead mining peaked in this area during the 18th and 19th century, and the paths which today bustle with walkers would once have been frequented by miners.
Along the way, you will discover rusting machinery, many derelict buildings which would once have been peat stores, smelting mills and miners’ houses. Mounds of excavated rubble and scree transform the tops of the moors into a lunar landscape making for a bizarre walking experience.
Reeth is known as the ‘Capital of Swaledale’ and is the biggest settlement in the area, yet still maintains that charming ‘small-village’ feel, centred around a village green and surrounded on all sides by rolling hills, fragmented into a patchwork of fields by drywalls.
Rest StopThe Burgoyne Hotel
The Black Bull
The Bridge Inn
Two Dales Bakery
There are a few stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement or verge. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a right-hand turn, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum chance to see you.
There are several river crossings in today’s walk. There are always stepping stones available but these may be slippery.
The section across the moors can be featureless. It is important to read the instructions and check the map regularly to ensure you stay on the correct path.
This route can become very boggy; take your time to work out the best route to navigate across it.
There are a few sections on steep scree slopes; place your feet carefully. Walking poles will help a lot if you have them.
If you wish to carry a hardcopy map, we would recommend buying the Harvey Coast to Coast maps (East and West for the full route). Alternatively, you may wish to print the daily maps directly from our app.
Tips and hints
Points of Interest
Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre
This museum sits in the Old Literary Building. There are an interesting collection of display boards and a video which provide insight into life in this region.
More information available here: http://keld.org.uk/
This museum is an excellent resource to learn more about life in Swaledale with a focus on the lead mining industry, which over the years has contributed largely to the history, culture and way of life in the valley. Although the mines have closed, there is still much evidence of it, as you will have seen on today’s walk.
More information available here: http://www.swaledalemuseum.org/
Food and Drink
There is nowhere to buy food between Keld and Reeth, so be sure to bring enough supplies for today’s walk before leaving Keld.
Reeth is the biggest town in the Swale Valley and has a collection of pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
This walk is isolated with limited opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.
Basic Equipment for Hiking
- Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
- Layered, moisture wicking clothing
- Hiking socks
- Rucksack (with rain cover)
- Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
- Hiking poles
- Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
- First aid kit
- Kit para bolhas
- Bivy / survival bag
- Survival blanket
- Pocket knife
- Cell phone
- Navigation equipment / map and compass
- Emergency contact details
- The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
- For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
- Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.