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.
RuststopTwo Dales Bakery
The Black Bull
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 OS Explorer Map OL30 - Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central Area. Alternatively, you may wish to print the daily maps directly from our app.
Tips en hints
Points of Interest
Please see the interactive map for notable points of interest along the walk, including recommended pubs/restaurants and tearoom stops. Simply click the icons on the map for more information as you walk.
1. There are no regular buses between Keld and Reeth.
2. Taxi - BD Taxis - 01768 371682
Such is the way of British hiking, that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of the 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 few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.