Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Muker Round

Muker Round

 7 Miles

It was a beautiful autumn morning. The forecast was for sunshine and showers, so we decided upon a gentle, low-level walk in Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park - a favourite. Setting off from Keld in bright sunshine, we walked down the road in the direction of Aygill. Nothing overtook us and our passing only served to set off some unseen farm dog.

Corpse Road

Very shortly, we turned off down to the left along a clear walled, bridleway - (an old corpse road from Keld to Grinton) . After crossing a small ford via a raised pathway to the side, the ground rose gently. Our way had been beautifully carpeted with fallen leaves of many hues. Moss was cloaking the drystone wall on our right. The sun was low in the sky and we were somewhat blinded by it as we walked up the track. We continued along a clear path, passing below a farmhouse high on the hillside on our left. Beneath our feet was a clear, close-cropped green swarth. The gradient had decreased and tumbledown walls on either side guided our way. We were fortunate to have far reaching views in continuing sunshine. On the top of Kisdon Hill, sheep were dotted around, happily grazing.

Corpse Road - Kisdon Hill
We passed a memorial stone in a wall up here. It was a truly beautiful spot. The green swarth soon turned into a made track, and signs exhorted the walker to stick to it. Down below, the picturesque village of Muker nestled in the walled, pastured valley. Being holiday time, there were plenty of walkers about.
Muker - from Kisdon Hill
Breaking with our now customary tradition of eschewing all alcohol until the walk is over, we allowed ourselves to sample the best on offer at the hostelry. An open fire and a flagged floor was very welcoming.

A footpath, from the back of the village started from a stone 'squeeze' stile characteristic of upper Swaledale. The stone slabbed path passed through hay meadows , farmed in the traditional way. In June, these fields are ablaze with all manner of wild flowers and grasses, but these had long since been harvested. Walkers were reminded to stick to the footpath to protect the meadows that provide a valuable habitat for wildlife and winter fodder for livestock. Several gated stiles needed to be negotiated along this section of the walk.

Ramps Holme Bridge
We crossed the narrow Ramps Holme Bridge. (No cycling!) and turned left. From here, it was a level, broad walk much favoured for an easy stroll. We found a good stone to sit on and broke open the packed lunch. The sound of the Swale was soporiphic. Had it been a glorious summer day, it would have been a fabulous spot to linger a while. As it was, it was quite cool, so it was good to get moving again.

We continued along the flat path until we came to an enclosed area of fellside. Just beyond it, a clear, narrow path was climbing up the hillside. We took it to head up Swinner Gill. It was rather sticky and slippery in places. Before long, the path headed down towards the gill. Some good sized rocks enabled us to cross it easily. The path up the hillside was clear. Although there were some rocks to negotiate, the main difficulty in this path was the stickiness. At one point, there had clearly been a land slip following rain. The path was all but washed away, but we rejoined terra firma with care. The steepness of the fellside abutting Swinner Gill didn't seem to trouble the munching sheep.

Swinner Gill
Eventually, we came to the waterfalls an derelict mine buildings at the head of the gill. A signpost pointed us in the direction of Keld. The path took us back along the same side of the gill, only further up the hillside. The path was in better condition here. We came across the area of the fellside where there had been slippage. Stone steps had been sited to reinstate the footpath. Works had been completed recently, as they had not been done in September when we had last walked this way. It wasn't long before we reached a gate and a broad track. It was all down hill from here. (Well almost)

We passed a derelict farmhouse and the tumbledown Crackpot Hall, which seems to be more decrepid with each visit. Our way was clear and marked with the remnants of bits of farm machinery... an axle... a tractor. A gate brought us to the beautiful Keld waterfalls. 
Waterfall - Keld
With the trees denuded of most of their leaves, we were able to get a wonderful view of the falls which we had not had before. A footbridge enabled us to cross the river and we took the stony footpath up to the right and into the centre of Keld.

The rain had managed to stay away and it had been a lovely gentle walk. It's amazing how a familiar walk can provide something new on every visit. Unfortunately, we'd missed the glories of the wild flowers in the hay meadows earlier this year, but it was still lovely on an autumn day.



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