UPPER Swaledale may be difficult to get at but a walk here brings together all that is very best of the Dales; rivers, rolling hills, exquisite little villages and a sense of history. It is not overly long but in this weather a perfect place to dawdle and enjoy.

The walk starts in the village of Thwaite (norse word meaning clearing or meadow), near the Kearton Country Hotel and tea rooms. Thwaite is a lovely village, beautiful stone cottages clustered together, very welcoming in the summer sun. A series of footpaths leaves the east end of the village, take the one heading diagonally uphill in a north easterly direction, crossing a small river initially. You’re now on the steep slopes of Kisdon Hill, unusual for this part of the Dales as it stands in in splendid isolation from surrounding moors.

To climb involves an initial pull up to the stone barns of Kisdon Farm, perched half-way up the fell. The stone barns of Kisdon are another of its most attractive features, many still used for storing winter feed. On entering a lane with stone walls on each side leave the Pennine Way and take the first left footpath you come to, heading directly uphill. This is the hardest part of the day, nearly 400 feet of climbing. The path flattens out after 300 feet as it arrives at the summit area, the deep sides meaning the views across to the surrounding moors being very impressive. Or those who like ticking the highest point, Kisdon Hill summit lies nearly half a mile to the north. Follow the stone wall to its summit cairn (ignore a path heading in the correct direction before meeting the wall) and return the same way.

Back on the bridlepath follow the path north as it skirts the west flanks of the hill, dropping steadily to the road south of Keld. Enter Keld, which has a pleasant outside café, and is another attractive village made with Yorkshire stone. It is probably best well known as the crossing place of the Coast to Coast and Pennine Way long distance routes so many walkers are very familiar with place. It’s lovely in at all times but particularly welcoming as you stagger in after a hard day on the wild moors that surround the village on all sides.

From Keld the walk changes complexion. From now it’s all about the upper reaches of the River Swale. Head out of Keld to the south east on a farm track opposite the café. After 200 metres a path cuts left through the trees down to a bridge over the river. Take this rather than continue on the more obvious Pennine Way. After crossing the river join a main track that now skirts the hillside and offering some wonderful views down to the river valley and across to Kisdon Hill. In addition there is a splendid waterfall at Kisdon Force and a derelict building called Crackpot Hall. The hall has a checkered history as a shooting lodge, mining office and the setting for a 1930s play about a wild four-year-old girl called Alice. From the hall the track turns gradually south and drops down to the valley floor. There’s a lovely patch of woodland and a fine mile of riverside walking to enjoy before a bridge to your right crosses the river and returns to the village of Muker through some glorious hay meadows. Muker is the third fine village of the walk, take your time to look around. A path to the west end of Muker leads the one mile back to Thwaite. A walk that really does have everything.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 7.5 miles (including one mile to Kisdon Hill summit). Height to climb: 410m (1,350 feet)

Start: SD 892982. There’s some layby parking on the main road just outside Thwaite. Difficulty: Medium/Hard.

Refreshments: The Kearton Country Hotel and Tearooms are very good and there are cafes in Keld and Muker.