IN the northern Dale of Swaledale lies a pretty village set around a large green, surrounded on all sides by high moors with an interesting history and excellent walking. This walk heads south from Reeth.

Reeth has a huge village green with a set of impressive 18th and 19th century houses on its west side.

To the north lies Arkengarthdale, a lovely valley devastated by the floods in 2019, but we are heading across the River Swale to the south.

Walk past the National Park centre into small Anvil Square and take the footpath signed ‘To the River’.

Turn right on to a lane heading west before turning left and heading towards the river.

The path veers right as it closes in on the river and reaches a suspension bridge. It was built in 1920, washed away in 2000 and rebuilt in the same style.

Over the river it is possible to turn right and follow the riverbank but the right of way (footpath/bridleway) is a few metres up the hillside. Turn right and return to the riverside and follow the path for half a mile to a farm opposite an arc of stepping stones on the river.

Head through the farm buildings and climb to a road.

Turn left for 100m on the road and take the signed footpath opposite (it is a legal right that when a footpath leaves a road that there is a sign). This heads uphill towards a large bush, the site of Maiden Castle. The grand name masks what is in reality the earth remains of an Iron Age fort, well preserved none the less.

From the south west corner of the fort take the path heading just south of west for half a mile. To the left are the spoilheaps of Harker Lead Mine, the first of a series of reminders that this landscape was once a busy, thriving industrial community.

The industrial remains of Swaledale give the area its own distinctive character. Before reaching Browning Gill there are a couple of paths/tracks heading south up the hillside, meeting either at or near a shooting hut. Turn left on to a wide land rover track which heads east across the high plateau of Harker Hill.

The views over Reeth into Arkengarthdale and beyond are excellent, it is a high airy panorama.

It is perfectly possible to follow the land rover track for two miles till it meets a road, however after one-and-a-half miles there are a couple of tracks that cut the corner. We are heading for the Grinton Tower and Youth Hostel and one path keeping to the north of Grinton Gill is particularly pleasant and avoids some later road walking. This path arrives to the north of the lodge and it is only a few minutes’ walk into Grinton village.

Pop in to look around the impressive St Andrew’s Church, probably the best in Swaledale, before crossing the road bridge.

A path on your left avoids much of the road and crosses some fields and the banks of the River Arkle.

When it meets the road it is only a few minutes stroll to Reeth and its cafes and pubs.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly seven miles

Height Climbed: 320m (1050 feet)

Start: SE 038993. Parking on or around Reeth Green.

Difficulty: Medium. Too many paths rather than too few confuse a little near the river and there is a climb on to the moors but this is generally a straightforward walk.

Refreshments: Reeth has a choice of pubs. There are two cafes but they may be on winter hours.

Be Prepared:

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 30) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors.