Day 8: Keld to Reeth

This was a shorter day, but the terrain was interesting and at times quite arduous. There is a low level alternative along the valley of the River Swale.

The River Swale at Keld

The River Swale at Keld

We decided on the high level moorland route to Reeth along tracks made by miners two centuries ago and now enhanced by the grouse shooting business.

Old mining tracks enhanced by the more recent grouse shooting business

Old mining tracks enhanced by the more recent grouse shooting business

The weather was dull, cool and drizzly when we left Keld at 09:00, but it soon improved and remained dry and became warm with sunny spells.

We left Keld on a pretty path past Kidson Force.

Kidson Force

Kidson Force

The path immediately climbs and heads deep into the moors at Swinner Gill. The walk passes through a graveyard of industrial relics the first being the sad ruins at Crackpot Hall which were abandoned due to mining subsidence. Swaledale has a long history of mining. Most mines were opened in the seventeenth century but there were mines here before that and it is known that the Romans extracted lead here.

The track ascends East Grain which is a steep climb beside the beck until the path emerges at the top of the moor. This is now a shooting moor and the track well serviced with access from the east. There are far reaching views across the moors with the dark shape of the North Yorkshire moors in the far distance.

There are relics of lead mining all along this walk and there are graphic scenes of industrial decay everywhere. The gills, fell sides and summits have been ripped apart. Shafts and levels pierce the earth. There is stone litter everywhere. The skeletons of abandoned and derelict buildings stand gaunt and grey amongst the chaos of spoil heaps.

Industrial decay all along this walk

Industrial decay all along this walk

After an easy walk across the top of the moor the path descends to the old mine workings and smelt mines of Blakethwaite.

Here the beck is crossed by a huge stone slab to a cloister like ruin with fine arches.

Huge stone slab crossing the beck

Huge stone slab crossing the beck

Cloister like ruin with fine arches

Cloister like ruin with fine arches

The route climbs up the steep hillside to another track enhanced for vehicles to do with the grouse shooting business.

We made rapid progress down the access roadway and caught a glimpse of the Cleveland Hills far ahead.

We passed through Old Gang Smelt mine. Here is the official 100 mile mark of C2C west to east, although we passed it earlier due to extra mileage in Lakeland.

Old Gang smelt mines

Old Gang smelt mines

We reached Surrender Bridge and were pleased to be off the roadway and back on a moorland path. We dropped into a deep ravine, Cringley Bottom, and sat in the sun for a while before the steep climb out onto the moor again and an enjoyable high level path with excellent views above the Swale, before descending into Reeth.

Reeth is the capital of Upper Swaledale and occupies a position on an open hillside overlooking the confluence of the Arkle Beck and the River Swale. It was a boom town in the mining years but when the mining finished, tourism took over. It is a fine town, very well preserved, with stone buildings forming a square around a large green. The sun was shining and the sky was blue so we had ice cream!

Reeth

Reeth

19km with 600m of elevation.

The GPX file for the route that we followed is here.

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