Home » Travel » Britain » A Swaledale walk – Keld to Muker river circular

A wonderful circular walk of approximately 6 miles in one of Britain’s most beautiful valleys, Swaledale. I find it to be one of the quieter Yorkshire valleys, away from the more tourist trapping central parts.

However those that venture into it will agree it is full of magnificent scenery, from river and beck to waterfalls, from grand peak tops to valley floors covered in meadow. It has a very untouched with time feel, even when going through the villages within.

Why, even when coming from the more southern dales you can enter Swaledale with a most scenic route over Buttertubs Pass northwards from Wensleydale.

view over Swaledale

This walk from Keld to Muker overlooking down to the river, then returning to Keld by the river will give a perfect all round experience in one day here. A walk that has wondrous scene beyond wondrous scene. You can do the walk of course starting at either end but personally I like to start in the little village of Keld and head downriver along the Pennine Way section, where you climb steadily upwards with the river down at the bottom to your left and the expanse of the valley opening up in front of you.

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looking over to muker, Swaledale

You will find yourself stopping regularly to take it all in, even looking back along the valley from where you came.

looking back to keld

There are so many spots to sit to wonder and reflect. Not a day for rushing at all. Take your time and enjoy all that is on offer for the senses. Summer can be so green but I can assure you that whatever season you find yourself here in, the beautiful magic of Swaledale remains.

yorkshire dales valley of green

The 3 miles towards Muker takes you basically along a scar half way up Kisdon Hill. After a couple of miles the valley widens and you get sight of the village of Muker that you will drop down into. Look forward to an ice-cream break.

looking down on Muker village
the path to Muker, Swaledale

Descending into Muker you get the sight of the many barns and meadow fields that will take you to the river. If you come when Summer is in full bloom you will find these fields absolutely full of colour from the hay and wild flowers. Swallows flying all about, swooping in and out of the barns. The path through is strictly single file to preserve it.

Swaledale meadows and barns
swaledale barn
swaledale meadows path

This meadow path leads you back to the river and to more variety. Now you get to follow the river, on the opposite side, back to Keld, and more closely too. A chance to experience the valley from within. Over the bridge first with yet more stunning views!

bridge near muker
The River Swale

After a mile or so is another super picnic spot. At Swinner Gill you can sit away from the path beside the waterfall beneath the trees in the shade.

Swinner Gill waterfall

And the view out back down the valley is none too shabby either!

view back to muker

A mile or 2 to go from here, wandering up and down beside waterfalls as in the top image of this post or quirky landscape views with even an odd bit of agriculture machinery abandoned into the landscape.

rusting tractor

Lots of variety, lots fresh air, lots of views. Every minute, every step a joy here. This walk of course can be done in reverse from Muker to Keld return, or even just doing one way for those just wanting to do 3 miles or so. Please check local timetables for there is a minibus service running up and down the valley, The Little White Bus service. Enjoy

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10 thoughts on “A Swaledale walk – Keld to Muker river circular”

  1. Great photos Paul! It’s lovely that you are showcasing this fab walk. It maybe worth noting that if people take a circa 75 metre uphill detour left at the buried tractor (track featured in your machinary photograph) that you come to ‘Crackpot Hall’ – Abandoned lead mine buildings, which is full of history, the buildings still has the old fire place, the views from Crackpot hall is also truley stunning.

    1. Hi! Thank you yes I took the detour and after going through the pics I realised I wanted to come back and do a post just on that as a part 2.. The pastures in spring too 🙂

  2. I did this walk last May. Looking at your gorgeous photos brings me back there instantly – thanks Paul!
    I get a lot of inspiration for places to visit by looking at your photos and reading the descriptions.

  3. Fabulous photos Paul….I was lucky enough to live in Muker and have this as my back garden for 15 years with your route being my old Springer Spaniel’s favourite walk.

  4. Love this site so much, really highlights what a beautiful country we have. Really stunning photos!

  5. Stephanie Burgess

    I really enjoyed reading this and looking at the stunning photos you’ve taken. I visited this part of Yorkshire thirty years ago and now long to revisit :))

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