Walk: Muker, Keld & Kisdon

This walk takes in Muker, Upper Swaledale, Crackpot Hall, Keld and Kisdon.

The Route

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Walk Description

Muker is a lovely village in Upper Swaledale, a jumble of stone cottages and a great country pub, all set amongst magnificent fells and valleys.

The finest hay-meadows in the Yorkshire Dales, arguably in England, can be found around the lovely village of Muker in late spring. Here, the small fields along the flat valley floor are a mass of bright yellows, blues, reds and whites. Buttercup, forget-me-not, cow parsley, clover, common bird’s-foot trefoil, meadow cranesbill to name just a handful. Cut later than normal to allow the wild flowers and grasses time to seed, these meadows are fiercely protected. Please keep to the footpath and under no circumstances pick any of the wild flowers. Interestingly, the word ‘muker’ means ‘meadows’ in Old Norse – named by the Viking settlers who came here over 1,000 years ago. 

This walk encapsulates the Yorkshire Dales with hay meadows, riverside walks, field walls and barns, woodland, waterfalls, windswept summits and superb views. Field-paths lead up through the deep U-shaped valley of Swaledale into a narrow wooded gorge near Keld with numerous waterfalls all around, in particular Catrake Force, Kisdon Force and East Stonesdale Force; ‘keld’ means ‘springs’ in Old Norse.

From the hamlet of Keld, our route follows a superb track up over Kisdon Hill with breath-taking views across Swaledale towards the high fells of Lovely Seat and Great Shunner Fell.

The final descent is a fitting end to this walk with the deep valley of Swaledale gently curving away into the distance and the grey rooftops of Muker nestling in the valley below. This track across Kisdon Hill once formed part of the ancient ‘Corpse Way’. Before the church was built at Muker during the reign of Elizabeth I, mourners had to carry their deceased relatives to the nearest burial ground at Grinton, a journey that is believed to have stemmed from Norse mythology – it mirrored the journey of the soul from earth to the next life. 

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