We did an eleven mile walk today, from Gunnerside to Keld and Thwaite and back, and it turned out to be one of the best walks we’ve ever done.
We set off at the usual time, about nine or ten o’clock, and set off towards the bridge along the Gunnerside-Thwaite road. I was having difficulty with my feet – yesterday’s walk had given me a blister on my left foot which I covered with a plaster – and my feet felt extremely uncomfortable at first.
We walked along the river bank and along field paths to Muker, which is about two miles, pausing at the wooden bridge across the Swale before starting the walk proper. We continued up the valley, by landscapes which were very similar to those up Gunnerside Gill; very rocky and sparse, with many old derelict buildings around.
We continued on, Andrew and I pausing to climb Beldi Hill, near Keld, and watch for a feral cat which was living in a barn. Eventually, we came upon Keld, a bleak and unfriendly place which didn’t seem like normal Swaledale villages like Muker or Gunnerside, and we sat by Kisdon Force.
It was here that we got lost, which is nothing new on our hikes. Instead of taking the path along the road towards Muker and Thwaite we had followed a path back up the valley opposite Crackpot Hall, and found ourselves in a totally wrong position. Thanks to Andrew though, we soon were right again and followed the path up the hillside past a field where we saw a Kestrel being mobbed by Swallows, and on to Kisdon Hill. It was very windy here, and quite cold unless you kept moving. The path continued on between old limestone walls and over the hill to the valley head, where you were given an ace view right across the Swale valley and Muker.
We then dropped down into Thwaite, where we received sneering looks from several bearded, masochistic Pennine way-types who probably thought we were just playing at hiking. We had a cup of tea outside a café before trudging on across the fields and along the road to Muker.
Compared to Gunnerside, Muker is much better-looking, more picture-postcardy. We looked round the Church before setting off once more to the wooden bridge at the foot of the valley where we stopped earlier. Here we had our teas and by now it was pretty cold.
Retracing our steps, we walked through several fields before reaching a footpath sign for Ivelet Bridge which swung off to the right, and it was this we followed for about half-a-mile through the darkening fields before reaching the Bridge. It was fantastic – a single span arch about thirty feet across. Andrew took several pictures here and we then wandered home along the field paths back to Gunnerside.