Coast to Coast: Day 7 – Keld to Reeth

(21st March 2013 – 11½ miles)

Pinching myself and knocking my head against the bedroom wall made no difference.  The morning sky was still cloudless, still wonderfully blue.

Swaledale-01

It had taken a while but at long last I remembered why I love walking in late winter/early spring.

Swaledale-02

I stepped outside to take some deep breaths, to grin and whirl about a bit.  Then, after a hearty breakfast and bidding Matt, the manager, a fond farewell, I hoisted my rucksack and walked though a quiet and deserted Keld.

Keld

None of the 18 souls (or dogs) were about as I passed through the village and I found it difficult to imagine that during the 1800’s (at the height of lead-mining in Swaledale) Keld’s population was 6000.   (You’ll want to make a note that ‘Keld’ comes from the Viking word for a spring – Kelda).

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Beyond the last house, the C2C briefly joins the Pennine Way, before striking off eastward along the Swale.

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Looking back at Keld with Keld Lodge on the far left.

I had been smitten by Keld

Keld-in-Swaledale

and as I plodded away (followed by a long line of sheep – I don’t know why), I stopped and gazed back and wondered when, or even if, I might visit again.

Swaledale-03

I ambled high above the Swale

Upper-Swaledale

relishing the alpine air and views.

Swaledale-in-snow

Soon I was crunching through snow and squinting against the bright reflected sunshine.  Heck, I even put on my shades.

Upper-Swaledale-02

You’ll forgive me a splurge of snowy photos

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but I wouldn’t see blue skies and sunlight like this for the rest of the trip.

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Soon the path diverged: on the left the ‘proper’ Wainwright route climbed up towards old mine workings and ruins and, as I’m not a fan of industrial archaeology, I happily left that sight to another time.

Upper-Swaledale-03

Upper Swaledale

To the right, the path dropped to follow the river bank most of the way to Reeth.  I had already decided to finally have my easy, rest day and eagerly chose the latter.

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After catching some rare rays,

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and savouring the moment,

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I descended to join the river.  (Immediately after I took this photo, an RAF fighter screamed close overhead.  It was long gone by the time my heart restarted and I thought to raise my camera).

Muker

On the far bank lay the pretty, little town of Muker (a favourite of James Herriot).  It was a shame that I was too early for lunch at ‘The Farmer’s Arms’ – supposedly excellent.

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This was simple, non-strenuous walking with plenty of time to stop, look around and fiddle with my camera.  I had made no specific plans to meet Pat today – we just thought that we would bump into one another.  As it turned out, we didn’t and I walked solo all the way to Reeth.

Dippers-Swaledale

Like the River Wharfe (which I walked beside on the Dales Way),

Dipper-swaledale

the Swale is home to dippers;

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and today at least spring flowers weren’t hidden by snow.

Squeeze-stile-Swaledale

There were plenty of squeeze stiles – which did just that to me and my rucksack.

Gunnerside

At lunch time, I approached Gunnerside where I had planned to stop at ‘The King’s Head.’

King's Head-Gunnerside

But Matt had warned me that the pub had closed; and quite possibly for good.  The denial of a pint by an open fire made me sad.

Swaledale-04

Swaledale

After Gunnerside, this so-called low-level route

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climbed steeply back up to the moors.

Swaledale-in-winter

But the views back up the dale were

Swaledale-05

worth the panting effort.

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By mid afternoon, the path dipped back down to the river

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for the final leg into Reeth.  I had booked into ‘The Manse one of my favourite B&B’s of the trip.  It hadn’t been open long but had already collected some great reviews.  They were well deserved – I recommend it.

That evening, I sat with Pat and Sue before a log fire at the ‘The Buck Hotel’ for pizza, beer and chat. Though I enjoy walking by myself (and don’t even mind my own company, really), I was grateful for friendly faces, laughter and the chance to swap stories of the day’s walk.   Pat and I planned to  walk together the following day.  The path to Richmond would be another short day (12½ miles) but bad weather would return and the going would be harder and far less pleasant.

I’d had my moment in the sun.

6 thoughts on “Coast to Coast: Day 7 – Keld to Reeth

  1. Well, I’m glad you had one moment in the sun to enjoy, at any rate. What a lovely, blue-sky day. It’s funny how a village can get under your skin in just one night — I feel that way about a couple of places in Newfoundland, too, and if it were at all realistic would gladly make long, expensive trips just to stay there on special occasions.

    Your reputation as a rescuer of fallen sheep must have preceded you. Either that, or the superhero cape gave it away.

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    • But Stacy, you can’t be trusted to return to those lovely little Newfoundland towns. Goodness only knows with what design you might return. (There was no such provision in Keld – at least that I know of). And good grief – you’re right! The cape! I’d forgotten the cape! Explains all. Dave

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