Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Wainwright's Coast to Coast - Day 9

To better enjoy the photos, please click on them to increase there size.

Sunday 20 September, 2015

Keld to Reeth - 21 kms
                          7 hours walking

Having read many of James Herriot's Vet books and watched copious episodes of 'All Creatures Great and Small', I was super excited to be finally in Herriot country. There were 2 routes to choose from. The higher route takes you through a part of Yorkshire that has forever been scarred by the activities of lead mining. In fact, lead mining goes back as far as the Roman times, but it was the industrial revolution that saw the rapid growth of mines throughout this area. Wainwright describes this trail as 'a grim trek amongst the debris of a dead industry,' so it wasn't difficult to choose our route for the day.

The lower route took us along the picturesque Swaledale Valley. It was to be a beautiful 'stroll' along the banks of the Swale River, but again, lack of signage saw us choosing a path that inevitably took us above, rather than along the river. The views were glorious, but the grey skies didn't make for good photography.

Our bunkhouse accommodation was a couple of kilometres outside sleepy Keld. Departing at 8.30 we walked along the sealed road into the village. Here the road dropped rapidly to the banks of the Swale, where we found a lovely wooden bridge to cross. A short distance on we were walking beside the cascading East Gill and delighting in its pretty waterfall.

Looking back toThe Bunkhouse nestling beside the Swale and woodland.

Lazy sheep dining on the lush green grass.
First of many tranquil, country scenes of the day.

Looking down on the rooftops of Keld.
A rather sizable inhabitant of Keld.

                East Gill Force

High above the narrow, upper Swale valley.

                 Rabbits aplenty.
         Adit to a lead mine.
We regularly spotted pheasants.
                 Hints of autumn

We could see the village of Muker. We had read it was a special village to visit, not least of all for its coffee shop. We yet again cursed the poor signage of the C2C, as our path took us away from and not
to Muker.

We contented ourselves with the thought that the coffee in the next village of Ivelet, would be just as special and delighted in these fine views.

Sadly, all we found at Ivelet, other than houses, was a red phone box and espalier apple trees.

The valley widened and just when we really thought the trail would take us along the banks of the Swale, we yet again climbed.

Gunnerside was the next village and by this time our tongues were hanging out for a coffee. Any coffee would do, as we had been talking about it for so long. First of all we had to manoeuvre 
ourselves through yet another stile. This was our narrowest yet. Narrower at the bottom, it took a super effort to force oneself through, hoisting the pack high so that it didn't become wedged.

Once we had conquered the stile, we were immediately impressed by the gardens and hanging baskets of the village.

We crossed the small bridge in the background of the photo below, and discovered the Kings Head Pub was opening at midday, just 15 minutes to wait. Tables and benches were arrayed outside, so we sat down and nibbled on snacks to await the opening of the doors. Well the doors opened early, but it wasn't to welcome us, but to berate us for using their tables, without their food. We tried to explain that we were filling in time until we could make purchases, but that had no effect, so we moved on.

Not far away was Ghyllfoot Tea Room. Luck was not on our side today. The Proprietors were in Spain for 2 weeks. At least they didn't shoo us away, when we sat at their wooden table, nibbling on our low supplies and admiring their sensational, tuberous begonias. These weren't the only ones on view.

Later on the sun broke through the grey clouds, to give us a brief glimpse of the splendour of this valley, if viewed on a sunny day.
More climbing.........
to Melbecks high moor. The wind sweeping up from the valley, soon had us putting an extra layer of clothing on.

I was constantly amazed by the unexpected mixture of heather and farmland.

From the moor we dropped down to a road for a couple of kilometres of walking under the canopy of trees. We were quite impressed with these bovine specimens.

Finally we were hiking beside the Swale, for the last half hour of the journey. Bliss!

Reeth is a lovely village sat around a large green and The Buck was another of your typical English pubs. So much character, comfortable beds and great food.
Most of our walking friends were booked here for the night. After dining, Margot Gail and I visited the Black Bull [same name as Kirkby Stepehen's] for a nightcap. It was very quiet here and somehow we managed to get into conversation with a psychic, with incredible powers to have the spirits of famous people visit those at his meetings. It took us quite some time to extricate ourselves. On our return to The Buck, a 2 piece band had our friends, dancing, clapping and totally enjoying themselves.  A great night was had by all.

Yes, you have seen this photo before. A mistake was made in Kirkby Stephen and has been rectified.

I wonder if you too loved James Herriot's books and the series all Creatures Great and Small. So wonderful to visit. Imagine treating those huge bulls! Hope you have enjoyed the day. I would love to read your comment.


  1. Such lovely countryside! And yes, I've read James Herriot's books and loved them too. Too bad about missing out on coffee along the way, but at least you stayed in a fun place for the evening.

  2. As with your others, this post was most enjoyable. I loved the shot of the bull with the two buildings in the background.

  3. I don't know the books but I loved going on your walk. The lack of cafés reminds me of our cycling in France. It's always better to take your know but we never remember!