Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Wet Afternoon In Upper Swaledale

Two weeks ago, I had my monthly(ish) trip back up to the real Yorkshire - otherwise known as 'North Yorkshire' and finally got to do the walk around Keld, starting from Muker. This walk has something for everyone - starting with the meadows around Muker, up the young river Swale, through dense woodland, past plenty of waterfalls, up to the views from high over the valley and taking in some of the remains of the mining at the spectacular Swinner Gill. Nothing can ruin it, not even downpour after downpour - although that definitely makes photography a wee bit more tricky.

Anyway, I'll start with this photo from half way around the walk (mainly as then, on the truncated post on the homepage of my blog, this will be the one that shows up...)

photograph of swaledale in yorkshire. Sunlight over the valley
Panoramic shot of the light over Swaledale as one of the showers cleared east, perfect timing as it happened at my favourite point, over my favourite view.

When we first set off on the walk, we knew heavy showers were forecast - but so far we hadn't seen any sign of them, with the sun shining throughout the drive up Swaledale. After parking in the surprisingly empty (for a Saturday afternoon) carpark at Muker we set off towards the meadows, hoping to catch the end of the flower season... which we just about did! It was here that we saw the first signs that rain was around, quite noticeable by the wet paving...

Path between Muker and Keld in Swaledale, Yorkshire
The view back to Muker
Wildflowers in a meadow in the yorkshire dales, swaledale
The remaining flowers in the meadows
Wildflower meadows in Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales countryside.
Toward Keld, with Kisdon Hill on the left

After these ever so colourful meadows, you have to climb around a muddy section of the river and onto the farmland higher up the valley. This is where you get the first sight of Swinner Gill across the river, part of the walk back - and also where you start to notice the clouds building...

Swaledale barn and Swinner Gill in the distance
Next is the climb up the side of Kisdon Hill, which takes you up away from the river Swale and some of the waterfalls (which are hard enough to get to in nice weather, never mind when it's as muddy as this) and into the woodland section of the walk.

Very... green.
As you can see, the rain had finally found us by this point... and most of the trees did little to help. However, we did find one particularly thick tree to have a break and eat our dinner under. Probably the most soggy I'll ever be whilst enjoying egg sandwich and crisps... We soon set off again for the final little part of the walk toward Keld (although we technically never made it to Keld, as the lure of East Gill and the waterfalls was too strong...).

East Gill Force, Swaledale, Keld. Waterfall in the Yorkshire Dales
East Gill Force. This was my favourite waterfall as a child (yes, you can have a favourite!) so it is always very nice to get back there.
Fortunately, the rain stopped for all of 10 minutes here, allowing me to get my camera out for a few quick shots of the falls. Still, it was very scary scrambling down the muddy embankment and wading through the bogs to reach the falls with all my expensive gear. As I was taking this photo, the heavens well and truly opened on us and it continued to pour down on us until just before we reached Crackpot Hall - hence the lack of photos for this section of the walk.

 A few hundred metres before Crackpot, we could see the end of the shower and the light chasing in behind, so obviously I then had a race on my hands. Determined to make it up high enough to take in the view as the sun broke over the valley I had a good run through the pouring rain, camera half covered in my coat, tripod fully extended, past all the other bemused walkers... and made it just, just in time to wipe my lens clean and take the photo at the top of this post. I think that made the effort quite worthwhile - and I hope you all agree!
I then took these...
View down the valley.
View back up towards Keld, if you look carefully you can pick out the other 3 people I dragged on this walk... 
Here we had another short dry spell for the walk down to the bottom of Swinner Gill... allowing me to get a couple of photos of the waterfall at the bottom, before the clouds on the above picture caught up with us and, once again, gave us another good soaking.

Waterfall at the bottom of Swinner Gill, Swaledale
Waterfall at bottom of Swinner Gill
This meant the camera had to go away again, so these last few photos come from the meadows around Muker again - where the path back joins onto the same path as we set off out on. It was nice to end the day in some sun, just as we had started it in these always lovely fields. Here you hardly have to think, just point your camera, press down the shutter, and get a wonderful photo.

swaledale yorkshire dales national park
Sunlight over Kisdon Hill, and a very wet path/wall.
Puddles to be jumped in, by Keri...
I love this bendy wall, quite unusual.
So that was our walk from that wet weekend. But, as I said before, no amount of rain could ever ruin this place.


  1. Really nice photos Mat. That's one of my favourite walks too. I've seen it in all seasons and all weather, and it's always beautiful.

    Have you been down to Kisdon foss? That's always worth seeing.

    1. Cheers Guy, glad you came and had a look! I spent almost an hour the other day on your blog, still have the tab open waiting to be looked at more in fact.

      I've never been down to Kisdon, and it is probably (oddly) one of my biggest goals in life. For someone who loves hills, I'm somewhat uncomfortable with heights and especially since the two times I've been in the last year it's been raining it has made it pretty inaccessible for me - which is unbelievable considering it's relative fame as a waterfall!