From Reeth to Maiden Castle and Grinton

It is yet another misty autumnal morning with the sun doing it’s best to break through. It is also another day when I have to do some work before we head off. This is becoming a regular feature of our touring this year, but sitting in the awning working beats commuting to London any day of the week!

When we drove through Reeth a couple of days ago we agreed that it was a place we should visit. So we take the short drive up Swaledale and park on the green in the centre of the village.

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We leave the green in a south-westerly direction via a footpath, signposted to the river, going by the side of the National Park Information Centre. At the end of the lane we turn left and then right into a walled lane that passes a doctor’s surgery and a children’s playground. At the end of this lane we follow a path downhill towards the river.

Unlike the days earlier in the week the mist has not cleared. There is the odd shaft of sunlight but the hilltops are not clearly visible. We follow the path until we reach a suspension bridge. There is an information board showing that the original bridge here was built in 1920 to link the parishes of Reeth and Grinton, in September 2000 the bridge was badly damaged and as a consequence was rebuilt in 2002.

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Over the bridge we carry straight on walking away from the river, then at a crossing of footpaths turn right to walk with a wall to our left. We then go through a gate and follow the path to join the banks of the River Swale. Soon we reach stepping-stones, Lynnie decides to wander on to the stones, but we are not crossing here.

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Our route continues along the riverbank crossing stiles to reach a fingerpost where we climb away from the riverbank.

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As we walk below Stubbin Farm we get views back across the Dale, despite the poor visibility we get the chance to appreciate a typical Dales view.

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We continue through a gate and up to tarmac road. This leads steadily up hill; our walking guide tells us that we should be enjoying sweeping views across Swaledale to Calver Hill and Fremington Edge on the opposite side. We can only see mist.

We ignore the first bridleway on our right and at the second ignore the route signed to Castle Bolton, but instead take a footpath up the hill climbing towards trees on the skyline. This brings us to Maiden Castle.

This Bronze Age castle is 70 metres across with a rampart and a bridge and some outstanding earthworks. I find such sites fascinating. To think that the ground where you are stood was inhabited thousands of years ago. This must have been a bleak spot to establish dwellings; even on this mild autumn day there is a nip to the breeze.

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We explore this evocative castle for a while to get a feel for the place and landscape before walking away on a path towards the west, eventually joining a track. We turn left and walk uphill, after a while we stop for a well earned breather and picnic, this should be a fine viewpoint, but today the outlook is obscured by mist, which appears to be getting thicker.

Refreshed we continue on upwards and as we near a shooting lodge the track forks and we go left to continue on a clear route across the open moor. The colourful heathers studded with the occasional grouse make up for the lack of panoramic views.

The reduced visibility may be denying us the promised fine views, but it is still clear enough to navigate our way easily. The track eventually descends to a stream, we cross and go through a gate on the opposite side to follow a track that leads to a road.

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We turn left and follow the road as it descends down into Grinton. On reaching the village church we stop for a look. St Andrew’s church is often referred to as the Cathedral of the Dales as for many centuries it was the main church for the whole of Swaledale. Bodies would be carried here, for burial, from Keld, 16 miles away!

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We leave the churchyard by a gate at the rear of the church and turn left along the riverbank to a flight of steps. On reaching the road we turn right. After about a quarter of a mile we turn right onto a bridleway and follow this across pastures with Reeth on the opposite side of the river. On reaching the suspension bridge we cross and retrace our steps back to the centre of Reeth.

Even with the views limited by the mist it has been a cracking walk of about eight and half miles. As we usually find it has been very quiet and we have only bumped into a handful of people. Reeth is packed with cars and folk popping into the pubs and cafes, I am sure they are enjoying themselves, but I can’t help thinking that there is so much more to be enjoyed with just a little effort.

3rd October 2015

[To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure OL 30 – Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central areas]

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2015)

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