We felt it was time to plan a walk in Swaledale not having been for quite a few months. From Reeth seemed to be the easiest and so on a fine morning we parked our car on the parking area (Voluntary Donations £1 half a day £2 full day) and set off down the village. There is a little footpath that follows Arkle Beck to the bridge at the bottom but we saved that pleasure for the return journey.
Our walk was a bit of a complicated route and never having walked any of the footpaths really needed my brilliant OS Maps for the GPS and the paper map for the bigger picture, take note! About seven and a half miles, some tricky little hills, moorland, pastureland, lovely views but please, please be aware that you can only do this walk after a good dry spell. I knew there were stepping stones to cross the River Swale but omitted to see a little stream on the map where there was no foot bridge. This stream looked so innocent as we crossed it but we could see how gouged out it had become by the flash floods a couple of years ago and what a raging torrent that must have been to do all that damage!
Once at Reeth Bridge (OS X Eastings 404137OS Y Northings 499187) walk along the footpath on the right hand side of the road to the first gated stile. Through here and continue along to Grinton Bridge, turn right over the bridge, past the church, bear right up the hill, ignore the lovely new stile with foot bridge and continue up the hill. Keep a very sharp look out for the next stile, by a gate, hidden in the bushes! Take this and follow the footpath, turn right, south, where the footpaths converge, follow to the barn but do not go through the footpath you can see on your right but cut diagonally across the field, keep going up hill, past the corner of the walls and soon the next stile comes into view. Keep going following the stiles coming eventually to where you will be able to see the stream (OS X Eastings 405007 OS Y Northings 497679) and where you can make your decision as to whether you can cross or not.
Once over the stream, if over the stream, climb up through the bracken and shrub diagonally, south east, there is just a footpath there in the undergrowth. Soon the next stile comes into view. Over here and keeping the wall on your left, eventually coming to another stile. We found on the left here quad bike tracks to follow which was much easier than going through the reeds and heather to take us round to Bleaberry Hill, then on to where it says Sheepfold on the map. Here there is a gate off to the left, through here (the little buildings on the map are long gone and just a heap of stones now) follow the track down to a metal gate where Hags Gill Farm is in front of you. Although the map directs us through the farm yard we skirted round keeping to the field track and once in front of the farm house made our way down to the far corner of the field on our left to pick up the path again. (OS X Eastings 406904 OS Y Northings 497359)
Now we are down to the road, cross over and make your way down the tunnel of trees. Once at the junction of the public bridleway and footpath take the footpath. This was very overgrown but again there was a footpath to follow and you will come to the stepping stones. Large stepping stones, and for us that day, all was okay to cross. Time for a breather and some sustenance here though. Lots going on by the river there was even a little stoat who came to look at us!
Follow the footpath to Wood House, cross the track and take the footpath immediately to the right of the house. Very steep up here, keep the wood on your left, through the little gate at the top, to your left you will see another stile on the hillside, make your way to this, again quite steep but not far! Once here you have a choice, turn to the right and walk to Marrick for little look round, or go left down through the wood. This is the route we will take anyway so the choice is yours. Down through the wood which seemed very green and dense and the stony path, a little slippery in places but okay. Soon Marrick Priory comes into view and the single track road. Past here to the last building on your right, take the footpath here and go through the fields. Keep going to eventually come out at High Fremington. A wander through High Fremington, some interesting buildings here, keeping to the footpath though, again out into open fields and coming out at Reeth Bridge again! Over the bridge, then on your left you will see a little footpath sign, follow this, doubling back under the bridge, follow the signs and walk along the side of Arkle Beck. Ignore the first footpath but after a while come out on a pretty little green, left here onto the road and follow to bring you back onto Reeth village green and back to your vehicle.
There are various places where you can find food and drink here, have a little explore too if you like. Do hope you enjoy!
We don’t have any cottages in Swaledale but the ride over from Wensleydale is superb and really not to be missed. Call me Nadine or my daughter Joanne on 01969 663559 for friendly help and advice and to book over the telephone or book on line if you wish of course.
Written By Nadine Bell