Date - 9th March 2008 Distance - 7 miles
Map - OL30
Start point - Muker car park, Swaledale (SD 911978)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Kisdon 1638 499 SD 8991 9985



Another Sunday, so we were up early as Dad had arranged to walk in Yorkshire with Uncle Bob. Our meeting place was the pretty village of Muker in Swaledale. Normally to get there we would have travelled the very familiar road to Hawes. Not possible this week as it was closed at Ribblehead for work on the bridge carrying the railway line over it. Instead we travelled up the M6 to Tebay then along to Kirkby Stephen. For a long stretch this road is level and Dad told us that once this had been a railway. The old road was very narrow so when the railway closed it made sense to use the old trackbed for a new road. As we drove along Dad pointed out buildings that had been Gaisgill and Ravenstonedale stations. Interestingly although called Ravenstonedale the station was actually situated on the outskirts of the village of Newbiggin on Lune.

The two photographs show the station in 1905 and now.


Once at Kirkby Stephen we left the main road coming to the village of Nateby, where we turned left to climb up on to Nateby Common and then over Birkdale Common. On this narrow winding and lonely road we did not pass another car - not a place to breakdown, especially in the dark. At Keld the road skirted below a hill. This was Kisdon Hill and our objective today.

Uncle Bob had arrived just a few minutes before us, and we said our good mornings. We jumped into Dad’s rucksack and soon we were off along the street. Passing the Craft Gallery we suddenly noticed something odd on the roof!

Shaun was secured in the rucksack so could not go chasing up there. Just as well as we couldn't climb up to get him down!

This building with the odd architecture is the Literary Institute and our route was beside it along the signed cul-de-sac.

Soon we were on open country along a track that we had walked before that led to the Pennine Way. Here we paused to take in the views behind, like this to the Buttertubs Pass with Kisdon Farm in the foreground.

On the previous walk we had then taken the Pennine Way, but today we ignored this instead climbing by a wall, on a track that runs below Kisdon Hill to Keld. It is actually an ancient trackway known as the Corpse Way. For many hundreds of years the only consecrated ground was at Grinton further down the Dale, and tradition has it that the dead were carried in wicker coffins for burial there. The paths used thus became known as the Corpse Way.

After a gate we left the track to head due north over rough ground towards the summit of Kisdon Hill. It was quite a gentle climb and we soon came to a substantial dry stone wall that barred our way to the summit. This however presented no problems to Uncle Bob and Dad and we were soon on the other side and it was just a few yards to the highest point, where of course we had our photograph taken.

Just a few yards away stood a substantial cairn. We were surprised that it had not actually been built at the highest point.

Some of the top stones had fallen, so Uncle Bob carried out some repairs.

He then posed after completing his handy work.

Taking a bearing (no pun intended!), we came to a wall corner where we again climbed over and followed along by the wall on our descent. As we looked across the valley we could see the sad remains of the 17th century farmhouse Crackpot Hall on the hillside. On a previous walk we had come along the path by these ruins.

Soon we were nearly down to the valley and these inquisitive Swaledale sheep posed for us,

before we came to Kisdon Force a delightful waterfall that empties itself into the River Swale.

Uncle Bob who is a quite expert photographer decided to get his tripod out to put his camera on to get his picture. It took quite a while and we were getting hungry, so we gathered round and Allen got the sandwiches out of his rucksack for our picnic.

Kisdon force has an upper fall too and again we sat patiently while Uncle Bob used his tripod again to get his photo. Dad took this one.

It had been a nice and restful time here but now we set off along the valley on our return to Muker. The views were beautiful especially looking back. This was taken from below Crackpot Hall and shows Beldi Hill behind the old barn.

Uncle Bob snapped Dad on the remains of this old tractor. Quite environmentally friendly we thought too, but glad we did not have to travel home on it!

Photo courtesy Uncle Bob

After walking on for a while the path descended to cross the stream coming down the steep Swinner Gill, which we had descended last year as we returned from a walk to the desolate and boggy tops of Water Crag and Rogan’s Seat. The upper parts of this gill were once the scene of extensive lead mining. At its base the stream drops over this fall.

Uncle Bob and Dad had their picnic here while we sat and enjoyed the wonderful scenery. Continuing along we had superb views up the valley.

To the left on the hillside stands the ruin of Crackpot Hall. Now, we must tell you about an amusing incident, which had us all in fits of laughter. The day was windy and you may have noticed in an earlier picture that Dad was wearing his smart green cap (well anything is better than that silly blue and yellow bobble hat). Suddenly a gust of wind took Dad’s hat off his head and down the steep bank by the river. Fortunately it didn't go into the water. We were dumped by the path as Dad scrambled down the precarious banking slipping and sliding on the loose soil and rocks.

Photo courtesy Uncle Bob

Nevertheless he was successful!

Photo courtesy Uncle Bob

To prevent another incident he put it in his pocket for the rest of the walk. Soon we had crossed the river and all that remained was to walk along the flagstones across a number of pastures to reach Muker.

No prizes for guessing what happened next. Yes, we hopped out and settled in the car to have another picnic, while Uncle Bob and Dad went to the tearoom by the village store.

Here they had a warming pot of tea and scones with butter and jam.

Well another adventure was over and another Yorkshire Dale’s summit ticked off too. We had learnt yet more interesting things to remember and tell our friends at home. Goodbyes were said and then Dad drove us home over that wild narrow lonely road to Kirkby Stephen, then to Tebay and down the M6 motorway.


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