08/04/2021

Keld to Muker circular walk, via the Wildflower Meadows in Upper Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales

 

Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Looking down on the River Swale towards Muker on this walk from Keld in Upper Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales


Keld to Muker Circular Walks - 3 route options:

The Keld to Muker circular walk is a popular walk in Upper Swaledale - and there are 3 options to choose from really if you want a walk that is around 6 miles and can be done in 3-4 hours (with stops). You can do this walk either from Keld or from Muker, personally I choose to start from Keld as that is the first village I come too when I travel into the area from the A66, via the Tan Hill Inn. All 3 circular walks from Keld head to Muker on the same path, on the eastern side of the River Swale in a clock-wise direction  - but you have 3 options on the return leg depending on your fitness levels :-)



Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Here are 3 spectacular circular walk ideas from Keld to Muker in the Yorkshire Dales



Walk route 1 - a flatter, easier route: Keld to Muker along the Swaletrail


Muker Keld walk map route Yorkshire dales
This is an easier route and follows the Swale Trail all the way with no steep sections, as you can see from the elevation chart below. The walk starts from Keld and goes in a clock-wise direction. Due to it being very windy on the day of the particular walk I've featured on this blog post, we choose this route as it was bit more sheltered. 


As you can see there's nothing too strenuous on this route - so choose this one for a more leisurely stroll





Walk route 2 - the classic walking route: Keld to Muker along the Swaletrail and returning via the western flank of Kisdon Hill on The Corpse Way



Muker Keld walk map route Yorkshire dales
Most of the Keld to Muker walks you find documented on the web are this classic route, where you get some great views from the eastern flank of Kisdon Hill on the path called The Corpse Way from Muker to Keld. Again it goes in a clockwise direction - and it can be done from Keld or Muker. 


To get the views you have to do a bit of a steep walk up Kisdon Hill as you can see!



Walk route 3: Keld to Muker along the Swaletrail and returning via the eastern flank of Kisdon Hill on The Pennine Way



Muker Keld walk map route Yorkshire dales
Another option is to walk from Muker to Keld on the eastern flank of Kisdon Hill via a section of the Pennine Way

There's still an uphill section but its a little easier on the eastern flank compared to the west of Kisdon Hill.





The spectacular Muker wildflower meadows in Swaledale - the best time to visit

The Keld to Muker circular is a great walk to do any time of the year, but perhaps a really special time to do it is in May/June when the stunning wildflower meadows in the fields to the north of Muker are in full bloom. Each field has it's own special mix of Wildflowers and it's one of the best places to see upland wildflower meadows from a footpath in the Yorkshire Dales. Infact some of the meadows at Muker are protected as part of the Muker meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as wildflowers in this concentration are now a rarity in Britain and are the result of years of management from the local Dales farmers who cut the fields back at the end of June in the traditional way to provide fodder for their livestock during the winter months. It really is an amazing sight to see.


muker wildflower meadows walk upper swaledale yorkshire dales
Each of the 12 fields just to the north of Muker has its own mix of wildflowers and in these species rich meadows you'll find Cat's ear, Wood crane's bill, Buttercups, Lady's mantle, Yellow rattle, Rough hawkbit, Sweet vernal grass, Pignut and Melancholy thistle as well as a wide range of insects, birds and small mammals. Note the best time to see the meadows in all their glory is in June.


Map location of the wild flower meadows in Muker:


Here's a map of where you will find these stunning wild flower meadows in the months of May & June. As you can see the fields are just to the north of Muker and a clearly marked footpath cuts right through the fields





muker wildflower meadows walk upper swaledale yorkshire dales
The wildflower meadows are really easy to access, although you are asked to stay to the well-marked footpaths. Six of the fields have easy to walk down flagged paths and  the first two are suitable for wheelchairs or pushchair visitors. They really are a must-do activity if you are in the area in early summer - even if you just do a very short walk from Muker to the wild flower meadows and back





Our Keld to Muker circular walk

I hope you found the introduction to the 3 circular walk ideas from Keld to Muker helpful and also shed some useful light on finding the wild flower meadows in Muker. Below are some photos from the walk that we actually chose to do on the 4th April 2021, which due to the high winds was the easier, flatter, more sheltered route (Walk route 1 from the maps above)  

Walk map route (Keld to Muker along the Swaletrail):

Due to it being very windy on the day of this particular walk, we choose this route as it was bit more sheltered and we did it in an anti-clockwise direction from Keld.


This walk starts at Keld, a lovely little traditional Yorkshire Dales village right the head of Upper Swaledale, and a bit quite than Muker. 


Keld to Muker circular walk overview:


Walk distance: 5.8 miles
Walk time: 3 hours (add more for a stop in the village)
Walk difficulty: Easy


Photos of this Keld to Muker circular walk:


This place to park at Keld is Park Lodge Car park at Park Lodge farm. There is plenty of space for cars and the car park prices are very reasonable at £2 a day via an honesty box. I love this part of the world where things are a lot more traditional and there are no car park machines charging you an arm and a leg


In the car park at Keld you'll find a board with the various walking route options on which I have featured on this blog post


Soon after starting we take a left at this junction to follow the Swale Trail and head down to cross the River Swale, later we will return via the path to the right 


Heading down to cross the River Swale



Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
A glorious sight on the River Swale - it looks warmer than it is though - it's about 5c here!


We then get up close to East Gill force - which is a nice little waterfall and a good place to stop for a few mins. 


East Gill Force Keld Waterfall Walk Swaledale Richmond near Tan Hill Yorkshire Dales best route map
Here's one I made earlier! East Gill force on another day when the water is more in full flow.


Stunning views down the River Swale


Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Looking back to the village of Keld at the head of Swaledale


The views down the valley are superb on this walk


Keld muker walk circular swale dale yorkshire dales meadow
What a Yorkshire view!


Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Its a gradual down hill here towards the River Swale 



You can take the bridge or just go straight through the beck


Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
This point of the walk is a nice place to stop and admire the Yorkshire views



Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Looking back up the River Swale to where we have come from


It's pretty flat from now on and we track the River Swale all the way to Muker

Muker is now in sight 


Just a little bridge crossing to go now


Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
After crossing the River Swale we head into the first of the Muker wildflower fields that 




muker wildflower meadows walk upper swaledale yorkshire dales
At this time of year (early April) there are no wildflowers in bloom yet - but soon each of these fields will be covered in a carpet of Wildflowers 




muker wildflower meadows walk upper swaledale yorkshire dales
The paths are clearly marked through the multiple wildflower meadow fields 


muker wildflower meadows walk upper swaledale yorkshire dales
A little taste of what these wildflower meadows will look like in may or June time!



Muker village yorkshire dales holiday cottages
Time for a little mooch around the small traditional Yorkshire village of Muker

Muker village yorkshire dales holiday cottages shop store
Muker Village Store

Muker pub Farmers Arms Muker village yorkshire dales holiday cottages
The farmers Arms pub in Muker - unfortunately it's closed on this walk due to covid restrictions - but looks a nice little sun trap!

Muker church
Muker Church

Muker holiday cottages yorkshire
The cottages at Muker are about as traditional yorkshire you can get - some I believe are holiday cottages


Time to leave Muker and head back on the Pennine Way to Keld



Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
It's a blustery day with the wind howling down the valley - this old barn looks  good place to get some shelter from the wind and have a cuppa

Time for a cup of Yorkshire Tea :-)



Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
This path returns alone the River Swale but on the opposite side to the one we walked to Muker on

Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Alfie our dog can't get enough of the cold waters of the River Swale for a good splash about

One of the many old bars we pass on this walk that are no longer in use

This looks like an old farmers cottage - a lick of paint and it will make a cracking holiday home :-)


Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
We are on the Pennine Way here and it's a bit of an uphill but about as hard as it gets on the return leg



Keld muker walk circular river swaledale yorkshire dales wildflower meadow
Looking over the Rover Swale valley to the path we walked earlier



Pennine way swaletrail yorkshire
And we've just about made it back to Keld and rejoin the Swale Trail, where previously we took a left at this junction!




Well I hope you found this little write-up useful and gives you a few ideas for some walks in the Keld and Muker area in Yorkshire. It's a lovely area and a lot less busy than other parts of Yorkshire, infact it's my favourite area due to its remoteness. If you want a walk that is a bit shorter in the area - I recommend the Keld Waterfall walk (link below). And even if you do the Keld to Muker walk, I do recommend visiting Wain Wath Force while you are here, as you can literally park the car pretty much next to it!










Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'


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Thanks for taking an interest in my blog, all comments and questions are welcome! Best, Stuart

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