Friday 25 May 2018. For Amanda & Josephine’s last walk with me on this holiday we drove over the Butter Tubs pass to Muker in Swaledale. I’ve walked from there many times but wanted to try out a new, to me, high level path up the eastern side of Swaledale to Swinner Gill. We started a steady climb up an easy track towards Arn Gill where the track came to an end. Along the way we passed large areas of bluebells which were still showing well as we almost enter the month of June. Leaving the track at Arn Gill we made a short climb to a higher elevation to join a footpath marked on the map. This was about 300ft above the valley floor below and a slip off to the left would have had catastophic results. Crossing West Arn Gill was “interesting” as we descended steeply to cross the stream and then had a short scramble up the other side. The path came to an end at Swinner Gill where we stopped for lunch.
Swinner Gill marked the turning point for the walk as we headed west towards Crackpot Hall and then south along the valley floor to Muker. We had been lucky with the weather until just after lunch when the rains came. We took shelter briefly in a disused barn but then decided to brave the elements. The rains relented for a while but became more persistent for the last half hour of the walk. The one saving grace was that the wind and rain was behind us so it didn’t seem too bad. The walk was just 5.8 miles but had a total ascent of 1,200ft.
Muker – walk route
Thursday 24 May 2018. Today’s walk was another reprise of one last done with Amanda & Bea in April 2010, albeit with a slightly modified route and a little shorter in length. It turned out to be 6.35 miles with a total ascent of 945ft.
Josephine hadn’t been to Aysgarth Falls before so we spent some time at the beginning of the walk exploring the middle and lower falls before moving on to visit Aysgarth Church. I’m not usually one for visiting churches but this one had the fascinating Jervaulx Screen. You can read about it here.
Leaving Aysgarth behind, we walked beside the River Ure for a while followed by a section of road walking to visit the site of the Knights Templar Preceptory where we stopped for lunch. By now, we were feeling the exertions of uphill walking and decided to amend the route to follow Morpeth Gate towards West Burton. Crossing Bishopdale Beck at Eshington Bridge we still had one final climb of 200ft to get back to Aysgarth church and the downhill finish towards the car and cafe at Aysgarth Falls visitor centre.
Aysgarth Falls – walk route
Tuesday 22 May 2018. We decided to have a break from serious walking today and to make a later start. I arranged to meet Amanda & Josephine at noon when we would go to the Wensleydale Creamery for lunch and to buy some cheese. This proved to be something of a mistake as it was market day in Hawes and the town was heaving with tourists. The Creamery restaurant was full booked and the cafe had a queue a mile long. We decided to come back later in the day for the cheese and went for lunch in a cafe in town.
The squirrel trail had to be pre-booked as only two cars are permitted to visit in the morning and in the afternoon. It was only a short walk to the squirrel viewing station but when we got there they were nowhere to be seen. We waited around for more than 30 minutes before the first squirrel appeared – behind us! It was joined soon after by a friend as they scampered up and down the trees. They only lingered for about 10 minutes before heading off into the woods.
We left soon after to complete the 2 mile squirrel trail circuit and then returned to our cheese-buying mission.
Red Squirrel Trail – walk route
Monday 21 May 2018. Karen joined us today for a walk before going on to holiday with her daughter and granddaughter. She chose what seemed to be an easy but local walk at Semer Water. We started out along the southern shore of the lake at a leisurely pace stopping after less than a mile for our coffee break. The climb up to Stalling Busk would have added unnecessary ascent to what was to become a challenging walk. Cutting this out proved to be a wise decision.
Our route along the valley floor came to an abrupt end at Marsett as we started to climb steeply up Marsett Cow Pasture towards Cam High Road. Thankfully, our route stopped just short of the top of the hill as we had already climbed over 700ft in just under a mile. Very much in need of a rest we stopped at the highest point of the walk for lunch. From the shore of Semer Water we had seen some hang-gliders taking of from the hill-top and now they were flying just above our heads.
The walk down was superb reward for the effort expended in getting to the top and we had great views over Semer Water towards Addlebrough hill. Although the walk was only 4.75 miles, it had a total ascent of 992ft.
Semer Water – walk route
Sunday 20 May 2018. Amanda & Josephine have joined me for the week and given a choice of walks, they opted for Middleham. I was pleased that they did as this small town is the northern racehorse training equivalent of Newmarket and might provide an opportunity to see some racehorses being exercised. To be fair, as we didn’t start until 11am, this was a little bit too late as they are normally on the gallops soon after dawn. There were a few horses being slowly ridden through town and 5 more up on the gallops.
Our walk took us steadily but inexorably uphill to the top of the Low Moor gallops where we stopped at the trig point (775ft) for coffee. We had great views across Wensleydale to Leyburn and beyond. Skylarks were springing up all around us and there were Lapwings and Curlews. From here we made our way down through the stables at Tupgill Park. The Forbidden Corner was busy with tourists and we soon passed by to follow the road to Coverham. There was more uphill as we made our way to Pinker’s Pond. It has an attractive name but wasn’t much more than a small lake with minimal scenic value.
We moved on to Hullo Bridge, over the River Cover, where we stopped at a conveniently placed bench for a late lunch. Looking at the map, I thought that we would be able to walk beside the river for a short stretch but the path soon left the river behind heralding another uphill climb. This didn’t last too long and as we crested William’s Hill we were greeted with the welcome sight of Middleham Castle. There seemed to be more up than down on this 6.35 mile walk but as we started and finished from the same point, this couldn’t be true. The total ascent was 760ft – it seemed more.
Middleham – walk route
Saturday 19 May 2018. I wanted to be back in time for the royal wedding (not!) so it was just a quick walk from the caravan today. I crossed the fields on the way to Sedbusk and followed with a quiet road walk to Hardaw where I sat beside the river for a coffee stop.
The return leg was equally familiar as I made my way downhill back to Hawes and my caravan. The walk was only 3.25 miles with a total ascent of 280ft.
Sedbusk & Hardraw – walk route