Head of the Swale - 3 September 2020

Posted by Kate Mountford on 2020-09-08

Head of the Swale - a squally upland walk

Thursday 3 September saw two groups of 6 walk from Keld to the head of the Swale.  The car park at Park Lodge Farm/Rudkin’s camp site was open again – modest honesty charges raised some time ago on the recommendation of our bank manager member walking with us today!  It makes a good starting point with toilets kept beautifully clean.

The weather forecast was for showers and it was a case of “Over trousers on? Over trousers off?, waterproofs on, waterproofs off” pretty much all walk.  It’s lovely to get back to walking with a small group and enjoying the varied conversations which spring up; walker with six offspring suggesting advice on birth control as we reached Ravenseat farm?, “Garmin” as a term of endearment?, whether this walk qualified for the ‘GH’ accreditation of no uphill after lunch? (it didn’t!), and our different approaches to people visiting and what feels safe in the current Covid situation.

The walk went out of Keld past the Catrake falls and then across meadows to West Stonedale where it helps to have your left leg longer than the right for walking across the slope.  From here we contoured the hill up Whitsun Dale to Ravenseat.  When Glenys and I recced it on Saturday it was squelchy in places – today it was distinctly boggy and one has to have faith that the sheep tracks which disappear and reappear will get you to the right place.

From the bridge at Ravenseat it was road and track walking over the hill and down to Swaledale proper just short of the confluence of Birkdale Beck and Great Sleddale Beck.  Lunch in the shelter of a barn with convenient walls to space out on and back to Keld alongside, and then on cliff tops above, the Swale.

In the last mile or so the sun came out strongly enough for the last ‘coats off’ before the showers returned for ‘coats on’.  A beautiful selection of upland landscapes with barns thrown in for Graham Rogers in the 2nd group.

Kate Mountford

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