Where is this walk?

Kisdon Fell from Thwaite

November 23, 2019

The walk starts at Thwaite, a village in Upper Swaledale. From here it climbs steeply up Kisdon Fell before dropping down to Keld. The low level return from Keld follows the embryonic River Swale.

Kisdon Fell is unusual (and the better for it) in the Northern Dales due to it’s splendid isolation, steep sides and the lack of any public rights of way to the summit. The deep clefts of Angram, Straw Beck and the upper reaches of the River Swale contrive to leave a square block of deep limestone. This has then been gauged out by the glacier’s retreat. Here Kisdon Fell sits. At three of the four corners of the fell are the quintessential Dales villages of Thwaite, Keld and Muker. Each one is exceptionally attractive with individuals qualities that make them stand out. As an example the village of Thwaite, where the walks starts, is perfect with a nice pub.

When I first did this walk I really enjoyed it. I had waited a long time to complete it and on a hot summer’s day discovered it encompassed all that is good in the Dales. Having climbed the steep slopes from Thwaite at pace I enjoyed a rough and trackless ten minutes to the summit (a Marilyn mountain at 1,635 feet). TNext is an equally steep descent to to Keld. Finally there is a long stroll down the upper Swale with its small but picturesque waterfalls.

Leaving Keld there are two options. Either drop to the valley floor and follow the path on the west side of the river. Alternatively a second and better path follows a higher route on a wide bridleway to the east. A final tramp along part of the finely named Old Corpse Road (where they took bodies over to consecrated land on the west side of the fell) to Thwaite completes a great day out.

Recommend

The walk is enhanced in May and June when the hay meadows just to the north of Muker are at their best.

Kisdon Fell from Thwaite is one of the best 20 walks in the Yorkshire Dales.

Navigation Tips on the Kisdon Fell walk

On leaving Keld and before reaching the woods turn left and drop steeply to the footbridge over the Swale. Then climb past Kisdon Force to the well named Crackpot Hall and join the main bridleway. The walking on the north eastern side of the valley is of more interest and more enjoyable.

3 Comments
  • Shelagh Lamb says:

    A beautiful colourful circular walk recommended in the autumn. We did this walk yesterday starting from Muker. Being caught in Storm Aidan ensured we just remained focused with our footing rather than admiring the views. It was very challenging to say the least, but undeterred we arrived at Keld and ate lunch at the falls which were spectacular. The return walk and descent back to Muker was stunning as the sun finally shone and we had the most fabulous views of the winding River Swale nestled between the glorious autumnal colours of the trees. Absolutely stunning and breathtaking views. My friend and I are two novice walkers as a result of Covid we took up this hobby and are enjoying it immensely. Many more to come.

  • chris says:

    Great walk. Easy to navigate with OL30 OS map. Took a short cut and came back on the West bank of the river Swale to make sure we made it to the Farmer’s Arms in Muker (pronounced “Mew-ker” not “Mucker” as we found out!) in time for lunch which was very reasonable and the perfect place to stop when most of the walk was done. Thanks for posting it.

  • Leon says:

    Really nice circular walk. We did this today in a mixture of sunshine and cloudy weather with some strong winds. This made it a bit chilly now and then but great walk with nice mixture of paths and views. Especially liked the bit unto the top of Kisdon Fell. As you said no marked paths but easy to find, just keep an eye on the little stone pyramid on the top.

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