From Hawes follow signs for Hardraw and Thwaite. At the junction with the B6270 turn right to find Muker in approximately 1 and a half  miles. Pronounced 'Mooker' it is an unpretentious and compact little village situated at the head of Swaledale.. The fast flowing river is called, naturally enough the Swale.

There is a pay and display car park at the end of the village. This easy walk rewards with stunning views from the vantage point below Crackpot Hall. It offers an increasingly rare opportunity to walk through glorious, wild-flower meadows.  

1. From the car park turn left to walk back through Muker as far as the  Literary Institute building. Turn right here to make your way through the houses to the signed riverside walk. In high summer walking through these first few fields is a joy because the meadows are full of wild flowers in a way that seems to have become quite rare. It seems far more usual to see uniform, rather sterile fields of weed-free grass.

2. Cross the footbridge over the river and turn left to follow the river bank for a little more than a mile to the deep scar of Swinner Gill. Cross the little bridge over the beck and take the path ahead and upwards. To the right are derelict huts evidence of the lead mining activity which, at one time was a thriving industry.

3. Stay with the broad path as it swings gently left around the head of the dale and you may notice the large ruined building here, called Crackpot Hall. 

The intriguing name is, apparently, derived from Old Norse and, disapointingly, does not refer to a crazed 19th century psychopath but rather a connection with crows and the pothole.

4. Continue along the path until it drops downhill, through the gate and into the shade of the trees around Kisdon Force. On a summers day a cool retreat for a picnic before the short, steep climb up to meet, briefly, The Pennine Way. Take the lower path, not the Pennine Way, through the woods and above the river. Once clear of the trees it is level walking through fields whose patterns of walls and barns are so typical of Swaledale. Between April and September these barns play host to generations of swallows and martins.  

5. Complete this leg of the walk late on a summers afternoon and the thing that will impress most is the sense of peace and tranquillity that is almost tangible. The way mostly hugs the bank of the river until you approach the area of the footbridge crossed at the beginning of the walk. Here, retrace your way through the remaining fields to Muker. 

Map: OS Outdoor Leisure 30 - Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central areas
Distance: 5 miles
Terrain: Enchanting and easy
Time: 3 hours

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