Kisdon and Swaledale

Map for walk around Kisdon in SwaledaleThis is a superb short walk in upper Swaledale. Kisdon is an isolated hill that stands between Swaledale and the valley of Skeb Skeugh. From the summit of the hill we get great views down Swaledale, while from the eastern and northern flanks we get a close view of the wild upper reaches of Swaledale and the fells beyond.

Ascent: 900ft/ 6km
Length: 4 miles/ 280m
Map: Explorer 030 Yorkshire Dales North and Central
Last Walked: 5 May 2007

On my last visit there was a privately operated car park at the very northern tip of Keld, next to a very nice tearoom, so we start from there.

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KeldStarting at the very northern tip of Keld, head along the road through the village. Just at the end of the village the small road splits in two - take the left hand branch. At the main road turn left and then follow it for about a fifth of a mile as it curves around to the right and heads into the valley to the west of Kisdon.
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Skeb SkeughWe follow this road south until we reach a track that leaves to the left, dropping down into the valley and crossing over the Skeb Skeugh (the stream at the bottom of the valley). Follow this track for half a mile as it climbs up the western flank of Kisdon. At that point the main track makes a U-turn towards an isolated farm building to the left, while our track continues to climb anti-clockwise around the hillside.
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Muker from KisdonOur track runs through the middle of a series of fields, and then reaches a rather unusual stretch where it runs between two broken down stone walls, before emerging onto a large open area that forms the southern summit of Kisdon. We follow this track across this open area, until we reach the far wall. At this point it is worth making a diversion to the right to the top of the crags on the southern edge of Kisdon, so follow the line of the wall south to this fantastic viewpoint, then return back to our track, and continue on into the next field.
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We now have a choice of routes, one on the footpath and one across access land. To take the footpath route, follow this track around this first field, and then into a lane that heads downhill towards Muker. After about a third of a mile we reach a T-junction - turn left here, and then almost immediately turn left onto the Pennine Way. Follow the Pennine Way all the way round to step six

The only problem with this route is that we lose a great deal of height that we almost immediately have to regain. An alternative route heads across the access land to the left, and cuts off a sizable corner, as well as staying on the high ground.

First we need to get into the access land. In the first field after the large open area follow the left hand wall until we reach a gate. Pass through this gate (please close it behind you). We are now in the first of three fields that run parallel to the Pennine Way along the top of Kisdon.

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In this first field follow the wall to the right until we reach the top of the steep bank above the Pennine Way. Turn left and follow the top of this bank north into the next field.

Here we find the first route down to the Pennine Way - a gully cuts into the bank, providing a way straight down to the path - clamber down into the base of this gully, turn right and follow it down hill until it reaches the Pennine Way.

East banks of KisdonIf this gully looks too steep, continue along the top of the bank to the northern end of this second field. Turn right and follow the line of the wall for a short distance, until you reach a path that climbs up from the Pennine Way. Turn right onto this path and Upper Swaledale from Kisdonfollow it down to the main path. This second route is probably easier, but less fun!

Whichever route you have chosen, take care. Once on the Pennine Way, turn left, and follow it anti-clockwise around the eastern and northern slopes of Kisdon. This is a spectacular walk, with great views across Swaledale and into the fells beyond.

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We stay on the Pennine Way almost all the way back to Keld. For most of that distance we have no other choice of paths - the Pennine Way is the only route all the way around the eastern and most of the northern flanks of Kisdon. Eventually, close to the northern tip of Kisdon, the path splits in two. We take the right hand branch, the Pennine Way, as it drops down the side of the hill.
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Kisdon ForceAfter a short distance our path merges with another path coming in from the right. We then pass a path signposted for Kisdon Force - this is a dead end, but is well worth following down to this secluded waterfall. After returning from Kisdon Force, continue along the Pennine Way until we reach a point where it turns right and heads down to the Swale. Instead of turning, we continue along our current path all the way back into Keld.