LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Swaledale…..the valley of waterfalls, wildflowers and the wild river
Wild and breathtaking scenery, gorgeous gastronomy, and so much more……
Lying in the north of the National Park on the eastern slopes of the Pennines, Swaledale is known for its wild and untamed beauty, its swathes of wildflower meadows, spectacular waterfalls, and of course the mighty Swale that carves its way through the hillside. Step out of the gardens at Low House Manor onto the Swale Trail, jump on a bicycle, wild swim in the river or hike up into the hills to take in spectacular views along the valley.
If you prefer something a little less energetic then Swaledale has plenty to offer too. Stop for lunch or afternoon tea in one of Swaledale’s enchanting towns and villages, get your historical juices flowing at Easby Abbey or the Norman keep at Richmond Castle, lose yourself in galleries and shops full of local art and handmade crafts, you can even go on a trek with alpacas through the fields and pastures of Low Row. Whatever you decide one thing is for certain, you will leave this beautiful part of the world having left a little piece of your heart behind.
“When you leave a beautiful place you carry it with you wherever you go“
Within walking distance of Low House Manor is the fabulous Punch Bowl Inn, a gastropub with a commitment to serving only the best local and seasonal produce. Tuck into slow braised belly of pork in front of a roaring log fire, washed down with a pint of local craft beer. Venture out a little further to the Charles Bathurst (CB) Inn in Arkengarthdale, and choose from its award winning seasonal menu. Be tempted by harissa spiced quail with coriander & lime flat bread or perhaps the pan roasted cod with pancetta and bacon foam. For a hearty Sunday lunch head to The Farmer’s Arms in Muker, or if you prefer food with a view head to the highest inn in England at the vertiginous Tan Hill.
If you prefer a more formal dining experience then head into Reeth to The Burgoyne Hotel. The 1783 bar and restaurant which was re-launched in 2018 serves dishes “crafted from the seasonal larder of the Yorkshire Dales” and combines simplicity with elegance. In the pretty cobbled street of Frenchgate in the historic heart of Richmond, The Frenchgate offers a locally sourced menu in the intimate surroundings of a Grade II listed former Georgian Gentleman’s residence. Think high end dining in a relaxed yet stylish contemporary and eclectic atmosphere.
Flowers & Festivals
Although known primarily for its dramatic scenery, Swaledale shows its softer side in late May And June, when the valley floor is transformed into a heady mix of colour. Around the pretty village of Muker, the meadows are the most vibrant, and a flagged footpath running from the village through the fields of wildflowers allows summer visitors to experience close up the fragrant spectacle of species rich wildflowers and grasses. Just before the hay meadows burst into their riotous colours, the valley is covered in a blanket of bluebells and snowdrops, as if paving the way with its simple duochrome palette for the intoxicating display to follow.
Muker is also known for the small and friendly agricultural and horticultural show, held in its meadows on the first Wednesday in September. Now in its 116th year (2021), it’s a real unfettered slice of Yorkshire Dales life, touched little by the ravages of time. At the end of May and early June Swaledale and its neighbours Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale host the Swaledale Festival, a fabulous celebration of the arts with performers attending from all over the world. Classical musicians, brass bands, jazz, folk and world music performances are joined by poetry, comedy, dance, drama, film, workshops, talks, exhibitions, masterclasses and a few surprises too.
Culture & History
Behind the office on Reeth’s resplendent green Swaledale has its very own museum. From minerals to mining and from sheep to shops the museum is a little treasure trove of objects, archives and information on the geology and human history of the dale and neighbouring Arkengarthdale. Whilst in Reeth visit the Scenicview Gallery with its collection of evocative photographs capturing the ever changing light and colours of the landscape. For something completely different visit Michael Kusz at Graculus Sculptures, who transforms old copper into magnificent and quirky works of art.
In the historic market town of Richmond visit The Georgian Theatre Royal, Britain’s oldest working theatre and surviving Georgian playhouse, or perhaps swashbuckle your way to the magnificent square keep of Richmond Castle, built on the “riche-mont” which gave the town its name. Continuing the historical theme, spend time wandering the ruins of Easby Abbey, or perhaps make your spine tingle on a Ghost Walk around the town on a balmy August evening. For art lovers visit Arthaus, Mackenzie Thorpe’s personal gallery, or the “UK’s most popular published artist” Lucy Pittaway. Both have galleries on Finkle Street, one of the pretty narrow lanes leading off the cobbled market square.
For us, the most magical things to do in Swaledale involve immersing ourselves in the great outdoors; and in Swaledale the outdoors is not only great, but exquisitely beautiful, wonderfully wild, and full of awe and wonder. Wander the wildflower meadows around Muker in the spring or take a gentle stroll along the riverbank watching nature awaken from its long winter sleep. Hike to the top of steeply climbing hills on a summer’s day, to wild heather moorlands and remote fells, and spectacular views along the valley. In autumn explore Swaledale’s many waterfalls; around Keld alone there are at least 9 significant waterfalls within a kilometre of the village, the highest concentration of waterfalls in England. In winter, Swaledale’s beauty is transformed when snow falls on the hills, and a fairy-tale world emerges. Don your snow boots and head out to explore this icy wilderness, before it melts quietly back into the earth.
If you don’t want to take the car, there are a number of gorgeous walks from the door. Situated on the Swale Trail you can enjoy 12 miles of mainly off road walking from Grinton to Keld, taking in lunch at The Bridge Inn in Grinton, or a pint of craft ale at The Kings Head in Gunnerside. Enjoy a circular walk from the house along the banks of the Swale, or perhaps climb the hills on the opposite side of the valley for stunning views back to the house and along the river. Stroll or hike, it’s up to you, but wander often, and wonder always.
When you think of the wilds of Swaledale, shopping is probably not the first thing that springs to mind (if it is, you really should have paid more attention in geography class!). If you dream of a day out under the artificial lights of a shopping mall, Swaledale is not for you, but if you enjoy colourful markets brimming with local produce, enjoy popping out to the bakers in the morning for a fresh buttermilk loaf, or enjoy wandering through tiny lanes filled with individual shops, crafts and artisans, then you and Swaledale are meant for each other.
Visit Reeth on a Friday morning to buy local produce from its little market on the green. Whilst you’re there treat yourself to a sourdough or buttermilk loaf from the Two Dales Bakery, a gorgeous little artisan bakery that also has a cafe on site, and makes brownies that epitomize the word “indulgence”. For more traditional bakery fayre pop into the Reeth bakery, or head home with one of the many varieties of Swaledale cheese and a bottle or two of ale produced in Swaledale’s own 6 barrel microbrewery. Further afield, Richmond has a fabulous foodie Saturday market, and a farmer’s market on the 3rd Saturday of the month, both held in the cobbled market place. If you still need your supermarket fix, there is a Lidl and a Co-op in Richmond, a large Tesco at Catterick Garrison and both Tesco and Sainsbury’s deliver to the door. Although not in Swaledale our favourite supermarket is Campbells, a fabulous award winning family run supermarket, butchers, deli and wine retailer in Leyburn, and the drive “over the top” to get there is stunning.
If your love of the great outdoors is combined with a sense of adventure, then Swaledale will get your heart racing. The Swale Trail is not only a walking and hiking route but is also designed for cyclists who want to get off the road without having to go fully “off road”. If you’ve been inspired by the Tour de Yorkshire, or the Swaledale leg of the Tour de France back in 2014, hire a bike from the Dales Bike Centre in Reeth or bring your own and enjoy exploring Swaledale on 2 wheels.
If you want something a little different try your hand at gorge walking/scrambling (plan to have lots of fun but get very wet), or if you prefer to stay dry, rock climbing and abseiling might be a fun way to spend a day. If the water is calling, spend a day paddle boarding on Ellerton lake, learn to build a raft, wild swim in the river or canoe/kayak on fast moving water and rapids. If you want to experience the great outdoors “indoors”, then join a caving expedition, and for the insanely fit a spot of fell running will make up for the mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows you had last night by the river at Low House Manor.
If you want to fish for brown trout on other sections of the river, the Reeth and District Angling Club has access to 5 separate fishing beats between Muker and Ellerton, although fishing from your own spot at Low House Manor will take some beating. You can shoot too, but we would prefer you not to do that with anything other than a camera.
“A simply stunning house in the most beautiful location. Cherrie and Paul have thought of everything – from the generous welcome hamper with local produce to the luxurious beds, cosy blankets, wonderfully equipped kitchen and fabulously comfy outdoor seating area. A magical week – we absolutely loved it. We hope we will be able to come back one day”
Beyond the stunning scenery of Swaledale, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North Yorkshire wolds, moors and coast have something for everyone……go explore and discover.