THE moors to the south of Reeth, on the slopes of Gibbon Hill, teemed with miners in the 19th century and earlier.

The lead mines were one of many that dominated the landscape of Swaledale, the remains which can be seen and explored on this moorland walk.

Reeth has a huge village green with an impressive array of 18th and 19th century houses on its west side. To the north lies Arkengarthdale, a lovely valley devastated by the floods in 2019. However, we are heading south to cross the River Swale. Walk past the national park centre in to small Anvil Square and take the footpath signed ‘To the River’.

Turn right on to a lane heading west before turning left and heading towards the river. The path veers right as it closes in on the river and arrives at a suspension bridge. It was built in 1920, washed away in 2000 and rebuilt in the same style.

Over the river it is possible to turn right and follow the riverbank but the right of way (footpath/bridleway) is a few metres up the hillside. Turn right and return to the riverside and follow the path for half a mile to a farm opposite an arc of stepping stones on the river. Head through the farm buildings and climb to a road.

Turn left for 100m on the road and take the signed footpath opposite. The path continues uphill towards a large bush, the site of Maiden Castle. The grand name masks what is in reality the earthern remains of an Iron Age fort, well preserved none the less.

From the south-west corner of the fort turn right and follow the footpath for half a mile. To the left are the spoil heaps of Harker Lead Mine, the first of a series of reminders that this landscape was once a busy, thriving industrial community. The industrial remains of Swaledale give the area its own distinctive character.

Before reaching Browning Gill there are a couple of paths/tracks heading south up the hillside, meeting either at or near a shooting hut. Turn left on to a wide land rover track which heads east across the high plateau of Harker Hill. The views over Reeth in to Arkengarthdale and beyond are excellent, it is a high airy panorama.

It is perfectly possible to follow the land rover track for a further two miles all the way until it meets a road. However, after a mile there are a two tracks which fork to the left, downhill. We are heading for the Grinton Tower and youth hostel, and one path keeping to the north of Grinton Gill is particularly pleasant and avoids some later road walking.

This path arrives to the north/uphill of the lodge and from there it is only a few minute’s walk in to Grinton village. Pop in to look around the impressive St Andrew's Church, probably the best in Swaledale, before crossing the road bridge. A path on your left avoids much of the road and crosses some fields and the banks of the River Arkle. When it meets the road follow it into Reeth and its cafes and pubs.

Fact box

Distance: Roughly 7 miles Height Climbed: 320m (1050 feet).

Start: SE 038993. Parking on or around Reeth Green.

Difficulty: Medium. Too many paths rather than too few confuse a little near the river and there is a climb in order to arrive on the moors but this is generally a straightforward walk.

Refreshments: Reeth has a choice of pubs. There are 2 cafes but they may be on winter hours.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 30) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston, near Settle (Choice of two. Beginners or ‘Mountain Skills’) First Available Date is 1st April. also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.