Lake District


North Yorkshire

North Wales



About Summiteer

~Muker to Keld~

28th May 2020

Crackpot Hall

Molly at Crackpot Hall

Muker Meadows

I wonder if, in years to come, Spring of 2020 will be remembered for the many weeks of dry and sunny weather? Or, more likely, it will be memories of lockdown and fear of Covid-19 that will stick in the minds of anyone not directly affected by the virus. Restrictions have been eased to the point where it is acceptable to drive any distance for exercise as long as you return to your home at night. For us, it was important not to trouble the local community and also determine if the toilets en route and in Muker would be open.

Muker Meadows

Muker Meadows

No cafes or pubs are open, but the toilets in Stainforth, Hawes and Muker were open. I didn't check Settle on the way through. No toilet facilities in Keld at the moment, nor is the cafe at Rukin's Farm currently open - bring your own Tiffin! We decided to park in the council car park in Muker and pay £4.50 for the day - have I taken leave of my senses? No, if the council are prepared to take the trouble to open the toilets, it's worth more than the 20p it costs to gain entry to the loo. Most other visitors parked on the roadside.

Ramps Holme Bridge River Swale
Ramps Holme Bridge
River Swale

The river level is very low, it has barely rained since Boris Johnson locked us down on March 23rd. April was in the record books locally for the lack of rainfall and quantity of sunshine. May has not let us down and whilst the meadows usually bloom better and a week or two later, the dry conditions will have held the show back and as neither of us are working, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.



Swinner Gill

Swinner Gill

We were going to take lunch here, but there was a family not far behind and I reckoned they would be looking to stop here for photos and a bit of water play, so after Molly had taken a dip, we took the track up the fellside to Crackpot Hall. The steepest climb of the day as it turned out, about 330ft of ascent up to the long abandoned residence.

To Crackpot Hall

Up Th'ill

Crackpot Hall

Crackpot Hall

At this point, I discussed the return route with Karen and pointed out the Pennine Way path on the other side of the valley, but it was decided we should take the lower, valley route. As far as I could tell, there were no cows in the valley.

The tractor

We passed the derelict tractor and continued towards Keld. Sadly, there is no great purpose in walking up to Keld itself as the cafe and toilets are shut. I had email correspondence with the Rukin family and they cannot anticipate when any of their public facilities will reopen.


East Gill Force

East Gill Force

A chap and his two sons are braving the cold water. I don't think I have ever seen the area so quiet, maybe we are lucky to be fit and well and able to travel this fairly short distance. On the other hand, the clousure of two businesses has cost a small fortune. Government compensatory measures are quite good for Karen's shop and her self-employed business; they are very poor for a director paid via the dividend system and employed by his own company. My brother and I only chose the dividend system because the government incentivated such and the accountant recommended it; which one shall we sue? Maybe both?

Steep steps


The climb up from the river to the path meetings is rather steep, it would have helped matters if the ball had not fallen out of my pocket and rolled all the way back down the incline. Luckily Molly was willing to go back down and find it.

Pennine Way
The Woods

Looking back at the path divergence and a bit of Keld. We join the Pennine Way for a short distance and then head into the woods on the way back down to The Swale



Rukin Wood is above and to the right of this view. Hartlakes is a word on the map and either relates to the vicinity or maybe a derelict farmstead, of which there is a notable one not far from here.

Keld to Muker


When we got home and I had a short evening walk, I told a couple of dog walkers that we had been to Muker in Swaledale; they had no idea where these places were, this is good news!




Oyster Catchers were busy in the area and quite possibly trying to keep us away from nesting sites.

Oyster Catcher

Oyster Catcher

Molly Meadows

Ball Catcher

Ivelet Side

April 2017

3 Years Ago

Time taken: 3hrs 45mins over a distance of about 6.5 miles.

Route: Muker car park, the Meadows, Ramps Holme Bridge, Swinner Gill, Crackpot Hall, East Gill, Pennine Way, Hartlakes, the valley route to the Meadows and back to Muker.

Weather and conditions: Sunny and warm.

Refeshment Review: We took our own small stove, kettle, tea bags, mugs, water, milk and a spoon. I make my own Tiffin nowadays and we sat in the shade back at the car park. Not ideal, but that's the way it is.

We are so lucky to be able to take a short drive and reach Swaledale; this year's walk is dedicated to the hard workers and tax payers who generate huge incomes for the government via the tax system and pay again through Corporation Tax. Pub landlords, hoteliers, their staff, engineers, manufacturers, farmers, cafe staff, hairdressers etc. all those who get their hands dirty on a daily basis. There would be no social security or NHS and not much else without graft and personal sacrifice - we all in this together, well most of us anyway.


Stuck on The Sidelines

Can we pack the tent and head to The Lakes,

Will the police let us in to North Wales?

Reviewing the lockdown has caused folk to flock down

To beautiful places including The Dales.

The pubs are all shut and the locals aggrieved.

We urgently need to find a solution

To the socially distancing, yes we are listening

But we need to have toilets and daily ablution.

In the fields of the campsites we'll keep well apart,

We've followed the science and now we are wiser

It could be far worse, but outdoors we disperse,

With high factor suncream and hand sanitizer.

It's very frustrating, the gear is all ready

The car is fuelled up, the provisions are stocked.

No issue of two metres will ever defeat us

But we'll be beaten if the washrooms stay locked.

So when can we return to the campsites and hills?

Get bitten by midges and queue up for the loo

We'll be watching the guidelines, but stuck on the sidelines

If the pandemic of 2020 continues right through.


by R.M.Ratcliffe 26th May 2020

All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2020 ©

Take me back to the start ....

Take me home....