The Swale Way

The Swale Way guide book is now available! You can buy it as a traditional paperback, a digital PDF version, or on Kindle – head over to the Book Shop!

The 80 mile Swale Way follows the length of the River Swale in North Yorkshire from its confluence with the River Ure near Boroughbridge to its source at the head of Swaledale, where Birkdale Beck and Great Sleddale Beck meet, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is a walk of contrasts – along the way it passes through the historic market towns of Boroughbridge, Thirsk and Richmond with their numerous tourist attractions; it passes famous battle sites and historic parkland; through lush meadows and dramatic gorges and travels the length of Swaledale, considered by many to be the most beautiful of all the Yorkshire Dales.

The Swale Way was originally conceived by John Brock of the Ramblers Association in 1995. The route was then revised by members of the Walkers are Welcome towns of Boroughbridge, Thirsk and Kirkby Stephen. Now a brand new guide book is available, drawing heavily on these original sources, it also makes use of new paths that have been opened up by the Open Access legislation and permissive paths from landowners such as the Ministry of Defence, to trace a route through one of Yorkshire’s most iconic landscapes.

By taking advantage of little known paths on the south of the river between Richmond and Keld, the Swale Way manages to avoid the crowds of the Coast to Coast, which also runs through the valley. The views of Swaledale are expansive as the Way climbs away from the river to follow the path around Stainton Moor to Haggs Gill and down through the hay meadows into Grinton and Reeth. From there the Way crosses the suspension bridge and uses quiet paths beside the Swale before crossing back to pass through Gunnerside and the spectacular Kisdon Gorge to reach Keld. From there, a short walk brings the Way to Birkdale and the start of the Swale. Job done; river followed from end to start, the Way climbs to the iconic cairns on Nine Standards Rigg and then drops down into Kirkby Stephen.

The new guide book includes a planning section with accommodation guide, town facilities, advice and guidance. It includes a detailed route guide with walking directions and a set of annotated maps. The book is peppered with items of local and historical interest, helping to add context to the buildings, bridges and villages along the Way.

22 Responses

  1. Jeanette Daly says:

    Hi. My friend and I walk most Wednesdays. Live in Thirsk. Over 70 yrs. Usually do 5 – 6 miles. Any use to you? Keen to help and find new walks! Jeanette Daly

  2. lcmonaghan11 says:

    Hi – I live locally and would be happy to test a section.

  3. Sharon Trewhitt says:

    Hi as I live at Pickhill, which passes very close to the Swale, happy to help doing 10 miles or so.
    Kind regards
    Sharon Trewhitt

  4. Ruth S says:

    We are often near Richmond so let me know and can test out the section from there?

    • Stuart says:

      Thanks Ruth, the section from Morton-on-Swale to Richmond, walking upstream, will need testing in a few weeks – I’ve not written the notes up yet. I will let you know when they’re ready and if you’re still available that would be great.

  5. David Gray says:

    Let’s us know if we are able to help you promote this walk. All the the best from Keld Lodge

  6. We’d be happy to walk some of it for you…often up Reeth way walking anyway 😊

    • Stuart says:

      Caroline, I have three people testing the route between Richmond and Kirkby Stephen now, but I do need people for the sections between Boroughbridge, Thirsk, Morton-on-Swale and Richmond, if you fancy wandering a bit further afield? Don’t feel obliged to say yes; I know most of that is a long way from Reeth and public transport is more difficult at that end of the walk.

  7. Sue Cole says:

    one of our favourite places to visit. Need a training walk this coming weekend ahead of Scottish coast to coast in May.

  8. Sam says:

    I’d be interested in waking some for you if you’re still after volunteers

  9. Rob MACDONALD says:

    Hi Stuart

    We’d be very happy to walk the walk for you, and feedback as needed. Any section(s) upstream from Reeth.

    best wishes

    Rob and Margaret

  10. Andrew says:

    Hi I would love to have a go at checking the notes and think that it would be good to have helped a little in producing the guide. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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