Updated date:

Travel North - 62: Walk from Richmond to Marske in Swaledale

We start in Richmond and make our way down the road westward...

Below the castle, this is the Swale at Richmond, hurtling over rocks, plunging over low falls - dark, rich brown after rainfall with the silt and vegetation wrenched from its roots upriver

Below the castle, this is the Swale at Richmond, hurtling over rocks, plunging over low falls - dark, rich brown after rainfall with the silt and vegetation wrenched from its roots upriver

A period map shows Richmond and villages upriver and away from the River Swale

A period map shows Richmond and villages upriver and away from the River Swale

This pleasant walk/hike some way west out of Richmond starts away from the River Swale...

and closes on the river a few miles out of town. You'll discover it at close quarters below the escarpment above Marske - not to be confused with Marske-by-the-Sea further east - and there are views to savour. Enjoy them as you leave the village. Return to town along the winding river.

On the way:

Take the road west out of Richmond. Not far from a second sharp bend in the road follow a secondary road that takes you up a low hill. After about 400 yards (250 m) leave the houses of Marske village behind where the road becomes a broad track to West Applegarth Farm (the name shows its Norse origins - a 'garth' is an enclosed farm yard that can look like a fortification).

A sign along your way shows the way for the Coast-to-Coast Walk made famous by the late Alfred Wainwright, who published a slim volume with hand-drawn sketches and maps to highlight landmarks and guide the walker safely. He made a TV programme escorted by Derry Brabbs in the 1980s that brought them this way. The next overnight halt on the C2C is at Richmond. Most long walks are signposted one way, and this one is no exception. The route is possibly better followed east-west.to the northern Lake District.

Keep to your lane on a gradual westward turning ascent and take in the views southward over the Swale in the direction of Wensleydale.

(Well) away from the hurly-burly

Autuimnal break at Marske in Swaledale - it's a good time to take this walk, the weather being more settled

Autuimnal break at Marske in Swaledale - it's a good time to take this walk, the weather being more settled

The dwellings on the way out of Marske  before you get to West Applegarth Farm on the way up to Whitecliffe Woods.

The dwellings on the way out of Marske before you get to West Applegarth Farm on the way up to Whitecliffe Woods.

Seen from Marske, the lowering teights of Whitecliffe Scar escarpment. You can see this geological fault as you drive west from Richmond to Reeth along the River Swale

Seen from Marske, the lowering teights of Whitecliffe Scar escarpment. You can see this geological fault as you drive west from Richmond to Reeth along the River Swale

A pleasant gradient to Whitecliffe Woods

A pleasant gradient to Whitecliffe Woods

After a mile the track takes you into Whitecliffe Wood, a little way past High Leases Farm.

This is old an varied deciduous woodland, and a half mile of pleasant walking, seemingly a world away from the earlier open grazing land.

Not long after you leave the woods a short path heads up to the earth ramparts of an old Briton hillfort, possibly once belonging to the Brigantes, a warlike tribe of Celts who migrated from mountainous Central Europe and felt at home in the surrounding hills. A worthy detour with excellent long, wide views to take in before going back to your walk route.

East Applegarth Farm is next, a few hundred yards further. The track is now a footpath, carried on over a barely noticeable gradient that follows beneath the escarpment. Here is Whitecliffe Scar, a relic of the most recent glacier withdrew a bare 15,000 years ago - minutes in earth's geological calendar - exposing limestone bedrock.

Retrace your route to West Applegarth Farm along the farm track. A half mile further downhíll leave the farm track to cross pastureland back to Marske. The village was once the hub of a large lead mining area that spreads up along Swaledale almost to its head near Keld and dates back to the reign of Elizabeth I. The bridge can be dated back to then.

Marske Hall was built around the same time, although it is surrounded by dense tree growth that makes the approach to it difficult. Close by is an attractive stone- built church and village hall that occasionally serves tea..

In Downholme, a mile on by the Swale the Little White Bus (Dalesbus) stops at the vicarage. You may prefer to retrace your outward walk back to the farm at Low Applegarth. Before you leave the lee of a dry stone wall a path takes you south and then east, downward through fields to the River Swale. In places it can be wet after the river surges following heavy rainfall, and a bit boggy since the heavy rains and flooding in the summer of 2019. All the same there;s a picturesque three mile walk to the caravan park on the outskirts of town.


Sketch map of the walk west from Richmond and return by Downholme

Sketch map of the walk west from Richmond and return by Downholme

The Swale Way, a pleasant stroll on a dry summer's day, however...

The Swale Way, a pleasant stroll on a dry summer's day, however...

Flood warnings in place during the wet summer of 2019. Brief yourself on the weather prospects before launching yourself on this walk

Flood warnings in place during the wet summer of 2019. Brief yourself on the weather prospects before launching yourself on this walk

Things you'd like to know, and things you need to know:

Parking in Richmond -

There are two public car parks at reasonable day rates. One is on the main road to Reeth, back-to-back with the cricket ground. It's small but convenient, although that much more expensive - limited space - than the large one nearby. It's hidden from view here, but can be reached by taking the turn opposite the small filling station, and the first left opposite the cricket ground. A pedestrian exit brings you out onto the Reeth road - A6108 - that you will follow out of town. Limited roadside parking is also available - although on most days not for long - on the west side of town along your route;.

Walk distance, going and elevation reached -

around 10 miles in all, 6 miles to the bus stop at Downholme; The climb takes you up to 1,310 feet or 400 metres, start at Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: NZ169011; medium to hard going, some steep ascent to the escarpment, otherwise largely hardly noticeable on good tracks and paths.

Richmond

The town has all the catering and retail outlets a large market town can offer, with a fish & chip cafe by the church in the main market square - now the Green Howards Military Museum - restaurants, pubs and hotels, many of which form a ;ring' around the market square (where a funfair is situated once every year in summer).

Always be ready

The weather can close in unexpectedly, and mists form in this sometimes deep river dale. Wear good water-resistant boots - not trainers - and pack good easily accessible weather-proofs; carry an Ordnance Survey Map. Map cases are available in town, with plastic rain-proof covers that allow you to fold your map(s) to enable you to follow your route without continually opening and folding; take a compass just in case the weather does close in and you can't see over distances. -such as when visibility is down to a couple of hundred yards .

.


© 2020 Alan R Lancaster

Comments

Alan R Lancaster (author) from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on March 01, 2020:

Thanks Umesh. Maybe you could do a walk, somewhere near Mumbai maybe? i'm sure the scenery and connections for transport (for those without their own means) are as good. I see from my trusty Times Atlas that you've got hills to the east. Unless you've got tigers there they're probably worth an exploration...

Plenty more to come yet in North Yorkshire. I've got more of the Moors and Coast to cover yet.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 01, 2020:

Very well presented. As if we are walking there. Nice reading.

Alan R Lancaster (author) from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on January 31, 2020:

Hello again Dora... Enjoyed your visit then. Aye, it puts hairs on yer chest! Or words to that effect. When the Normans came one of William;s kinsmen and supporters was given this land for services rendered. His name, Alan 'Rufus', cousin of Count Alan of Brittany and son-in-.law of William. He was a fair-minded lad, and well liked. I've got his name (but not his hair colour). There are lots of Alans in my generation in the North of England.

The landscape lends itself to energetic walks... and plenty of pubs to sink a few pints with your food! There are several pages on my profile regarding walks and drives in the area, check them out.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 31, 2020:

I imagine that a leisurely (or brisk) walk in the fresh air on these hillside paths would be refreshing and beneficial to one's health. Even the thought of it is invigorating. Thanks for sharing with pictures.

Alan R Lancaster (author) from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on January 27, 2020:

Maybe you should (have walked further). I walked up to the top of Swaledale a long time ago and then over Buttertubs Pass into Wensleydale. The air's nice and fresh after a spot of rainfall - but not the 'spot' of rainfall' they had last summer! - for a walk or hike upriver and away to Marrick and Marske. I suppose you've come across the other Marske (between Redcar and Saltburn - that's a nice walk as well. There is another page I did about that neck of the woods some time back, seen it?)

Got some more ideas for walks I'll put on here. Glad you enjoyed this one, that brought back memories. I've been up this way lots of times, to and beyond Richmond.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 27, 2020:

This brings back great memories of the Swale at Richmond, which I recall as being very photogenic in the autumnal light. It looks like we should have walked further.