Having spent some time last year in the Yorkshire Dales, we decided to return for a short break.
We were based at the Kearton Country Hotel in Thwaite, arriving Sunday and leaving on Wednesday. We discovered the hotel by accident last year whilst out driving.
The hotel, which has a cafe/restaurant open to non-residents, is relatively small, with 12 rooms. Our room was at the front of the hotel; it was clean, comfortable and quiet.
We stayed on a bed, breakfast and evening meal basis. The food was good, albeit the evening menu was not huge. The hotel operates a fixed time for dinner (8.00pm to 9.00pm) which some might find restricting but we found worked well for us, service was quick and everyone ate at the same time, which encouraged guests to socialise in the large, comfortable lounge.
Having arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday, we wasted no time in getting the gear on and had a quick walk from the hotel to the neighbouring village of Muker (about 2 miles return), returning in time for a drink before dinner.
The walk we chose for Monday started outside the hotel, took us over Kisdon Hill, via the Pennine Way, to the small village of Keld ( the highest village in Swaledale evidentially), back along the River Swale to Muker, and then back to Thwaite. The walk was a little over 8.5 miles.
The start of the walk was quite steep, with a bit of scrambling necessary, but the reward was magnificent views in all directions. A more gentle walk, still following the Pennine Way, above the river valley brought us into Keld. There is a small shop and public loo in the village, but no pub. Thankfully we had ordered a packed lunch from the hotel before we left, so were fully provisioned!
The route from Keld towards Muker took us along the opposite bank of the river, via a fairly rough farm track, again with magnificent views.
Muker is another small village, with a good tearoom (we recommend the toasted tea cakes), pub, village store and an expensive sweater shop. A short walk through meadows brought us back to Thwaite, for drinks and dinner.
On Tuesday we decided to drive 20 miles to the town of Ingleton, to do the waterfalls trail.
Parking at the entrance is free, but entry to the walk itself is £6 per person. We had both visited the falls before, albeit over 30 years ago, and it was clear where the entrance fee was being spent, with plenty of strong protective barriers, concrete steps on some of the more steep sections and a couple of nice viewing platforms that span the falls, all having been recently added.
The trail begins in Ingleton itself, goes up the valley along the River Twiss, across the valley at the top, and descends back into Ingleton along the valley of the River Doe. There are numerous waterfalls along both valleys, and although the water levels in the rivers were quite low, the falls were still spectacular. The walk was just over 5 miles.
As a short break destination we would definitely recommend Swaledale. There is a good mix of stunning scenery, lovely villages and towns (Leyburn and Hawes are both worth a visit), and plenty of well marked walks. We would also recommend the Kearton Country Hotel, either for a leisurely lunch or a longer stay.
We are definitely intending to visit again.