Swale TrailThe recently opened Swale Trail stretches from Keld to Reeth – a distance of 12 miles (20km) – taking you on a low level journey along the valley on tracks and quiet country lanes. Between Reeth and Gunnerside this is an easy mountain bike trail which is mainly traffic free. Along the way are a few climbs, lots of stone tracks and very quiet roads. From Gunnerside to Keld is a bit tougher with a couple of harder climbs, but with stunning views and a more remote feel.
New for 2018 is the Swale Trail a 20km (12 mile) route between Reeth and Keld in the stunning Swaledale. This is a mixture of high quality tracks and very quiet road sections which keeps close to the valley bottom. This is the Dales though, so a bit of climbing is inevitable. The Trail has been designed with families with older children and cyclists with some experience in mind.
You leave Reeth on the road passing the Dales Bike Centre and then make a careful right turn by the Bridge Inn. Then right again along a quiet road to the first off-road section. This takes you along a walled stone track to a more open area and across to the river. A small climb takes you back towards the road. A couple of short sections of tarmac and long sections of easy tracks takes you to the edge of Gunnerside which is a good chance for a stop with cafes and a pub.
The section from Gunnerside to Keld is the harder part (blue grade) with a couple of challenging climbs, but with stunning scenery and a gorgeous section alongside the River Swale. You get to see the remains of the old lead mining industry that was once important and many of the classic hay meadows and field barns for which Swaledale is so well known. On the short steep section across the river at Keld you may wish to walk. Keld may be tiny but has parking, a café, toilets and an interesting museum in a small space.
Remember – this is a multi-user route and you will meet walkers, horse riders and other cyclists. Share the Trail and when you meet people, call out hello and pass wide and slow. You will also meet the occasional motor vehicle both on the roads and some of the tracks as farmers use them to access their fields.
If available, the 'GPX' (or GPS Exchange format) files for each route are text files that can be read by GPS devices as a series of waypoints along each route.