Right at the top of the Yorkshire Dales is the lovely region of Swaledale. It’s home to the market town of Richmond along with a selection of pretty villages, all of which make Swaledale is a great choice for a short break or holiday. You’ll find plenty of walks and cycle rides to try, not to mention country pubs, museums and even alpaca trekking!
Here are our top ten things to do in Swaledale:
1. Explore Richmond Castle
This Norman castle is located high on a hill above Richmond, so it’s a great spot to drink in some stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales. We recommend a stroll through the pretty cockpit garden just outside the castle walls, before heading to one of the picnic benches for some refreshments.
If you want to learn more about the castle’s fascinating history, there’s an interactive exhibition in the visitor’s centre.
2. Walk along the River Swale to Easby Abbey
One of the nicest things about Richmond is its proximity to the River Swale and you can take a very pleasant riverside walk from the town along to Easby Abbey. It’s free to explore the well-preserved 12th-century remains, and you can then enjoy a stroll back to Richmond.
3. Enjoy the view from Reeth village green
There are lots of things to love about the pretty Swaledale village of Reeth. You’ll find an array of tearooms, shops, pubs and a market selling local produce every Friday. One of our favourite things to do is to get ice cream from the local parlour, sit on a bench and enjoy 360-degree views of the Dales. Sometimes the best things in life are free!
4. Treat yourself to lunch at The Punch Bowl in Low Row
Another lovely Swaledale village, just along from Reeth, is Low Row which is home to The Punch Bow Inn. This well-loved gastropub is a great choice for a bite to eat with lots of local produce on the menu. You also can’t beat the scenic position of this traditional 17th-century inn.
5. Go on an alpaca trek!
Make walking in Swaledale even more special by going on an alpaca trek with Reeth based firm Alfresco Adventures. The Alpacas are called Larch, Aramis and Apollo and in the summer months, you can see them grazing in the fields around Low Row.
6. See a traditional Blacksmith at work
Located in the village of Gunnerside is the Old Working Mill and Smithy, a museum showcasing lead mining in the area with items made by the working Blacksmiths over the years.
You’ll still find a Blacksmith at work today. Stephen Calvert is the sixth generation of Blacksmiths in his family to work at the Smithy and he crafts items for sale in the on-site shop.
7. Enjoy a challenging bike ride
Swaledale is well-known for its cycling, having played host to the Tour de France in 2014. You’ll also find the Dales Bike Centre where you can hire a bike and get some refreshments.
There are lots of tough climbs to try and the annual Ard Rock bike challenge takes place in Swaledale each August. If you want something a little gentler, an easier cycle route opens April 2018 between Reeth and Keld.
8. Visit a Georgian theatre and a Victorian station
There’s plenty of historic buildings in the market town of Richmond and among our favourites to visit is the Georgian Theatre. Here you can watch a show or go on a tour where you can see The Woodland Scene, the oldest surviving stage scene in Britain.
It’s also well worth heading to The Station – a restored Victorian railway building that’s home to an art gallery, cinema and micro-brewery amongst other things.
9. Warm up in a hand-crafted Swaledale woollen jumper
You’ll find Swaledale Woolens in the village of Muker and the shop was originally founded by locals in the 1970s to revive the traditional knitting industry. The wool used comes from local Swaledale sheep and is handcrafted by over 30 people knitting in their homes.
10. Step back in time at the Swaledale Museum
This charming little museum in Reeth has lots of artefacts and information about Swaledale and neighbouring Arkengarthdale, from pre-historic fossils to lead mining, farming and local crafts. The friendly staff will be more than happy to help you discover some local history.