Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

The River Swale starts its long journey in some pretty remote moorland on the northern boundary of the Dales National Park. It doesn’t take long to pick up a head of steam, and by the time it passes the small hamlet of Keld – just a few kilometres along its winding course – it’s already carved itself a pretty impressive gorge.
This route traces a pretty challenging line over the moors that line the southern and western flanks of the river, it then crosses it near Keld – where it’s at its most spectacular – and returns via some old mining tracks that hug the eastern and northern banks. The outward leg is a three-up, three-down type of arrangement, with some very stiff but ride-able climbs and some top-notch descents on rough and ready tracks that are typical Dales. The return looks easier on paper, but it actually climbs and rises a lot more than you’d think, and by this stage your legs will be really feeling it. The Pennine Way section is exquisite: fine views and great riding all the way – watch the drop as you plummet into Swimmer Gill. And even the long tarmac section is unlikely to curb your enthusiasm too much; especially the full-speed descent into Gunnerside – how high can you get that speedo?
The final climb is probably one climb too many, but having got this far, you can’t quit now. The views from the top are wonderful, and the descent has plenty to offer too. Save a bit for the riverside return if you can, although you can always stick to the road if you really need to.