Walk 6 The Two Dales Walk:  Castle Bolton to Reeth

This is a particularly fine walk linking the two main northern Dales - Wensleydale and Swaledale, with, in fine weather, glorious views across both valleys, as well as into the lovely little hidden valley of Apedale.   It is also a walk rich in industrial archaeological interest, including some of the most impressive surviving remains of the Swaledale lead mining industry.  There are some strenuous if steady climbs, and time is required to explore the lead mine remains at Grinton, so make sure you have plenty of time to catch your return transport

Distance:  7 miles – 11 kilometres

Time:  Allow at least 4 - 4½ hours

Maps:  Explorer OL30; Harvey Dales North

Refreshments:  Village inn at Grinton Bridge; choice of cafes, pubs, shops in Reeth

Toilets:  Castle Bolton, Reeth

Getting there:

Take the 159 Dales & District Ripon Bus from Richmond Market Place to Leyburn (Mondays to Saturdays). The journey takes 26 minutes. Recommended connection to give you plenty of time to complete this walk leaves Richmond at 1005 only. You will be in good time to catch the 1045 156 bus from Leyburn to Castle Bolton. A single ticket to Leyburn costs around £3.00.

Returning to Richmond

Service 30 leaves Reeth Green for Richmond on Mondays to Saturdays at 1715.  Travel time 25 minutes.

Emergency taxi back-up: Phone 01748 825 112 or 01748 822 269 

Drivers:  There is no advantage in having a car available for this walk. Park in Richmond and use the 159 bus as above.


Start the walk in Castle Bolton Village. The track to Swaledale begins from the village green, about 50 metres east of the Castle, as a stony, enclosed bridleway which winds up to open moorland.  Keep the stone wall about 20 metres to your left and climb the moorland eventually joining a more clearly defined track which swings to the right between wire fences and climbs Black Hill to a gate.  This becomes a fine green way, descending into a shallow valley, Apedale,Apedale past a sheepfold and small farm buildings know as Dent’s Houses at a junction of tracks. Follow the track directly ahead, climbing through heather and grouse shooting butts to the Height of Greet, at a cairn and old mine working.

From the crest of the hill, some 500 metres above sea level, if the weather is clear, there are magnificent views over the surrounding moors into Swaledale.  Continue on the main track as it descends and bears right after the summit, over a stream, eventually joining the Grinton–Redmire road at an informal parking area. 

Straight opposite you will see a deep, almost dry valley. This is Ridley Hush. Hushing was a popular technique in lead mining, whereby a narrow stream close or on a main lead vein was dammed, and after sufficient water had built up behind it,  the dam was released, the scouring action of the water and debris washing out chunks of galena or lead ore which could be hacked out of the stream bed.

This part of Grinton Moor is Common Land, enjoying new public access under the CROW Act.  With care, follow a narrow path along the top right hand edge of the Hush, which descends to a spoil tip.  Cross the beck below the tip to follow the edge of the moor, to emerge at Grinton Smelt Mill. Grinton Smelt Mill

This is perhaps the best preserved relic of the lead mining industry in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales – a substantial building with a nearby peat fuel store, and long stone flue which ascends the hillside, designed to improve the draught in the furnace and to remove toxic fumes of lead.  This water powered mill was built relatively late in the lead mining era and did not enjoy a long life of service.  Interpretive boards in the mill explain the history and how it all worked.

Follow a narrow path to the left hand side of the flue.  About half way up look for a path which branches off to the left, below the scar ahead. This bears left to merge with the bridleway as a grassy track, heading towards Cogdon Hall, soon crossing the Leyburn-Reeth roads. Keep ahead for another 300 metres, but where at a gate, follow the footpath (not visible on the ground) which bears at 45 degrees to the left, descending a shallow stream behind Grinton Lodge Youth hostel where a little gate and stile leads to a narrow path to the stream - to be forded with care.

The waymarked path now leads through fields with a choice of ways into Grinton village, with its welcoming Bridge Inn.Bridge Inn, Grinton It is worth spending a little time to admire the 12th century Grinton Church, before crossing Grinton Bridge and taking the field path past Fremington to emerge at  Reeth.

Once a focal point for the lead mining trade, and now a popular centre for visitors, there are few pleasanter places to end a walk and wait for a bus than Reeth, with its spectacular views, handsome village green, shops, pubs and cafes.  

© Colin Speakman, May 2005. Bus times updated April 2017 - check www.dalesbus.org for updates.

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