Length: 12.64 miles. Height change: 1,510ft. Time: 2hrs 13mins.

Unless you have a bike, the best place to start is at the Dales Bike Centre just outside Reeth where you can hire bikes and also enjoy the cafe or cakery at the start or end. If you do have a bike, start on Reeth green where there is ample parking. The route can then devided into two:

Reeth to Gunnerside: Easy. Essentially the route runs along the southside of the valley by the river with a few small climbs. Gunnerside makes a great stopping point for food and drink at the Kings Head. Here you can then decide to continue or return the way you came. Below we also suggest an alternative return route if you have more energy.

Gunnerside to Keld: Moderate. Leaving Gunnerside the route becomes more technical and harder with a couple of challenging climbs, but with stunning scenery and views. 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 is tiny but has parking, a café, toilets and an interesting museum in a small space.

The length, elevation and time figures are one way and for a reasonably fit cyclist starting at the Dales Bike Centre.

Check out the interactive maps and alternative short route below.

Download file for GPS

Places to eat AND DRINK

In low season, some cafes have extended closed periods. Do check the links before setting out and if in doubt take a packed lunch. There are plenty of places to eat and enjoy views enroute! Click on the name to see location on the map.

Dales Bike Centre cakery. The food is designed for mountain biking. Absolutely perfect at the end of a ride. It is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. In low season, the cakery is most likely to be open. Click here to see the cake selection.

The Bridge Inn, Grinton. If you need something strong to drink and a full meal, then the Bridge Inn is only a short walk from the Bike Centre. Open all year round. Click here to learn more.

The Kings Head, Gunnerside. Perfect for a midway refresh before the climb or the halfway point if only riding the easy section. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays except bank holidays and open 12:00 – 2:30 & 6:00 – 8:30 for food. Click here to learn more.

Keld Green Cafe. Just outside Keld up the hill. Relatively new to the dale, but worth a visit. Open 9:00am to 4:30pm except Wednesday. Check their facebook page though, since can change at short notice.

Keld Lodge. Again just outside Keld and up the hill. Full service pub but typically closed in low season. Learn more here.

If you want to visit Muker and the amazing Teashop which you can learn about here, we suggest riding back from Keld via the road and picking up the Swale Trail at Gunnerside Bridge. Walking your bike through the fields to Muker is difficult with the tight styles.

You can also detour to the Punch Bowl in Low Row, which has excellent views and a perfect stop on the alternative short route. Learn about the Punch Bowl here.

ALternative short route

Perhaps you want to cycle more than Gunnerside and back, but not cycle the whole route?

If this is you, then we suggest this alternative route which turns back at Gunnerside but the route goes up onto the Corpse Way giving amazing views up and down the valley before decending into Low Row.

At Low Row, you can stop at the Punch Bowl Inn for refreshment before cycling to Isles Bridge, across the Swale and then picking up the Swale Trail for the return journey.

This route will not disappoint. The ride along the top between Gunnerside and Low Row is terrific followed by a fast drop into Low Row – do be careful of the gate across the road between Blades and Low Row followed by a sharp double hairpin.

The map to the side gives the route and elevation information.

It is approx 11 miles out with 5 miles return, an ascent of 1,082ft and a run time of about 2hrs 15 mins.

Download file for GPS

The off road adventure begins… leaving Grinton

Evidence of medieval strip farming

Stepping stones to Grinton

Looking over to Healaugh.

Low Lane – an ancient drovers road and looking over to Low Row. In spring the edges of the lane are covered in wild flowers and wild garlic.

Running along the valley bottom to Gunnerside: Cow ‘Us, stone walls and wild flowers.

On the climb out of Gunnerside.

View down to Muker across stone walled fields with plenty of Cow ‘Us.

Looking up to Swinner Gill. Lead mining ruins and Crackpot Hall.

Highest point – I need a rest!

Stone barn at Keld

Made it! It was October so had a packed lunch followed by cake in the cakery upon my return to the Dales Bike Centre.