Following in some of the foot steps of Major F T C Williams, this walk is inspired by “the Maj” who dominated the walking scene in the Dale at the beginning of the new millennium. If I recall correctly, he had a walk called “Surrender Bridge or bust” which started in Healaugh and went straight to Surrender Bridge. I didn’t think that would “bust” anyone, so this walk gets to Surrender bridge the long way round…via the Reeth suspension bridge and Low Row. This makes the sight of Surrender Bridge all the more welcoming! And there is lots of countryside variation: moors, meadows, ruins of an industrial past etc. So, how to do it? Park on the small green at Healaugh (pronounced “he – law”) and take the foot path in the direction of the river walking away from the road. At the river turn left and follow the bank. Eventually you get to the swing bridge which you will cross. Look out for a board giving details of the Swale and how it can quickly turn into a raging torrent in a short space of time. Over the bridge, you will travel back north up the river following it all the way to Isles bridge. On the way you will essentially follow the new Swale trail. Cross the river at Isles bridge and walk into Low Row. Here you could stop to enjoy the Punch Bowl Inn. From Low Row, you travel up into Blades where there are great views up and down the valley. It is a little bit of a steep ascent into Blades, but you should be well warmed up having walked the valley. After passing through Blades, you need to follow the path carefully over the tops, so you really do need a map or GPS to guide you. If you guide yourself well, you will soon be descending into a small stream valley called Hard Level Gill. Cross the stream and right onto a hard track which will take you past the Old Gang Smelting Mill, an eerie structure. Carry straight on and behold: Surrender Bridge. Don’t get too excited and cross the bridge, since the path continues across the road and will take you to another set of ruined smelting mills. You are now walking in the foot steps of the Maj (I think). You continue along the path which will lead you down back to Healaugh via an area called Nova Scotia. In this area, if you are walking in May, you will see plenty of Bluebells giving you a very varied walk of river meadow, wooded banks, moors and industrial ruins. A walk that I am sure the Maj would be happy with.
For the hike: you will need strong footwear, a picnic (save it for Old Gang Smelting Mill) and plenty to drink. In summer, believe it or not, you can get sun burnt – trust me, so do take sun cream. There is a pub in Low Row.
Photos from the walk
In May, as you pass near Nova Scotia you will see plenty of Bluebells
Lots of Bluebells in spring – great on a sunny day