Keld is a small yet enchanting village in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Other than being a charming village to visit, Keld is a fantastic base for doing exceptional walks and exploring nearby waterfalls. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Keld in North Yorkshire.
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About Keld, North Yorkshire
Keld is a tiny village located on the picturesque River Swale in Upper Swaledale. The village lies in North Yorkshire in the county of Yorkshire.
In terms of Keld’s history, the village was founded by Vikings sometime during the 9th or 10th Century. By the 19th Century, at the height of the lead mining boom in Swaledale, around 6,000 people lived in the village. These days, there are less than 100 residents! With the reduction of the population, the village inevitably said goodbye to its school, pub and Methodist Church, although the United Reformed Church is still in use today.
These days, Keld’s biggest industries are farming and tourism. Certainly, many people visit Keld to experience the lovely Yorkshire Dales countryside. Many people visit on day trips or spend the weekend (or longer) in the quaint village. Whilst, both the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast Walk pass through the village. So, many walkers will spend time in the area.
Keld meaning: the name of the village derives from the Viking word ‘Kelda’, which means ‘a spring’. In fact, the village was once called ‘Appletre Kelde’, which means ‘the spring near the apple trees’.
Keld is located in Upper Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the village.
The 5 Best Things to Do in Keld
Now you know where Keld is located, let’s look at the five best things to do during a visit.
1. Keld Waterfalls Walk
The Keld Waterfalls Walk is one of the most underrated waterfall walks in the Yorkshire Dales. By doing this 6.5km (4 mile) walk, you’ll visit seven incredible waterfalls! For your convenience, we’ve listed all of the waterfalls below.
- Catrake Force
- Hoggarths Leap
- Rainby Force
- Wain Wath Force
- Currack Force
- East Gill Force
- Kisdon Force
2. Kisdon Force Wild Swimming
Sure, it’s possible to visit Kisdon Force by doing the Keld Waterfalls Walk described above. Yet, many people visit Kisdon Force without visiting the other waterfalls. That’s because Kisdon Force is one of the best places for wild swimming in Yorkshire. To be fair, some people solely visit Wain Wath Force on the Keld Waterfalls Walk for the same reason – it’s a great place for wild swimming. Definitely, pack your swimmers!
3. Keld to Muker Walk
If you want to explore the glorious Dales countryside nearby, you’ll want to consider the Keld to Muker Walk. Although it’s traditionally walked from Muker to Keld, there is nothing stopping you from starting the walk from Keld. That way, the walk is more convenient to do, especially if you’re staying in or based in the village. During this walk, you’ll visit Crackpot Hall, Swinner Gill and Muker Meadows.
Below, we’ll talk a little bit more about the historical Crackpot Hall and the gorgeous Swinner Gill.
Read more: Other Keld Walks
4. Crackpot Hall
There is much uncertainty surrounding the history of Crackpot Hall. Because of this, the dilapidated structure is shrouded in mystery and is well-known in the area.
It’s believed that Crackpot Hall was initially built in the 16th Century as a hunting lodge. But, Crackpot Hall, as we see it today, is the remains of a farmhouse, which was built in the 18th Century on the site of the hunting lodge. The building was eventually abandoned in 1953 because of subsidence caused by lead mining nearby. These days, the site is a historical attraction.
5. Swinner Gill
Located near Crackpot Hall, Swinner Gill is a supremely beautiful valley, where River Swale continues to flow through to Muker. Along Swinner Gill, you’ll find plenty of breathtaking waterfalls and cascades. Indeed, River Swale is home to loads of gorgeous waterfalls, which are ready for you to chase!
So, there you have it – the five best things to do in Keld!
Other Places to Visit Nearby in the Yorkshire Dales
Now, we’ll look at some of the best things to do near Keld. Let’s start with Buttertubs Pass, which may be a road that you’ll use to get to the village.
Buttertubs Pass is well-known as one of England’s most scenic roads. Located between Hawes and Thwaite as well as connecting Wensleydale and Swaledale, the road incredibly weaves and undulates through an impressive moorland landscape. Certainly, you’ll want to drive along Buttertubs Pass as part of your visit to Swaledale.
Hawes: Dales Countryside Museum
Hawes is a lovely village in Wensleydale and home to many worthwhile attractions. During a visit to Hawes, you’ll need to head to the Dales Countryside Museum, which is where the Hawes National Park Centre is also located.
During a visit to the village, you should also visit the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre and walk to Aysgill Force. Otherwise, you should just simply wander the charming streets of the village, where you’ll stumble upon the stunning Hawes Falls.
Read more: Hawes Visitor’s Guide (coming soon)
Of course, a trip to Hawes isn’t complete without a trip to the magnificent Hardraw Force. After all, Hardraw Force is one of the most famous waterfalls in the UK. Not only is Hardraw Force England’s highest single-drop waterfall, but it also features in the classic film – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. So, you’ll have to tie in a visit to this waterfall when you’re in the area.
Additionally, make sure to visit the nearby Cotter Force – another stunning waterfall, but without the crowds.
Read more: Hardraw Force – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide
Just north of Keld, you’ll find the well-known Aysgarth Falls. Certainly, both Swaledale and Wensleydale are home to countless breathtaking waterfalls. Other than visiting Aysgarth Falls, make sure to also visit the nearby West Burton Falls and Askrigg Waterfalls.
Not too far from Aysgarth, you’ll find Bolton Castle, which is one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval castles. If you’re on the hunt for castles, then you’ll definitely want to head there. FYI – Bolton Castle and Bolton Abbey (guide coming soon) are two completely separate places.
The Wensleydale Railway is another worthwhile attraction to visit and experience near Keld. It’s a heritage railway connecting Wensleydale and Lower Swaledale. The railway offers a historical and scenic trip through these areas of the Yorkshire Dales.
How to Get to Keld
The simplest way to get to Keld is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Discover Cars for very reasonable prices. Also, the website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy. Have a look at car hire from Manchester.
If there is no free street-side parking available, you’ll want to head to the Keld Car Park (AKA the Park Lodge Car Park). This car park isn’t an official Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority car park. It operates with an honesty box system, costing £3 for all-day parking and £2 for short-stay parking. Please let us know in the comments if these prices change.
Although it’s possible to use public transport to get to Keld, we don’t recommend it as services are very infrequent. Also, depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you’ll likely have a slow and tedious journey. If public transport is your only option, we recommend using Google Maps, Trainline and Dales Bus to plan your journey.
Keld is only a small village with a handful of accommodation options. You can find lodging at Keld Lodge, Butt House B&B, Keld Holiday Cottages, Keld Head Farm Cottages, and Swaledale Yurts (AKA Keld Yurts and Keld Bunk Barn). In terms of camping, you’ve got the Park Lodge Campsite (AKA Rukin’s Campsite), which is located right by Keld Car Park.
Of course, if you’re visiting Swaledale from afar and need somewhere to stay, we actually recommend staying near Keld at the Tan Hill Inn.
Tan Hill Inn
The Tan Hill Inn is a famous pub in the Yorkshire Dales. Well-known for being the highest pub in the UK, the country inn is a popular place to visit and stay at in the northwest of England.
The Tan Hill Inn serves excellent pub grub and a variety of beers on tap. Whether you plan on staying at the inn or not, you should at least visit for some food or a drink. Whilst, the ambience at the inn is second to none. With its exposed beams, stone-flagged floor and a roaring fireplace, the pub absolutely nails the traditional English country inn vibe with a comfortable and cosy setting.
In terms of accommodation, you’ll find guests generally have great things to say about staying at the pub. In particular, guests rave about the staff, facilities, cleanliness, comfort and peaceful location.
The inn offers a variety of accommodation types and guest rooms, all with high-ratings, listed below for your convenience.
- Standard King Room
- Twin Room with Private Bathroom
- Superior Double Room with an En-suite
- Family Room with an En-suite
- Bunk Bed in Mixed Dormitory Room
Keld Features and Facilities
Keld has a number of interesting heritage-listed buildings and museums. The Literary Institute, which opened in 1861, has been refashioned as the Keld Resource Centre (AKA the Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre). Whilst, you’ll also find the Keld Old School Living Heritage Museum in the village. By visiting both of these places, you can learn more about Keld’s history.
Given the small population of the village, you won’t find a shop or supermarket there. But, if you’re in the village and feeling a bit peckish, you should head to Keld Green Cafe. Whilst, for something more substantial, head to the Keld Lodge next door.
FYI – you’ll find the public toilets located next to the Resource Centre.
FAQs About Keld, North Yorkshire
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Keld in North Yorkshire.
Where Is Keld?
It’s located in Upper Swaledale in North Yorkshire.
What Is the History of Keld?
Please read the About Keld, North Yorkshire section for information regarding the town’s history.
What Is the Largest Town in Swaledale?
Reeth is the largest village in Upper Swaledale.
- Pennine Way and Coast to Coast Walk: both of these long-distance walks intersect the village. Indeed, a unique way to experience and visit the village is by stopping by during either one of these multi-day walks.
- Best time of year to visit: perhaps, summer is the best time to visit as you’ll likely have better weather for outdoor activities. Yet, heavier rainfall, usually in winter, ensures the waterfalls are flowing even better. And, the village looks truly magical after a dusting of snow. So, it’s really up to you when to visit!
- Explore more of the Yorkshire Dales: make sure to check out more of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. With this in mind, please read our Best Walks and Best Waterfalls guides (coming soon).
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