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If ever a village is unspoiled then it is Muker, which on no account should ever be rushed.
Even though this walk is only short it is well worth the drive to reach it because there is so much to see.
I have been interested in natural history all my life and one of the first books I was given showed photographs taken by K Carton.
Close to the Farmer’s Arms pub is the old school on a wall of which are two plaques recording the lives of two of its former pupils, Richard Kearton (1862-1928) who was a prominent naturalist and author and his brother Henry Kearton (1871-1940).
He was also a naturalist but also an explorer and one of the earliest wildlife photographers.
I have no doubt that both the eminent brothers were inspired by natural history and scenery of Swaledale.
THE WALK From the Farmer’s Arms turn left and then left again to reach the church of St Mary the Virgin. This dates to 1580 and its east window is an example of what I think all historic villages could copy.
The stained glass depicts views of the local countryside including the River Swale and its major tributary which is Straw Beck.
The word Beck shows that Muker was once occupied by the Scandinavian’s many of whom settled in the area. Look for a clear sign indicating Keld and pass close to the vicarage.
From the vicarage follow the track uphill and at the bend pass through gates into a wood, then through more gates and turn sharp right to an old barn.
These lovely old barns and stone walls are very much a feature of the Swaledale countryside.
At the Rampsholme footbridge turn right through a wicket gate and follow a very obvious paved footway which in the old days led to the field barns and the lead mines.
The church tower comes into view at this point and also seen are the lovely fells which serve as catchments for the streams and rivers.
Prominent here are Great Shunner Fell, Nine Standards Rigg and the well named Lovely Seat. Return to the starting point at the car park.
These days Muker is still a farming community but gone are the days of the lead mining industry and the knitting of the wool from the fleeces of the local Swaledale breed of sheep.
l Next week: A stroll around the grounds of Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham
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