Built on a hillside above the River Swale stands the diminutive yet handsome village of Muker. Home to barely 300 people, the village has changed little in hundreds of years and has attractive slate-roofed cottages, dry stone wall and is home to the England’s highest inn.
Muker is popular for walkers as it lies on the path of both the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast.
If you are not familiar with the routes, the Pennine Way is a 268 mile trail that runs from Kirk Yetholm near the Scottish border to Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District. Coast to Coast was devised by the late fellwalker Alfred Wainwright and cuts across three national parks between St Bees in Cumbria and Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast.
Muker is well equipped to serve those stopping off on their travels with its two public houses, plethora of bed and breakfasts and its village store. There is also a gallery and a shop selling handcrafted knitwear made with local wool.
A number of paths from the village cut through stunning hay meadows, with June being the best time to visit as that is when you are most likely to see the fields in full bloom.
One of the most beautiful walks from Muker goes across Hay Meadows, around Kisdon Gorge and up the valley to Keld. The walk passes four waterfalls, which are great places to stop off and take a few photographs, and Keld itself is extremely picturesque as many of its buildings have been lovingly restored by the Keld Resource Centre, an organisation linked to the village’s church.
To the east of Muker is Gunnerside, an equally pretty village which is home to the Old Working Smithy and Museum. Inside you can learn about how lead mining played a vital part in the economy of the Dales for hundreds of years and see demonstrations on some of the methods blacksmiths used to make products.
Early September is a time when many people descend on Muker as that’s when it hosts its annual show. The event begins with the Muker Silver Band marching through the village. After that there are sheepdog trials, fell races and children’s face painting. The band plays the day out with hymns next to the village tearooms.