Tucked away in the corner of Arkengarthdale and Swaledale, the village of Reeth is an attractive tourist centre with a huge open green that hosts a small but popular market each Friday.
Reeth has been described as heaven for cyclists as it has a number of tracks that are ideal for bikes. Even if you have not brought your bike with you there is no reason not to take in the breath-taking hills on two wheels as he Dales Bike Centre in nearby Fremington has cycles and equipment available for hire.
The west side of Reeth Green has an impressive row of 18th and 19th century buildings, including the Black Bull pub. Just to its left is the gable end of what was once another pub, the Half Moon. Thirsty walkers returning to Reeth still have a choice of 3 pubs and several cafes.!
Whether on foot or saddle, you are likely to see an abundance of wildlife around Reeth as the area is home to many rare and migratory birds. If you are really lucky, you may even get to see a black grouse.
Without question Reeth is a rural village, but it was once a major site for lead mining. Exhibits from the village’s industrious past can be seen at the Swaledale Museum, which is run by volunteers and is situated by behind Reeth’s post office.
The last week in May and the first week in June are a busy time in Reeth as it hosts the much-loved Swaledale Festival. A winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award, the festival features live music, poetry recitals and guided walks.
Down the hill towards the River Swale from Reeth is the hamlet of Grinton which has a church with quite a history.
Originally built during the 13th century, St Andrew’s was once the main place of worship for the whole of Upper Swaledale and even today it is often referred to as the ‘Cathedral of the Dales’.
It had a congregation that was so dedicated that pallbearers often had to carry bodies in wicker coffins from as far away as Keld, 16 miles to the east. The footpath that runs between the villages has been named Corpse Way because of this and walkers can still see flat stones that were used for placing the coffins on whenever the carriers needed a rest.
You cannot visit Reeth without spending at least a day in nearby Richmond. The historic town has a number of landmarks, with Richmond Castle being the most revered. Constructed from 1071 onwards, the castle was home to Alain Le Roux de Penthievre of Brittany, who was a companion of William The Conqueror.
Following the Norman conquest of 1066, Le Roux was made First Lord of Richmond and given the task of quelling rebellions in the region. The castle was a key fortress and it continued to serve a military purpose until as late as the 19th century as it was used as an army barracks.
Also close is Easby Abbey, which has a history going back to 1152 and features some stunning pieces of architecture despite much of it being in ruins.