Rukins Park Lodge
Swaledale was pronounced by walking guru Alfred Wainwright as the most beautiful of the Yorkshire Dales. With this in mind, a better setting couldn’t be wished for at this riverside campsite.
The river and waterfalls may be the main attraction for kids on this site, making the riverside pitches in the long narrow field at the bottom of the farm the most popular. But the views from the higher fields over the moors are spectacular. And even if you don’t get to pitch on the riverbank, Keld (meaning ‘running water’) has no fewer than five waterfalls surrounding the village, so you can always pack up a picnic or set off to find a perfect waterside patch for a great afternoon of splashing around and paddling (Wain Wath Falls is a top spot).
As well as the long narrow field by the river, with the most sought-after pitches, there is a large sloping field, and owner John can open up other fields as overflow. These actually have better views and more space for games than those by the river. Campfires are allowed here, too. John and his wife Barbara, who farm the land in a way that’s sensitive to the environment, were concerned that fires were contributing to the erosion of the riverbank. But John has come up with his own solution: four-legged fire boxes. These keep the fires off the ground: happy farmers and happy campers.
And if anyone’s still awake when the campfire’s embers finally fade, it’s time to turn to the night sky for a truly awesome star display before tucking the kids into their sleeping bags.
There are 2 showers, 4 toilets (a long walk from the riverside pitches) with hand basins and a washing-up room. The tea shop at the site sells drinks plus bacon rolls and basics. It also sells logs, marshmallows and footpath maps. It’s only a short walk to the nearest falls, and kids can swim in the shallow pools along the river, paddle, mess about with fishing nets from the flattish rocks, or play on the rope swing on the small ‘beach’ just off site.
Tents – yes. Campervans, caravans, groups – no.
Downriver, you can reach the most spectacular falls (Kisdon Force) via the Corpse Way. If it rains head into Hawes (about 8 miles) for the Dales Countryside Museum (01969 666210) with interactive displays. The Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre (01969 667664) has a museum, viewing gallery, cheese shop and restaurant.
Food & Drink
A short walk up the road, Keld Lodge (01748 886259) has a restaurant and also does bar meals, while Tan Hill Inn (01833 628246), about 4 miles away, claims to be Great Britain’s highest pub, with resident animals.
The river has slippery rocks and deep water in places; there is a waterfall not far away.
Keld is just off the B6270 between Kirkby Stephen and Richmond. The campsite is signed from the village.
A bus to Keld leaves Richmond train station 3 times a day.
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