Astride the county boundary between Cumbria to the west and North Yorkshire to the east, stands the imposing limestone ridge of Mallerstang Edge. Looking down onto the upper reaches of the idyllic Eden Valley, it is home to the hills of High Seat and the curiously named Gregory Chapel, but more importantly, for us at least, in the space of a kilometre of so it gives birth to three great English rivers. The Rivers Trilogy is a series of three guide books, following the course of these rivers. Each long distance path can be walked individually, or combined with one of the others to create an extended exploration of these waterways and their valleys.
Starting in Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, the Swale Way heads generally north and then east, as it follows the course of the river from its end to its source. The Swale ends as it joins the Ure, from where we walk upstream, through Thirsk and Richmond and into the Yorkshire Dales. Journey’s end lies in Kirkby Stephen, in Cumbria. From here we can choose to follow the Ure, back to Boroughbridge, or continue towards the sea, following the Eden.
The Yoredale Way begins where the Swale Way ended, in Kirkby Stephen. It climbs up to the Mallerstang ridge, to find the source of the Ure, which it then follows; through the splendour of Wensleydale, the bustling market towns of Masham and Ripon, before arriving in Boroughbridge. When combined with the Swale Way it makes a remarkable circular walk through two of the most famous Yorkshire Dales.
The Eden Way begins at the coast and the Solway Firth, finding the River Eden as it exits into the sea. It then follows the river through Carlisle and Appleby, beneath the slopes of the Pennine hills, to Kirkby Stephen and then up to the spring which gives it life, on the Mallerstang ridge. Walkers can then continue on, along the Yoredale Way, or follow the Swale Way in reverse, through Swaledale, to Boroughbridge.