It’s a picturesque market town with a long history and some wonderful walks nearby, the best known of which is Fremington Edge which gives great views of Swaledale.
A bit of history
The name Reeth comes from old English and means “the place by the stream”. The town itself on the junction of the River Swale and the River Arkle, one of which was, presumably, ‘the stream’ from its name. In Saxon times it was merely a small settlement on the forest’s edge but grew over the years so that by the time the Normans arrived it was large enough to be recorded in the Domesday Book.
Farming was always important in Swaledale, as it still is. Reeth, granted a charter to hold a weekly market and four fairs a year by William & Mary in the 17th century, quickly became the place local farmers went to sell their animals and it continued to thrive as a result. Other industries arrived to help the development of the area. Lead had been mined in the area as far back as Roman times. By the 18th century it had become a significant industry centred on Reeth. The town also became a centre for traditional hand knitting, a natural development from local sheep farming.
Many successful market towns held a country fair each year and Reeth was no exception. Markets and fairs were popular as a way to sell stock, catch up with friends and family and buy both essentials and luxuries needed through the year. Reeth’s Bartle Fair (its charter was granted on St Bartholomew’s Day in 1695) was so popular that at one stage six fairs a year were held as well as the weekly market. Regretfully, many enjoyed them too much. The Fairs became notorious for drunkenness and fighting, and eventually they ceased to be held.
Today Reeth is a more tranquil place, popular with visitors to the Yorkshire Dales who want to enjoy the Swaledale landscape and try the many lovely walks in the area. The town has many tea rooms to relax in, craft shops producing traditional, high quality goods and museums showcasing the history and development of the area.
Reeth Market is held each week on Friday with a large number of stalls set up in the market square offering a wide range of goods.
This independent museum showcases the heritage of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Housed in the old Methodist Day School, built in 1836, in the heart of Reeth, there are a range of collections, displays and exhibitions showing the geology and geography, as well as the growth and decline of local industries.
There is a small entry fee of £3 per adult. Children under 12 accompanied by an adult are free.
More information: The Swaledale Museum website .
Reeth Folk Museum
The Swaledale Folk Museum is based in the Old Merchant School in Reeth. It is a treasure house of over 500 objects connected with life and work in the dale. The Museum can be found off Reeth Green, down by the Post Office shop.
The Museum is open from Easter Monday to 5th September, on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 10.30am- 5.30pm. On Bank Holiday Mondays and Sundays the opening hours are 2pm – 5pm.
The Swaledale Festival runs for 2 weeks around the end May/beginning of June. Although centred in Reeth, the concerts, exhibitions and classes are held in a wide range of locations throughout the surrounding area. The Festival is widely respected in the art world and attracts world renowned musicians, artists, actors and poets from around the world.
More information: The Swaledale Festival website
Where to stay in Reeth
Reeth is a great base from which to explore the whole of Swaledale. There are plenty of places to stay whether you are looking for hotels or bed and breakfast guest houses. Here’s a selection, although there are many more to choose from.
Pubs & hotels
|The Buck Hotel, Reeth, Swaledale, North Yorkshire, DL11 6SW|
|The Kings Arms, High Row, Reeth, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6SY|
Bed and breakfast guest houses
|Arkleside, Reeth, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6SG|
|Cambridge House, Arkengarthdale Road, Reeth, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6QX|
You may also be interested in:
- Bartle Fair, Reeth: The good, the bad and the ugly – Blog post
- More information about Swaledale
- The Swaledale Corpse Way – blog post
- The Swaledale Festival – blog post