Many visitors are also finding it has something else as well, a special essence that city dwellers may struggle to find closer to home: a strong sense of community. Sometimes that means that locals are a bit clannish, less ready to share their place with outsiders. That’s definitely not the case in Keld where locals are doing everything they can to make sure visitors feel thoroughly welcome.
Keld isn’t a big place, t's quite isolated and subject to 'proper weather' in Winter. It was once home to around 6000 souls at the height of the lead-mining industry but that's long since changed. Keld Public Hall and Reading Room, dated 1926 was once where locals met to read papers, put on plays and dances. Those times are long gone. The Public Hall was woefully underfunded, with no obvious source of income for the costs of power, insurance and repairs. A local B&B owner, Jacqui, came up with a handy solution that also benefits visitors.
In the Winter, Keld Lodge and the Rukins’ tea rooms are closed. But walkers still visit. Jacqui got used to bedraggled, cold, wet, thirsty and hungry visitors knocking on the door of Butt House B&B in the fervent hope that she might be able to help them find somewhere to eat or drink.
Her suggestion for the other members of the committee of the Public Hall was simple: a quick lick of paint for the Reading Room, and ask locals to donate some tea, coffee, milk, juice and cake. They agreed, added an honesty box and some old towels for wet dogs and opened the doors.
The visitors book shows just how welcome walkers find this refuge on a cold winters day. They’re full of praise too for Doreen Whitehead’s famous cakes. The locals all pull together to make cakes, clean up and wash dirty tea towels. At the end of the Winter they were able to tally up the total and pay for much needed repairs. A grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) meant they could also buy a log burner for an added welcome. They don’t compete with other local businesses – they close as soon as the other tea room re-opens in Spring. They now have an ongoing programme of refurbishments and are even happier to see cold, bedraggled, thirsty walkers!
This isn’t the only community project in Keld. Many visitors will have already been to Keld Countryside & Heritage Centre where there are really interesting and informative displays about Keld and surrounding area. There's also a lovely room upstairs for events and gatherings.
In February 2017, a group of about 12 Keld and Angram residents cleared a derelict area behind Keld chapel. With advice from YDNP they planted suitable grasses and trees, and opened the Community Orchard in May 2017. It’s cared for by local volunteers, and visitors are welcome to go in and enjoy the peace or sit on one of the benches made by volunteer Derek Bowhay to enjoy the stunning views.