The village lies thirteen miles, as the crow flies, north-west of Harrogate, half-way between Nidderdale and Wharfedale, its height above sea level being about 1,300 feet.
The village consists, in reality, of two villages, Greenhow Hill, situated in the dip between the Greenhow and Coldstone hills and the much older village, Keld or Kell Houses, which consisted of half a dozen houses that
clustered round Craven Kell, and running up to the edge of the moor at Craven Cross. The parish boundary, which runs along Kell Dyke, divides the village into two parishes; on the east side the majority of the village is in the Parish of Bewerley, while that on the west is in the Parish of Appletreewick.
In the past, the land hereabouts belonged to Fountains Abbey, which built a small, two-roomed cottage close to Craven Kell, past which the pack track led. Here two monks used to live, whose business was partly to succour wayfarers in this once so wild spot, partly to prevent lead ore-poaching, and probably they also tended the Abbey sheep.
The village is extremely exposed, and the fact that only a few houses have doors facing north and west speaks volumes for the climate.