Sinuous, twisting, carved by glaciers but softened and moulded by fast flowing waters from Pennine rain and the toil of more than two centuries of lead mining, this beautiful valley of Swaledale is the most northerly and perhaps the most praised of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Very much a dale of two parts, with the lower dale below the small market town of Reeth, wooded, almost verdant, as it follows the meanders of the River Swale to the impressive market town of Richmond where the cobbled streets and narrow wynds are dominated by an imposing Norman castle perched high on the bluffs of the river bank.
In the upper dale from Keld to Reeth, the valley narrow and steep sided, the river fast and forceful carving out the rock and forming whitewater cascades such as the force at Kisdon.
The high fells are pocked and scarred by mans past struggle for the lead underground but softened now by weather and time, take on a rugged austere appearance that is in stark contrast to the rich, steep meadows reaching up from the river bed to the grey crags above.
The fields are criss-crossed by a lattice work of drystone walls enclosing sheep and cattle along with numerous stone barns dotted almost randomly that provide the store for winter fodder.
Swaledale is a dale of great variety reflecting mans changing influence on the landscape in which he lives.