The Swaledale Road
Like a lot of people who love the place, my appreciation of the Dales was greatly enhanced by the writing of a Sunderland-born vet. Although he worked from a practice in Thirsk, Alf Wight, who the world got to know better as James Herriot (he took his pen name from the Scottish goalkeeper Jim Herriot), spent a lot of time here. He sometimes worked with a practice partner based in Leyburn and, when he married, chose Coverdale for his honeymoon.
The films and television episodes that followed the success of his books featured many Dales locations and today, over forty years after the publication of his first book, countless people come to the Dales from around the world to find what he found.
Everyone who has read these charming stories has probably placed them in particular favourite Dales locations but, for me, it was in his autobiographical Dales journey James Herriot’s Yorkshire that he made me look at a place that sums up the Dales.
He tells of how he suddenly saw a sight that stopped him in his tracks, and made him realise that the Dales had everything he could ever wish for in a landscape. And in that moment he knew he would never live anywhere else.
If you take the road for Reeth out of Leyburn you pass, as you leave the town behind, a rather grotty quarry on your left and a boring pine plantation on your right. Then the landscape begins to open up but, instead of driving out onto open moorland, you find yourself passing firing range after firing range where the army has literally put the boot into Yorkshire. Once you come to the end of this dispiriting area, however, something wonderful happens. The road crests the brow of the hill and there before you is the view which converted Herriot to the Dales.
To the right, far away, are the Cleveland hills and beyond them the chemistry sets of Teeside, looking like tiny toys in the sunshine. To the left are the heather heights of Grinton Moor, studded with the ruins of the lead mining trade, splashes of green grass marking the places where the rabbits have carved out their grazing rights.
Ahead is Swaledale: farmhouses dotting the valley floor, dry stone walls climbing the fell sides, and hills and ridges marking away the miles to the North and West. It is incomparable. Thank you James.
This story comes from:
Tales From The Dales
A major exhibition of new paintings based on stories from the Yorkshire Dales collected over the last two years. In addition to artwork the exhibition sees the launch of a book for children: The Penhill Giant, which is an illustrated retelling of events which took place on the hill overlooking the exhibition location. The exhibition will also see the launch of a book, illustrated with paintings created for the exhibition, which will include a collection of Dales stories, many of which will be appearing in print for the first time.
The exhibition will be on at:
Wensley Church, Wensley, N Yorks.
10 am - 5 am 27 July – 11 August 2013
Preview: 7 - 9 pm Friday 26th July
A chance to see the paintings and meet the artist.
Stories of the Dales: 5.00 - 6.30 Saturday 27th July
Four Yorkshire writers read from and talk about their work.
Open Mic Night: 7 - 9 pm Saturday 10th August
A great evening of music with musicians from the Yorkshire Dales.
If you would like to perform CLICK HERE
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