through Reeth, Gunnerside, and Muker to Keld. Delightful and
varying prospects are unfolded. River and road wind through
wooded slopes and open meadows till Grinton and Reeth are
reached. It is a lonely dale, solitary farm houses here and
there on the
The Handy Guide To Swaledale (No2)
- page 37
hill sides being literally the only signs of human habitation.
Beyond Reeth, the dale takes on a wilder appearance. There
is more of moor, crag, and heather-clad expanse, and less
of smiling meadow. The hills are higher and more savage looking.
Here and there the road climbs up their sides in order to
be out of reach of the swollen river which in winter surges
along the valley. Tributary waters come pouring down the hill
sides, through many a romantic gorge adding their power and
volume to the torrent, and providing a spectacle awe-inspiring
in its grandeur. In summer time the river is placid in comparison,
lazily flowing through deep channels or spreading itself out
in shallow pebble-strewn reaches. There is never-ending delight
in exploring the gills and becks and climbing the heights,
to say nothing of the charms of the dale villages.
Swaledale was formerly all forest, the home of wolves, wild
boar and deer. The "Victoria County History of Yorkshire"
records that "the forests of the Earls of Richmond, besides
that of Wensleydale, comprehended that part of Stainmore included
within the parish of Bowes, all Applegarth and Arkengarthdale.
Of this great stretch of forest Swaledale, carefully protected
by the Wharton family, became the last refuge of the persecuted
red deer, which remained in considerable numbers as late as
1723. The sheltered patches of wood and underwood that afforded
the deer their necessary covert and browse gradually disappeared
through the rapacity of the devouring smelting mills, and
hence the large game finally perished."