The Yorkshire Dales

Within the borders of Yorkshire, the greatest of English counties, there is a wealth of outstanding and diversified beauty, of bleak gritstone fells and long lovely dales. In these dales, added to the natural beauty, is the charm of quiet villages sturdily built of native stone, often clustered round a hoary old church of the same material, perhaps overshadowed by the grim shell of a feudal stronghold or cherishing the fragments of some noble abbey whose meagre ruins are yet eloquent of a former splendour.

- Tom Stephenson, in Lovely Britain, published circa 1950.

The Yorkshire dales will be familiar to most people as the setting of All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot's tales of life as a country vet in the 1930s. They are characterised by open, rolling countryside where sheep roam freely.

In the west, where they meet the eastern borders of the Lake District, the land is bleak and forbidding. The valleys of Garsdale and Dentdale are long and narrow, hemmed by steep hillsides, and the farms are strung along the valley sides, down which flow small streams, called gills in the local dialect.

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