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back to Book Reviews

by Roly Smith with photographs by Mike Kipling.
Frances Lincoln Limited ISBN 978-0-7112-2636-4

SwaledaleSwaledale stretches from Hollow Mill Cross on Great Shunner Fell where the River Swale rises, down to Myton-upon-Swale where it joins the River Ure, which in turn becomes the River Ouse. This book, however, concentrates on the dale west of Richmond, the area best known to walkers. The river’s name comes from the Old English meaning ‘the whirling, rushing river’: in its upper reaches, the Swale has the steepest gradient of any major English river – about 1 in 160.

The text and photographs take the reader from the wilds around Muker, through the scarred landscape of the lead mining areas, to the picturesque villages of Gunnerside and Reeth, through pastures and wildflower meadows and culminates in the splendour of Richmond with its great medieval castle and graceful 18th-century bridge. The book also covers neighbouring Arkengarthdale, one of the wildest and remotest dales of North Yorkshire.

There are chapters on the history of Richmond, the agricultural shows in the dale throughout the year, and the lead mining industry. Roly Smith’s writing, as befits a former chairman of the Outdoor Writers’ and Photographer’s Gui ld for 12 years, flows as crisply and clearly as the river he describes, whilst Mike Kipling’s photographs capture the dale in all its glory throughout the changing seasons.

For those of us who have regularly walked in this part of the Yorkshire Dales, it is a nostalgic journey to old haunts whilst for those who have not yet experienced the delights of Swaledale, it is a superb appetiser of treats in store.

An excellent read, with some outstanding photographs, I would highly recommend this book to Society members.

reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2