The word “Dale” is reputed to have come from either the German word “Tal” (as in Emmantal) or a Nordic word “Dal”. In either event the meaning is “a valley.” For the major dales they are mostly named after the river which runs through them such as River Swale = Swaledale and River Aire = Airedale. There is one exception to this which is Wensleydale, which was named after a market town (now a village) named Wensley. Sadly it is nothing to do with cheese (bit of a cheese theme going on here) although a number of very fine dairy products are made in the dale. However, neither Wallace nor Gromit live here.
All the Dales Rivers eventually drain into the river Humber via various other channels and ultimately the North Sea. Again there is one exception and this is the River Ribble which runs through Ribblesdale in the north-west of the region, which eventually finds its way into the Irish Sea.
Nobody knows exactly how many Dales there are as many smaller valleys have Dale names only known locally; such as Arkengarthdale in the north, or Mossdale above Grassington which is in Wharfedale. Or Malhamdale which is centered around the popular village of Malham and is the starting point for many a fine stride to the Cove, Tarn, Janet’s (Jennet’s) Foss or Gordale Scar, pictures of which are displayed on this website and elsewhere.
All dales are different in their geology and physical characteristics. All offer their own unique vistas and customs. All offer a vast array of photographic opportunities which I have tried to depict on my website and other outlets. Please enjoy my work and if you visit the Yorkshire Dales please respect the countryside, its people and animals.