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One of the most northern of the Yorkshire's Dales, often described as the most unspoiled and the most beautiful part of the county

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Swaledale is one of the most northern of Yorkshire's Dales. It's often described as the most unspoiled, and the most beautiful part of the county. In one view, you can take in the steep fells, the vast moorland, and the rainbow of colours that they both contain. The land is dotted with limestone barns, standing on their own in fields of grass. To the north, there are meadows full of wildflowers. They don't cut the grass here until the plants have had chance to take root. Swaledale is full of breathtaking sights like this, making it a strong contender for the best view in Britain.

A typical Swaledale view
Photo Andy Hawkins
The valley is cut through by plenty of streams, flowing down from the mountain. They join up with the River Swale, which flows faster than any other waterway in England. As the river snakes its way round the fields, its contents are thrown over a series of waterfalls. Many of these are close to a main road, making them fairly easy to get to. They often consist of several small drops, which makes them look more like river rapids than proper waterfalls. This means that a few of them, such as Kisdon Force, can be navigated by expert canoeists.

Kisdon Force
Photo robinvanmourik
Aside from such dangerous and exhilarating pursuits this, Swaledale is one of the more remote of Yorkshire's Dales, with a much quieter atmosphere than some of the others to the south. None of its attractions are big or famous. There are no large towns. Instead, it just offers the simple pleasures of the English countryside, with all the peace and quiet you could wish for.
Walking is a popular pastime for visitors. One particularly popular route that passes through here is the Coast-to-Coast Walk, a 300-kilometre long distance footpath that takes in north England's most beautiful places. It was devised in the 70s by the well-known author of walking guides, Alfred Wainwright. Another well-trodden route is up to Fremington Edge, which offers great views of both Swaledale, and elsewhere.

Fremington Edge
Photo miketually
Many of these walks begin in the village of Reeth. This is the biggest settlement in Swaledale, but it's still only home to around 750 people. Its population is boosted by the tourists, particularly in late Spring, when it hosts the Swaledale Festival. This celebration offers musical entertainment, and plenty of guided walks. It's usually a quiet and relaxing affair, which is in keeping with the general atmosphere of the area.

Brass Band playing in the centre of Reeth
Photo richardrichard
Reeth is one of the places where you can buy Swaledale cheese. This product is made using milk taken exclusively from local cows, goats, and sheep. According to legend, cheese making was brought to the area by Norman monks in the 11th century. Nearly a millennium later, Swaledale cheese is still being made.

Swaledale Cheese
Another link to the past can be found on the eastern border of the dale. It's called Nine Standards Rigg, and it consists of nine small stone towers, standing on top of a tall, very visible ridge. Each one is just slightly higher than a person. Their purpose is unclear, but they've been there for hundreds of years. Some people have suggested that they were built by the Romans, to look like soldiers from a distance.

Nine Standards Rigg
Photo John Illingworth

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