Old Yorkshire Folksong:
Beautiful Swaledale the land of rest,
Beautiful Swaledale I love thee the best,
The land it is set in a cultivate style,
The extension of Swaledale is twenty long mile.
One thing that has to be said about Swaledale is that there is never a shortage of water! The River Swale runs clean through the middle of the dale, starting up on the fells in Birk Dale, West Stones Dale and Whitsun Dale. Each of these little offshoot-dales has its own beck and they join by Wain Wath Force (Force is the Yorkshire name for a waterfall) and together become the Swale - said to be the fastest flowing river in England and capable of rising twenty feet in an hour (and it often does, cutting off villages until it has gone down again.) When it is in spate it makes a noise like an express train. It flows through the little town of Richmond (see my earlier post some weeks ago) and out into the countryside, eventually to join the Ouse and then flow into the North Sea, via the Humber Estuary. The little beck which flows through our land flows into the Swale and I am often tempted to make a little paper boat and then drive down to the mighty Humber Bridge to watch it go under (there's another project for Seth on The Altered Page!)
Once the Swale begins its journey as a "proper" river, the first bridge it goes under is in the little hamlet of Ivelet.
On Sunday the farmer and I took Tess along the banks there after first going over the steep little bridge = so steep that the road almost comes to a point on the top. Here and there was the odd primrose; in the distance we could hear the clatter of some farm machinery; nearer to hand was the calling of the lambs for their mums (Swaledale sheep, of course).
The river was in benign mood, tinkling along with here and there little becks joining in. There were dippers and a grey heron to be seen and Tess had a marvellous time sniffing at every mole hill -= of which there were plenty. Yes - when this river is gentle it makes a most inviting walk. But when it is in full spate then it is best to keep away.
You will see that I have put on a photograph of tree roots - that is an alder growing along the bank side, which becomes an alder growing in the river everytime there is a flood. Enjoy the photographs. I'll leave you with the chorus of the folk song:-
In that beautiful dale,
land of the Swale,
how well do I love thee,
how well do I love thee
Beautiful dale, land of the Swale
beautiful, beautiful dale.