Fiction set in the Yorkshire Dales
Artist Ian Scott Massie has collected a series of tales and folklore and illustrated them with his beautiful and distinctive style for Tales of the Dales. Colin Speakman also gathered together local stories into Legends of the Yorkshire Dales. Look out for Ghosts and Other Tales, by Gavin Jones, out in October 2018.
The Yorkshire Dales are peaceful and fairly crime-free and yet the area has somehow inspired a myriad of crime-writers. Local Glenda Calvert enjoys Susan Parry’s series of Yorkshire Dales Mysteries set in the Dales. "Susan lives in Swaledale and I like trying to guess the settings and places as I’m reading. Easy reading for holidays or winter nights. Looking forward to starting Frozen Ground - it is about sheep rustling!" Adam Brunskill by Thomas Armstrong is also set in Swaledale, a novel interspersed with many details of lead-mining which was once so important to the area.
There are yet more deaths in Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton Detective series, all set in Yorkshire in the 1920s including Murder on a Summer's Day (around Bolton Abbey), A Death in the Dales (Langcliffe), and Death in the Stars (Giggleswick and Settle).
I wonder if there's something about the area around Settle and the Three Peaks because it's also inspired another thriller, The Penyghent Blood by Roger Ratcliffe.
After all that crime, you'll probably be ready for something a little more upbeat such as Mary Jane Baker's romantic comedies set in the Dales - the Love in the Dales series including A Bicycle Made for Two and The Perfect Fit.
Children will enjoy Strange Tales in the Dales by avid storyteller Irene Lofthouse who takes original stories and re-imagines them to awake the curiosity. Also for children are the stories of Little Alf by local author Hannah Russell, inspired by her miniature Shetland living in Wensleydale.
Many authors have given their accounts of life in the Yorkshire Dales. Some have become so loved, their works have become collectors' items and much-prized social history. WR Mitchell, or Bill as many knew him, was prolific. He loved people and their stories, and spent much of his life interviewing and collecting tales which give some marvellous insights. Yorkshire represents a time gone by, captured in a fascinating collection of interviews he conducted. His Folk Tales on the Settle-Carlisle Railway remains a popular volume. You can listen some of his interviews thanks to this archive and the work of Settle Stories.
For fantastic social history dip into Marie Hartley & Joan Ingilby's Life & Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Cottage by Ella Pontefract and Marie Hartley as welll as Swaledale, and Wensleydale.
Sheep farmer, Amanda Owen is not continuing the tradition of documenting and recounting farming life in the Yorkshire Dales with The Yorkshire Shepherdess and A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess. Neil Hanson gives a completely different insight into life in the Dales with The Inn at the Top, his account of the trials and tribulations of life as the landlord at Tan Hill, England's Highest Inn.
I bought Haytime in the Yorkshire Dales edited by Don Gamble & Tanya St. Pierre some time ago and still pick it up to dip into the pictures and descriptions of our wonderful flower-rich hay meadows. It covers their biodiversity, traditional farming methods and how they’ve inspired creative people for generations.
Swaledale: Valley of the River by Andrew Fleming is a great book if you’re interested in the history and geology of the landscape, similarly David Johnson’s full history Ingleborough: Landscape and History.
The Dales of Yorkshire: a Portrait by Richard Muir gives insightful accounts of how these much-loved landscapes were created over millions of years, how the market towns, villages and hamlets originated, the history of the churches and monasteries and the meaning of place names.
The Dales landscapes have inspired countless photographers. These two books were recommended - you may wish to add more in the comments below. Open Fell, Hidden Dale by Eliza Forder & John Forder shows beautiful black and white photographs of life in the Dales, and the Dales landscapes themselves, with insightful writing by Arthur Raistrick. Hill Shepherd by John Forder & Eliza Forder has evocative photographs of hill farmers, landscapes, sheep, and great scenery.
Where do we start, where do we finish with a list of great guides to the Yorkshire Dales? Perhaps the easiest is to mention a few local authors and leave you to add your favourites? Look for guide books by Colin Speakman, Mark Reid, Chris Grogan and Jonathan Smith.