ROYAL BLUE in KINGSDALE - Copy (2).jpg


Spending time out in the Dales is always a pleasure – and the area near Ingleton is astounding. Here at the Western edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) is some of the most spectacular scenery – this is THREE PEAK’S country!

Just in to the Park from Ingleton, Ingleborough towers above the Dale with its challenging shapes: ancient horizontal limestone steps and steep plunging slopes of scree. (photo taken on my walk)


A couple of miles north is the huge curving shoulder of Whernside (photo below), formed by the strong and mighty millstone grit over-layering the limestone.

Big scenery indeed.

I enjoy my ramble and drink it all in – then look again. Trying to ignore these iconic peaks is tricky, but if you re-focus you are richly rewarded.

Just below Whernside to the north is KINGSDALE with incredible scenery of its own on offer. What an amazing find - with more geological puzzles to solve…

My sketch foreshortens it – the distance you see from its upper contours on the left to the curious bump in the valley bottom on the right is 3 miles. Whernside and Ingleborough peak out above Kingsdale’s upper moors to the south, trying to attract your attention. But I ignore them and enjoy Kingsdale itself.

Kingsdale Beck travels towards the west (to the right in my sketch); once it leaves this part of the valley it crashes down Ingleton Falls and eventually drains into the Irish Sea. To explain the Dale’s strange shapes requires quite a lot of geological knowledge, and a re-visit to the ice-age. That odd bump at its western end is terminal moraine – glacial debris leftover when the ice melted. This damned the valley, and a meltwater lake formed here – imagine this filled by a lake…

(Photo looks up the Dale towards the east, taken from the terninal moraine bump)

(Photo looks up the Dale towards the east, taken from the terninal moraine bump)

Eventually the water found a way through the bump of terminal moraine, and the lake drained away. But the silt it left behind created rich fertile soil – fabulous pasturelands protected on three sides by huge moors and on the fourth by our small bumpy hillock….

What a lot to take in! I gaze again at the strong upper contours and begin to find my compositions here….

With the royal-sounding name I muse that the real dominant forces are the underlying rocks and the weather itself, and I focus on those.

At the top of the dale the underlying millstone grit creates beautiful rounded contours; a few stone walls try to tame this high landscape but the clouds seem to be the star performer; what a joy to celebrate them in ‘CROWNING GLORY’…

Yorkshire Dales’ weather can change quickly: later the same day the sky cleared, suddenly showing off more of its beautiful blue.

The moors flanking the northern side of the dale are a celebration of limestone, and the sudden sunshine allowed the greens to dance amongst the escarpments. I thought my painting aptly named: ‘ROYAL BLUE’.

But a puzzle remained… I hadn’t yet discovered the origins of the Dale’s royal-sounding name. I turned to my friends at the YDNP for help…

Their answer was quite conclusive: ‘Kyen’ is an ancient norse word; and ‘Dael’ is old English. Put them together and ‘Kingsdale’ emerges. But the meaning?

Well, it turns out that the locals understood the real gem of this beautiful valley, and it goes back to that rich pasture formed on the silt from the ancient glacial lake. Beautiful pasture usefully protected on all sides….. ‘KYENDAEL’ means ‘the valley where the cows are kept’!

Maybe I need to refocus again?