Report 9th November 2010

The Magic of The Yorkshire Dales


Mr John Gilleghan MBE, teacher, walker, writer, photographer, speaker, world traveller but, I suspect most of all – lover of the Yorkshire Dales, brightened our day today with his talk: The Magic of The Yorkshire Dales.

This talk started Mr. Gilleghan’s public speaking career more than 50 years ago when he spoke at a ladies group in Headingley.  He had been head of the science department at Leeds grammar school where he led many of his pupils on walks in the dales.  At this time he formed The Hill Walking Club. 

He is eminently qualified to speak on this subject having climbed all of the peaks, some of them more than a hundred times. 

How many dales are there in Yorkshire?  Mr Gilleghan names more than 250 but others say more than 400 when counting the little dales without rivers.  At seven and a half miles long Swaledale is the longest. The talk was illustrated with a series of excellent slides sometimes showing the past and then comparing it with a more modern shot. He gives a mnemonic to help remember the names of the more well known dales:  “They Say United Never Win Away”  Teesdale, Swaledale, Uredale, Nidderdale, Wharfedale, Airedale.       

Starting his talk in the north and then moving southwards in a series of shots, stories, brief local histories, points of interest, folklore and jokes, Mr Gilleghan kept us entertained for more than an hour – a breath of fresh air and sunshine, just what we needed on this dreary day.

George Mountford    


The word Dale now meaning open valley comes from the Old English Dael which also is the origin of the word Dell.  Related to the Old Norse Dalr and the modern Icelandic Dalur.  

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