River Swale

River Swale


River Swale

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The River Swale is a river in Yorkshire, England and a major tributary of the River Ure, which itself becomes the River Ouse, emptying into the North Sea via the Humber Estuary.

The name Swale is from the Anglo-Saxon word Sualuae meaning rapid and liable to deluge. Annual rainfall figures of 1800mm p.a. in the headwaters and 1300mm p.a. in the lower waters over a drop of 148m in 32 km, gives proof to its name. The river gives its name to the valley through which it flows, namely Swaledale.

The river and its valley are home to many types of flora and fauna typical to the Yorkshire Dales. Like similar rivers in the region, the river carves through several types of rock and has features typical of both river and glacial erosion. The River Swale has been a contributory factor in the settlements that have been recorded throughout its history. It has provided water to aid in the raising of crops and livestock, but also in the various mining activities that have occurred since Roman times and before.


The source of the River Swale is at the confluence of the Birkdale Beck and the Great Sleddale Beck. The river flows north-north east past lead mines on its northern bank and the end of Whitsundale and then easterly towards the first of many waterfalls in the headwaters. After flowing over Wain Wath Force the river continues south east over Hoggarts Leap and Catrake Force near Keld, before it reaches East Gill Force and Kisdon Force. Shortly...
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