The Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire - Framed Picture - 12" x 16"
The Dales comprises river valleys and the hills, rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed. In Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Garsdale, the area extends westwards across the watershed, but most of the valleys drain eastwards to the Vale of York, into the Ouse and the Humber.
The word dale, like dell, is derived from the Old English word dæl. It has cognates in the Nordic/Germanic words for valley (dal, tal), and occurs in valley names across Yorkshire and Northern England. Usage here may have been reinforced by Nordic languages during the time of the Danelaw.
Most of the dales are named after their river or stream. The best-known exception is Wensleydale, which is named after the small village and former market town of Wensley, rather than the River Ure, although an older name for the dale is Yoredale.