Purple reigns as heather carpet covers the Yorkshire Dales

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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It is one of the iconic images of Yorkshire. Come late summer the rolling hills of the Dales are covered with a bright purple carpet of heather.

This particular photograph was taken above Reeth in Swaledale and while there are similar scenes across the North Yorkshire countryside, this corner of Yorkshire is particularly special.

It maybe the dramatic moorland skies and the natural amphitheatre which surrounds the Dales town which draws people back to the place time and again. .

Nestled in the heart of the hills, Reeth can trace its roots back to Saxon times. Once a tiny settlement on the edge of a forest, Reeth had grown to sufficient importance by the time of the Norman Conquest to be mentioned in the Domesday Book.

While now one of the prettiest villages in the Dales it was once one of the area’s industrial hubs and while it is hard to believe now in its heyday it was responsible for 10 per cent of England’s entire lead production.

The industry is long gone - dying out in the early decades of the 19th century - but it’s a chapter of history which hasn’t entirely been airbrushed from view.

When walking among the hills, walkers can expect to spot the ruined structures of the once thriving industry. While the loss of traditional jobs hit villages like Reeth hard, its farming community remains strong and in recent decades it has found another income from tourism.

After a stroll around The Green, most visitors head to the Swaledale Museum. Hands-on exhibits and demonstrations tell the story of the local area from the Iron Age to the present day.

It doesn’t yet include a mention of the part Reeth played in British cycling history, but it might eventually. When the Tour de France arrived on British shores in 2014, the Yorkshire Dales enjoyed more than a brief moment in the sun.

Under blue skies and cotton wool clouds the peloton might have sprinted through Reeth in flash, but more have followed in their slipstream, further enhancing the popularity of this part of the Yorkshire Dales.

Tech details: Fuji X100T, 1/300th sec @f8, 400asa

Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Words: Verity Bowman

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