Dentdale a small, attractive valley in the northwest of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Although now in Cumbria it was historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The River Dee runs through the valley but it is named after the village of Dent.
The world famous Settle-Carlisle Railway goes across the top of the dale at Dent Head. There are no major towns in the dale but there smaller settlements – Dent, Cowgill, Gawthrop, Lenacre and the wonderfully named Rash.
- One of the prettiest of the Yorkshire Dales
- Highest railway station in England
- Home of the award winning Dent Brewery
- Annual Dent Music and Beer festival
- Village Heritage Centre
- Lovely walks and scenery
A bit of history
Both place name and dialect evidence indicate that Dentdale area was settled by Irish-Norse invaders in the 10th century although there is evidence that the Romans passed through Dentdale.
Farming became the main industry of the area and the dale was one of the last of the Yorkshire Dales to be “enclosed”. Dent’s Enclosure Award was made in 1859. This was the process which ended traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay or grazing livestock on common land. Under enclosure the land was fenced and given or sold to individual owners.
The village of Dent was well established by the Middle Ages, with a grant to hold a market and a Fair being held in June each year. The fair would have been an important community event with families from the outlying farms congregating in the village to mingle, shop and catch up on local gossip.
Farming also spawned another industry linked to farming. By 18th century, knitting had become an important means of generating additional income in the area with many men and women knitting while walking to and from the fields. Gloves and socks were produced in huge quantities.
The people of Dentdale were also fervently Catholic with many taking part in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, a popular rising against Henry VIII’s split with Rome and the dissolution of the Monasteries in England.
Dent and Dentdale today
Dent today is a thriving village (the only village in Dentdale), with delightful cobbled streets and a range of local businesses, many of which are aimed at visitors to the area. A fountain of pink granite in the village centre, where the three cobbled streets meet, commemorates Dent’s links with Adam Sedgwick, (1785-1873), professor of geology at Cambridge University, who was one of the greatest field geologists of his time.
Arthur Wainwright said, in his ‘Pennine Journey’, that “Dent is not of this world. It’s a fairy tale and who believes in fairy tales these nowadays? It’s a place of cobbles, of jutting gables, overhanging roofs, quaint alleys, wooden galleries and outside staircases”.
Dent Village Heritage Centre
Designed and built entirely by the local community, the Centre is based in a building that once was the village filling-station. The Centre was founded by Jim and Margaret Taylor of High Laning Farm who spent years rescuing and refurbishing many of the traditional items on display.
The exhibits tell the story of Dent through the working lives and social customs of the Dalesfolk who inhabited this area in times past.
More information: Dent Village Heritage Centre website
Dent Railway Station
The station is actually 4 miles away at Dent Head near Cowgill rather than in Dent itself, and is the highest railway station in England at 1,150ft (350m) above sea level. It is on the famous Settle to Carlisle Railway line and was opened in 1877. It closed in May 1970 but was reopened in 1986. All the station buildings are privately owned but it has been lovingly restored and is well worth a visit.
The line between Dent and the Blea Moor Tunnel passes over 2 impressive viaducts – Dent Head and Arten Gill. Both are now classed as Ancient Monuments.
Dent Brewery is one of the most remote breweries in the country, located halfway up a hill side, a couple of miles from the village of Dent.
Started in 1990, the original intention was to sell beers at the Sun Inn in Dent; however, the products proved so popular that many other pubs in the Dales and Lakes were soon queuing up for supplies. In 2006, the Brewery bought the George and Dragon Inn in Dent village.
Dent Music and Beer Festival
The Dent Music and Beer Festival is held over 3 days in June each year, It’s current format has been running since 2009 but it has it’s origins in the early 2000s at the time of the foot-and-mouth outbreak at that time. After the outbreak, the local community decided to stage a music event to help regenerate the area and to raise funds for local projects. The first event was held in the village in 2002, growing year-on-year since then.
The Festival is held purely for the benefit of the local communities. Any profit from the event is either ploughed back directly into community projects, such as the primary school, church bells and cave rescue, or held in trust for future projects.
More information: Dent Music and Beer Festival website
The Dentdale show is a typical local dales agricultural show showcasing local farming, products and activities. It is held over the August bank holiday weekend each year and features, among other things, craft demonstrations, livestock shows, sheepdog trials, a fell race, real ale and home cooked food.
More information: Dentdale Show