The old 'uns had a vivid speech. Ella Pontefract, who in the 1930s chatted with dalesfolk whose lives had scarcely been affected by the outer world, was one of quoting a man from a farm perched on a hillside at the very head of a dale: "If there's another Noah's flood, there won't be manny folk left alive i' England when t'watter comes blashin' down oor chimney pots." In other words, if his farm was affected by a Second Flood, nearly everyone else would be submerged.

Dales life has changed dramatically over the past fifty years. The modern Dales farmer goes off to the hill on an all-terrain vehicle, with his sheepdog sitting on the pillion seat and a light alloy (rather than wooden) shepherd's crook beside him. The Dales have been opened up to visitors as never before.

Yet, chat to a member of one of the old families, and you would still detect the old characteristics. Conditions might change, but two aspects of Dales life - the lean landscape and the often harsh climate - remain to test the resolution of those who live in the rib-country of England.

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