I will sing of a place that is dear to my heart,
A place where I always would dwell,
And if you will kindly lend me an ear
A few of its beauties I’ll tell
Chorus:- In that beautiful dale, home of the Swale,
How well do I love thee, how well do I love thee?
Beautiful dale, home of the Swale,
Beautiful, beautiful dale.
Oh, it’s far far away from the noise and the din
Of colliery an’ factory an’ mill,
From the bustle and stir of town life, shut in
By verdant and radiant hills.
And how often as boys have we wandered along
Beside of the river so clear;
The birds never failing to sing their sweet song
And lend a charm to your ear.
And if fate ee’er compels me to leave this dear spot
In other lands far away roam,
My earnest wish whatee’er be my lot
Is to end my days here at home.
This is a traditional song
Another version is given in Songs of the Ridings by Nigel Hudleston, Pindar, 2001, p90, without tune, sent in anonymously. The words are pretty much as in Will’s version but there is an extra stanza after Will’s stanza 3:
Oh, Swaledale, sweet dale, thou closely art bound
To our hearts by the strongest of ties,
That ever in human heart can be found,
The sources of our greatest joys.
Will tells us how he came to sing the song:
‘Albert Broadhead sang it at the Royal at Dungworth an’ ’e picked it up when ’e was part o’ the Sheffield Ramblers. ’E’d gone up North Yorkshire on a walking weekend. ’E must ’ave ’eard it in the pubs there an’ Ah think that’s ’ow it came down ’ere. But funnily enough Ah first ’eard it when Ah was a real kid, on one o’ them ‘Down Your Way’ programmes. The’d gone up Swaledale an’ somebody sang it, an’ Ah thowt ‘By that’s a lovely song!’ just from bein’ a kid. Ah never ’eard it again until I ’eard Albert singin’ it an’ it just came back to me. It were a favourite at Dungworth; Billy Mills sang it, well, Ah mean, everybody did, it’s got so popular everybody’s sung it now, John Cocking, Andrew Rogers, Brian Thorp, because it’s such a nice song and well, the’ like it!
On page 89 of Songs of the Ridings is given another ‘Beautiful Swaledale’ song as sung by Nigel Hudleston, which he got from The Dalesman, March 1954. It starts off in much the same vein as Will’s song but after the first stanza changes tone completely and goes on to catalogue in very insulting language the failings of individual inhabitants of the dale.