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Upper Wharfedale between Kettlewell and Starbotton.
The broad sunlit uplands of Lower Wharfedale above Otley

Wharfedale is one of the Yorkshire Dales. It is situated within the boroughs of Craven, and Harrogate in North Yorkshire, and the cities of Leeds, and Bradford in West Yorkshire, it is the upper valley of the River Wharfe. Towns and villages in Wharfedale (downstream, from west to east) include Buckden,[1] Kettlewell, Conistone, Grassington, Hebden, Bolton Abbey, Addingham, Ilkley, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Otley, Pool-in-Wharfedale, Arthington, Collingham and Wetherby.[2] Beyond Wetherby, the valley opens out and becomes part of the Vale of York.

The section from the river's source to around Addingham is known as Upper Wharfedale and lies in North Yorkshire and in the Yorkshire Dales National Park; the first 15 miles (24 km) or so is known as Langstrothdale, including the settlements of Beckermonds, Yockenthwaite and Hubberholme, famous for its church, the resting place of the writer J. B. Priestley. As it turns southwards, the Wharfe then runs through a green and lush valley, characterised by limestone outcrops, such as Kilnsey Crag, and woodland, generally quite unusual in the dales.

Below Addingham, the dale broadens and turns to the east; this section is shared between North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire and includes the towns of Ilkley, Otley and Wetherby. The northern side of Lower Wharfedale, opposite Ilkley, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Otley, is in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust has a remit to conserve the ecological condition of Wharfedale, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Nidderdale catchments from their headwaters to the Humber Estuary.

Wharfedale Ward[edit]

As an electoral subdivision Wharfedale is a ward in the north east of the City of Bradford metropolitan borough, it consists of the settlements of Burley-in-Wharfedale, Burley Woodhead and Menston along with surrounding moorland. The population of the ward taken at the 2011 Census was 11,836.[3]

Deanery of South Craven and Wharfedale[edit]

In 2017, by considering regional geography, The Church of England changed its subdivisions[4] and re-grouped the Deanery of Wharfedale with that of South Craven, in order that the similar regions can work together more effectively.[5]

Wharfedale in Culture[edit]

One of the most renowned painters of the Victorian era, John Atkinson Grimshaw portrayed the area in his piece, "Moonlight, Wharfedale" (1871 - oil on card 17½" x 13½"), he is known as one of the best and most accomplished nightscape and townscape artists of all time, and this painting is prime example of his mastery.[6][7]


  1. ^ 54°11′28″N 2°05′28″W / 54.191°N 2.091°W / 54.191; -2.091
  2. ^ 53°55′41″N 1°23′10″W / 53.928°N 1.386°W / 53.928; -1.386
  3. ^ "City of Bradford Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  4. ^ Maps of Anglican deaneries and parishes. Retrieved 6 May 2017
  5. ^ West Yorkshire Dales Anglican News. Retrieved 6 May 2017
  6. ^ "John Atkinson Grimshaw Moonlight Wharfedale 1871 by MotionAge Designs". Fine Art America. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Moonlight Wharfedale by John AtkinsonGrimshaw". www.artnet.com. Retrieved 19 December 2018.

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