It’s a Dales life

North Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales — Three Peaks country of Penyghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough — where the River Ribble rushes by limestone scars and over thrilling waterfalls. That’s my homeland and the main source of my regular blog posts. Thanks for dropping by. I’m Paul Jackson. I spent almost twenty years in local newspapers before joining Country Publications where I stayed for another 19+ years up to retiring in 2012. During my time with the company, I was production editor and later editorial director, editing the famous Yorkshire Dalesman magazine as well as the celebrated national magazine The Countryman. Nowadays I spend my time doing a little freelance work, strolling around the dales, or watching Huddersfield Town FC. My main hobby is photography — but I’m very much an enthusiastic amateur. You can view some of my photos by browsing through the galleries (menu above) or in my post archive. I have been adding a fresh blog about the Yorkshire Dales for several years now – have a browse through the archive.

Here’s a slideshow showing where I live – it’s nine minutes long so get a cup of tea first …

To those people who think it is fine and dandy to nick my photos from the site and use them for their own benefit please at least have the decency to credit me. Asking permission would be nice, too – pay me and I’ll befriend you for ever.

Family history

This page contains a list of surnames included in my own family tree which may be of interest to other genealogists. I’ve also uploaded an article I wrote for Dalesman called Me and Alfred the Great – an exploration of one branch of my own family tree.

Yorkshire surnames

Other hobbies include tracing my family history; an off-shoot of this is writing a column for Down Your Way magazine about Yorkshire Surnames. The magazine has recently been incorporated with Dalesman where my column continues. See if your name has been included here (or click on the Surnames link at the top of the page). I add a new name every month.

Yorkshire Dales Twitter

To follow my Twitter feed visit 

My books

I’ve also written a few mini-books – click here or on the link at the top of the page.

If you enjoy my posts let me know by using the reply section below. If you don’t like them, then keep it to yourself as I’m a very sensitive chap.

dales scenic

16 thoughts on “It’s a Dales life”

  1. I love your blogs & photos & look forward to them every month in the Vibrant Settle newsletter. Thank you.

  2. Hi – I was in Settle this past weekend and very much enjoyed the service at Ye Old Naked Man Cafe. Are you able to tell me where the name came from please?


    1. Hi Barbara – There are few stories about the name – which probably started out as a nickname given by locals for the building. A chap called John Cookson had a hostelry here in the 1600s. He decorated the house with a date stone showing a man holding a scroll across his nether regions. At first glance from a distance it looks like the man is naked, but a closer inspection shows that he’s actually dressed. Another story has it that there a man was buried naked under the building, and that the place was once an undertaker’s.

  3. Hi Paul I have just added a link to here at the bottom of the hotel home page website. I think our guests would enjoy reading this and should have done it a while ago! hope you are well xxx

  4. Hi Paul ~ Have enjoyed seeing your photos on Twitter for sometime, however only today did I click on your Website link and discover “Scribble by the Ribble” what a pleasure – John

    1. Many thanks John – enjoyed your artwork for years. Let me know dates of your next exhibition and website details so I can publicise on here.

  5. I lived in Settle for about 18 months working in Bentham and sadly had to leave to find a job. Always wanted to move back. Curious about the Huddersfield Town connection? My home town club and where I live. I used to play cricket for Settle and one fellow there was a Town and Glazzrd fan….that reflected that they were the major club in Yorkshire and are for now at least.

    1. I was born in Heckmondwike (Dale Lane actually, like Sir Dean Hoyle) and lived in Batley up to being 18. Dad and Granddad both followed Town – as does my son. Always Yorkshire’s No 1.

  6. I’m looking for information on my surname Stephenson. Supposed to be from Yorkshire, but not in your list.

    1. Stephenson is generally thought of as a Northern name but it is so common, being one of the many ‘son of’ surnames (like mine) that it is impossible to give a more precise location for its origin. The Durham and Hull areas seem to hold the greatest concentration of those having the surname. Those who spell the name with a ‘v’ are linked more with western Scotland. Stephen was a popular first name everywhere when surnames began to be needed in the Middle Ages. Sorry I can’t help you further.

  7. Took my very first quick look, ( I am always late to the gate )
    while considering W .R. Mitchell and North Ribblesdale. Just wanted to say the photographs were/are a balm to the soul.
    Even the soul of a Lancastrian.

  8. Hi Paul,

    I saw on the family names page that you’re happy to share information… do you have any further information not on the Yorkshire surnames page you can share about the Liley family? I’m struggling to find much information about us Lileys at the moment.

    Many thanks,


    1. Hi Jessica, one of my great grans was a Liley (Edna W) born in Liversedge in 1859. I managed to follow her tree back just 3 generations before the trail went cold. They were all from the same area: Heckmondwike/Dewsbury/Batley. In one census the name was recorded as Lylah – just as you would expect a working-class West Riding miner to pronounce it! If you think this might also be your line then let me know and I’ll send you what information I have. Cheers

  9. Hi Paul,

    I wonder if you could advise whether it would be better for me to try and research the ‘root’ of my surname. I am a Sollitt but I see evidence of Pollitt, Gollitt etc around Yorkshire; are they essentially the same surname? Is ‘..ollitt’ known anywhere as part of a surname or am I barking up the wrong tree? Regards Andy

    1. Hi Andy – Sollitt is a solid Yorkshire name – found in our county more than anywhere else, especially towards the east. It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin, and a lot of experts have suggested different theories. Quite often, names ending with -ett or -itt etc mean ’child of’, so in this case it could be child of Saul, or Sol (short for Soloman). But there could be many other meanings, especially with several surnames from the North East of England stemming from Scandinavian or north-west European given names. I can chuck in a theory of my own by saying that the place-name Sleights is derived from the old Norse word sletta, which means ‘flat lands’… good luck in your research.

  10. Dear Paul
    I hope this mail finds you alive and hopefully well.? I
    Missed my visit to my old friend and artist Frank Gordon because I was still recovering from a knee replacement. I’d been off the hills for quite a while – my walking days seemed to be over. Then i remembered my dear old mother saying “get it spent – there’s no pockets in shrouds!” So I did a deal with a private surgeon – now I can’t wait for the right knee.
    I haven’t seen a “ Scribble on the Ribble” since Sep 21st have I missed something
    Best Regards
    Dr Trevor Colluney (ret)
    Dwile Flonker

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