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Whisper Dales

Although only a few miles from Scarborough, Whisper Dales has an air of isolation.

The potholed forest car park at Reasty Hill Top will rarely be more than 30-40 minutes' walk away, but few dog walkers take the track down into the valley.

Behind sheltering trees is Whisperdales Farm, offered for sale for £550,000 in 2015, which although splendidly appointed, depends for  power on a generator and a bank of batteries, and for water on a spring.

Few people who have visited the area can have failed to wonder about the origin of the name "Whisper Dales", which conjures up an air of romance and even mysticism.

Alfred "AJ" Brown, the Yorkshire walking writer who did much to entice people to explore the county in the 1930s, called on the occupant of the farm and asked him for his explanation.

The farmer told Brown that he had two ideas.

At times of stillness, he said, he could hear only the susurration of the trees - almost as if they were, indeed, whispering to each other.

Alternatively, if he stood on the ridge above the farm, he could hear every word spoken by his daughter in the farmyard.

Alas, the true explanation is far more prosaic.

As I mentioned, the water supply for the farm gushes from a spring.

The area once belonged to Whitby Abbey, and in the monks' estate book, it was listed as "White Spout Dale", which over the centuries has been corrupted to the present name.

*I have adopted the Ordnance Survey convention of using two words for the name of a dale, but one word when it contributes to another name.