he River Swale runs close to Caterick Camp in Yorkshire, which is where I completed my basic training when I joined the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment. The river got its name from the Anglo Saxon word Sualae which means rapid and liable to deluge. The river is about 75 miles long and is said to be the swiftest river in England. The river rises where Birkdale Beck and Sleddale Beck come together and eventually joins the river Ouse and flows into the North Sea at the mouth of the river Humber. Beck by the way is a Middle English word for a small stream or a brook.
The river was never used for army training purposes but I enjoyed exploring along its banks. Many settlements were established over the years, firstly by the Romans and later the Saxons. If you are lucky it is possible to find arrowheads and small pieces of domestic pottery left by former inhabitants. There were lead mines close by. Lead became a valuable commodity much later when cathedrals and smaller churches were built in the area.