The dale stretches from the sourecs of the River Aire in Malham in the Dales, and runs down past Skipton and broadens as the Aire Valley. It runs down past Keighley and the fair village of Saltaire to Bingley. Below Bingley the river enters Leeds and Castleford, which lie at the end of the dale. The river's final reach is across the edge of the Vale of York to the River Ouse at Airmyn.
This valley is the major component of the Aire Gap, an east-west pass through the Pennines of great topographic significance as it provides a low-altitude pass through the Pennines between Lancashire and Yorkshire. In the Gap, a traveller need not climb above 558 feet following the Aire Gap through Craven from the River Ribble to the Vale of York.)
The Airedale's dramatic landscape is best enjoyed in the Pennines and the greener hills rolling down below them. It is fine country for vigorous walkers.
Amongst the hills are found dramatic limestone crags, and of these Malham Cove at the head of the dale is the most famous.
Further down the dale the landscape softens a little but it is a place yet of hardy moorlands, dramatic rock outcrops and, in contrast, rich green pastures.
Shaggy dog story
The Airedale Terrier is named after this dale. It is traditionally called the "King of Terriers" because it is the largest of the terrier breeds, or the Waterside Terrier. The Airedale was bred for otter hunting in Airedale, from a Black and Tan Terrier and an Otterhound. The farmers of the dale would use this large but nimble dog for hunting otters in and around the River Aire and its becks. It has also been used as a police dog.