BILL Mitchell was a lovely man – and his death will be keenly felt across the district.

He was a journalist for 60 years, the author of more than 200 books and an keen local historian.

His knowledge of Dales life was second to none and his death leaves a void that will be hard to fill.

There was no doubting his passion for Craven and its people.

Even though he was 87, he was still a regular contributor to the Craven Herald, where he started his journalism career in 1943, and to the Dalesman magazine, where he worked for 40 years, many of them as editor.

And he was still writing books – his last, Lake District Folk, had just been sent to the printers.

It was no wonder that, in 2009, he topped a poll to find the Yorkshire Dales' greatest living cultural icon.

Over the years, Bill amassed more than 600 audio interviews, 50 videos and 15,000 photographs, and it is heartening to know they will live on, in a digital archive created by Settle Stories.

Bill learnt a vital lesson early in his career – that people took priority over things. It was something that stayed with him for the rest of his life.

So while he celebrated being awarded an MBE and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Bradford University, he didn't crave the limelight and got as much pleasure from seeing one of his articles in print or hearing about the success of a family member.

His interests were many and varied – from the Settle-Carlisle Railway to Sika deer.

He had friends everywhere. You only have to look at the tributes to see the esteem in which he was held. They describe him as "truly irreplaceable", a "consummate craftsman", "gifted raconteur" and "one of the greats".

He was a genuinely nice man and we will miss him.