The Yorkshire Dales
Painting a beguiling scene of deep valleys and rolling, green hills, the Yorkshire Dales are renowned for their captivating scenery. Dissecting the dales at every turn are meandering country roads and traditional dry stone walls. This region of northern England is home to countless, traditional stone-built villages. Rural life quietly unfolds amongst this alluring farming landscape of field barns and flower-rich hay meadows.
The Yorkshire Dales is a land of peace and tranquillity but also a wild, windswept landscape. Each valley or 'dale' has an unmistakable character, set against extensive heather moorland tops. From crags and pavements to an underground labyrinth of cave networks, some of the finest limestone scenery in the United Kingdom can be found in the Dales.
Home to ancient broadleaved woodland and dramatic waterfalls, the region is scattered with the remains of former mine workings and other rural industries reminding us of its rich industrial heritage.
Cave Networks of the Yorkshire Dales
During the ice age, the area around Ribblehead and upper Ribblesdale was the underside of a huge glacier. Subsequently, as the ice receded, small rounded elongated egg-shaped hillocks called 'drumlins' remained. These drumlins are believed to have been formed by massive frictional forces dragging the ice sheets along the ground. The drumlin field at Ribblehead is considered to be one of the finest examples of this in the country.
Fringing each side of Ingleborough peak are impressive areas of limestone pavement. Extensive cave networks have developed below these pavements. The largest of which is White Scar Cave, the longest show cave in England. Attracting cavers from all over the country, it is also the home to England's highest waterfall at Gaping Gill. Here, the Fell Beck drops 110 metres (361 ft) vertically down a pothole, into Britain's second-largest cavern. The beck then re-emerges further down the mountain adjacent to Ingleborough Cave. It's here where visitors can take a guided tour of a floodlit part of the cave system.
Photographing the Yorkshire Dales
For the keen snappers and professionals alike, the Yorkshire Dales is at a firm number 10 on the Shutter-Richter scale. Popular spots include the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct nestling within the Three Peaks close to Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
Malham cove along with it's nearby Tarn are not to be missed. Additionally, the lesser-known gem of Goredale Ska is well worth a mooch around or up.
Upper Wharfedale is the classic Dales landscape. The upstream end of the River Wharfe is set in a V-shaped valley, home to picturesque villages and age-old stone barns scattered in the surrounding fields. The villages of Kettlewell, Buckden and Starbotton are certainly worth a nosey.
Furthermore, Wensleydale will be familiar to anyone partial to a bit of cheese. The world-famous favourite snack of Wallace and Gromit is made right here. However, cheese isn't the only offering from this charming Dale. Nestling in the valley, by the River Ure, are several quintessential Dales villages such as Askrigg and Hawes just waiting to be explored.
Hardraw Force is a lush garden of Eden. This waterfall is set in picture-perfect surrounds. To find it head to the Green Dragon pub just outside Hawes.
To conclude, one of the hundreds of monasteries dissolved during the reign of Henry VIII, Bolton Priory sits on the banks of the River Wharfe. This 12th century, Augustinian Abbey offers a grand view from a distance and unlike many of Britains ruined monasteries, this one is still a working church.
All in all, the Yorkshire Dales hold enough memory card fodder to keep you busier than a one-armed paper hanger with a serious case of the winnits.
Completely Useless Facts about the Yorkshire Dales
- The brown long-eared bat can be found in the Dales. This furry little critter has ears that are three quarters the length of its head and body
- Yorkshire feathermoss is the National Park’s only endemic species. It's found nowhere else in Great Britain
- At 345 metres, Dent railway station is the highest mainline station in England
- Charles Blondin once walked over Hardraw Force on a tightrope, stopping halfway to cook an omelette!
- Grassington Moor and the limestone pavements above Malham Cove were both locations on the film Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
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