The Yorkshire Dales
Renowned for their captivating scenery, the Yorkshire Dales paint a beguiling picture of deep valleys and rolling hills. Surrounding the dales at every turn are meandering roads and dry stone walls. Higher up, waiting to be discovered is heather moorland and characteristic hills, such as the much loved Three Peaks.
Stone-built villages rest amongst traditional farming landscapes of field barns and flower-rich hay meadows. The dales are home to ancient broadleaved woodland and dramatic waterfalls, contrasting with the scattered remains of former mine workings. The mines along with other rural industries, remind us of the regions rich industrial heritage.
The Yorkshire Dales can be both a picture of peace and tranquillity or a contrasting 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 Great Britain is to be found here.
Cave Networks in the Yorkshire Dales
In the ice age, the area around Ribblehead and upper Ribblesdale was the underside of a huge glacier. When the ice thawed, small rounded elongated egg-shaped hillocks called 'drumlins' remained. Believed to have been formed by massive frictional forces as the ice sheets were dragged along the ground. The drumlin field at Ribblehead is considered to be one of the finest examples of this in England.
Consequently, and fringing the peak of Ingleborough on each side, are impressive areas of limestone pavement. Extensive networks of caves have developed within the limestone strata and the longest show cave in Britain is to be found here. White Scar Cave attracts cavers from all over the country. This is home to England's highest waterfall at Gaping Gill. Here the Fell Beck drops 110 m (361 ft) vertically down a pothole, into Britain's second-largest cavern.
The beck re-emerges further down the mountain adjacent to Ingleborough Cave, where visitors can take a guided tour of a floodlit part of the cave system.
Photographing the Yorkshire Dales
For keen snappers and professionals alike, the Yorkshire Dales are a firm number 10 on the Shutter-Richter scale. Popular spots include the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct nestling amongst the Three Peaks. Malham Tarn and the cove at Malhamdale along with the nearby, lesser-known Goredale Ska are well worth checking out.
Upper Wharfedale is the classic Dales landscape. The upstream end of the River Wharfe is set in a V-shaped valley hosting photogenic villages and age-old stone barns dotted around the surrounding fields. The villages of Kettlewell, Buckden and Starbotton are well worth a mosey around.
Furthermore, Wensleydale will be familiar to anyone who likes their cheese or Wallace and Gromit: the eponymous cheese made here is famous the world over. However, cheese isn't the only thing this charming Dale has to offer. Nestling in the valley, by the River Ure, are several quintessential Dales villages such as Askrigg and Hawes to explore.
Hardraw Force is an idyllic garden of Eden. The waterfall is set in picture-perfect surrounds and can be found at the rear of 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 and provides a grand view from a distance. Unlike many of the ruined monasteries, this 12th century, Augustinian Abbey 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 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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