Overview of the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales is located in the north of England with the majority of The Dales falling within the county boundaries of North Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Dales are a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB), and is also one of the United Kingdoms professionally managed National Parks. This ensures that the stunning beauty, wildlife, flora and fauna are fully protected and maintained, but at the same time access to the public for recreational purposes is encouraged. This fine balance also intertwines with the locals who live and work in the area in farming, light manufacturing and of course tourism. The park has over 20,000 inhabitants and visitor numbers per year are approximately nine million!
The Yorkshire Dales National Park extends to some 682 square miles and is one of the finest upland areas in the United Kingdom. It can be described as: expansive, tranquil, wild, picturesque, and beautiful. It is full of picture postcard towns and villages, stunning scenery, beautiful dales and a range of outdoor activities including: fishing, walking, cycling, hiking, potholing, caving and more. There is plenty for the family to see and do including: castles, museums, steam railways, art galleries – the list is endless. It makes an excellent location for a holiday or short break being ideal for outdoor recreation, touring or simply relaxing.
The countryside is made up of lush green valleys known as ‘dales’. The fields and pastures are bound by dry stone distinctive white limestone walls originally built by the sheep farmers, and which form a patchwork across the hillsides. Although the limestone walls are man made features, when set against natural limestone cliffs, rocky outcrops and the beauty of the dales, they appear almost natural themselves and add to the serenity of the dales.
Visitors are attracted to the region to marvel at the stunning rolling countryside, picturesque villages and cascading waterfalls, however beneath the surface of the Yorkshire Dales is a further hidden world. The limestone hillsides are honeycombed by numerous potholes, gorges and caves, which exist in a world of stalagmites, stalactites, underground rivers and waterfalls and vast cathedral sized chambers. If you have the inclination, equipment and training (or a guide!) this underground world is just waiting to be explored.
The Yorkshire Dales are bound on the south by the spa towns of Skipton, Settle, Ilkley and Harrogate and spread north up to Kirby Stephen, Barnard Castle and Richmond. To the east is the low lying land of the Vale of York including the towns of Thirsk, Ripon and the historic City of York. To the west is the Lake District National Park, itself a spectacular location and within easy driving distance.
The dales which are essentially deep valleys formed by millions of years of river flow include Malhamdale, Airedale, Ribblesdale, Wharfedale, and Nidderdale to the south, Teesdale, Swaledale and Wensleydale to the north. These are the more well known and documented dales and are usually on most visitors itineraries, however a whole range of smaller and lesser known dales are just waiting to be explored including: Arkengarthdale, Barbondale, Bishopdale, Clapdale, Coverdale, Dentdale and Deepdale, Garsdale, Kingsdale, Littondale, Langstrothdale, Raydale, Waldendale and the Washburn Valley.
The Yorkshire Dales is a very popular place with many well known attractions such as Aysgarth Falls and Bolton Abbey, however there are hundreds of square miles to explore and hence it is always possible to get away from the main tourist area and find some solitude and tranquillity.
There are numerous opportunities for outdoor activities including cycle tracks, bridleways and designated footpaths. Some of the UK’s most famous footpaths cut through the heart of the Dales including the Pennine Way and Wainright’s ‘Coast to Coast Walk’. In addition the world famous ‘Settle-Carlisle Railway’ also passes right through the dales.
The Yorkshire Dales is no stranger to the world of TV and film. ITV’s long running soap ‘Emmerdale’ is based in the region and the TV series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ based on the life of the dales vet James Herriot was also filmed on location in the dales. Feature films such as ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ and ‘Calendar Girls’ were also filmed in the dales. The result of this exposure is that tourism now plays an increasing role in the well-being of the Yorkshire Dales. However, thanks to first class management, the Yorkshire Dales remains one of the UK’s crown jewels of unspoilt natural beauty and spectacular rugged scenery, a must for any visit to the UK.
Thanks to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, vast areas of the Yorkshire Dales are now fully accessible to the public to walk unhindered without having to stick to designated footpaths, this is know as the ‘right to Roam’.
Towns & Villages
The Yorkshire Dales features a superb selection of towns and villages for the visitor to explore. To find out more click the following links:
Yorkshire-Visitors-Guide.com has lots of detailed information about visiting Yorkshire. The site includes local information, history, walks, tours and places to stay. A plethora of excellent information, written by a local Yorkshireman, which everyone will find interesting. Please have a look at this site by clicking here.