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What makes the Yorkshire Dales so distinctive?


The Yorkshire Dales ... when are you coming? 


Take a cup of tea (Yorkshire Tea of course!), make yourself comfortable and watch this 3 minute video to whet your appetite about the Yorkshire Dales, courtesy of Welcome to Yorkshire... aptly entitled 'The Yorkshire Dales ... when are you coming?'. This will give you a flavour of why the Yorkshire Dales are so distinctive. 



How many dales in the Yorkshire Dales?


There are over 50 dales, or valleys, all with their own rivers, and each with their own distinctive character, beauty and appeal. How many Yorkshire Dales can you name ... without cheating and looking it up here courtesy of our friends at Yorkshire Trike Tours. As a hint there are 25 major dales & 34 lesser known dales. Most are named after the rivers flowing through them, but not all - can you name one of these exceptions? All the rivers that start in the dales either flow to the east or west coasts.


Characteristics of the Yorkshire Dales


There are some common characteristics which conjure the imagery we all have come to know and love as being the distinctive Yorkshire Dales …


  • Dry-stone walls are everywhere, some new built very recently but many are hundreds of years old, dating back to medieval times. Even the walls themselves have some distinctive features - cripple holes, sheep creeps, sand ‘through’ stones, often arranged as steps.
  • Sheep are everywhere - many times more than there are people! Swaledale sheep with the characteristic black face is the symbol of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
  • Spectacular waterfalls - from Hardraw Force, the largest single-drop waterfall in England to the three waterfalls that are Aysgarth Falls. Both Hardraw & Aysgarth featured in the Kevin Costner film, ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’. West Burton Cauldron, Cautley Spout and many others.
  • Stone-built barns in most fields, many of which are now derelict, used to house animals and feed.
  • Open moorlands across the top of the Dales with a panorama views into the valleys. See the heather change colour through the seasons, especially when purple in August/September.
  • Some of the best caving and potholing in the country, eg Gaping Gill System and show caves such as Stump Cross Cavern and White Scar Caves, which has the larges cave in Europe.
  • The most beautiful hay / wildflower meadows, not to be missed in June.
  • Limestone and millstone grit features such as Malham Cove, the Three Yorkshire Peaks (Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside) and the sandstone Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate.
  • The historic lead mining ruins featured along the high levels of Swaledale whilst doing the Coast to Coast Walk or Coldstores Cut in Nidderdale.
  • Dark skies - one of the darkest areas in the country ideal for viewing the night sky and sometimes the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) at high levels such as Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in England.
  • The beauty of the countryside and the tranquility only interrupted by the birdsong and the weather.
  • The people - so friendly, open and welcoming.


Find out more about the various dales


Find out more about some of the main Dales such as Wensleydale, Swaledale, Nidderdale, Wharfedale, Ribblesdale, Dentdale and many others, with a little help from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority :