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Yorkshire Dales

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Like much of the landscape in this region, the Yorkshire Dales' steep valleys were carved by the glaciers in the last Ice Age. Three main dales (and a number of smaller ones) make up the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The main dales (or valleys) are called Swaledale, Wharfedale and Wensleydale, which is famous for its local cheese of the same name. The beautiful environs and welcoming feel of local villages make this area of northern England great for walking and exploring.    

Yorkshire Dales

Marked by heather moorland, green rolling land and grazing sheep, the Yorkshire Dales also contain remnants of a rich and varied history. Richmond Castle, built in 1071, is home to the largest cobbled marketplace in England. The village of Reeth hosts the Swaledale Folk Museum, which contains information about the region's industrial history and reliance on wool and mining. Bolton Priory and Skipton Castle in Skipton show off the history of this still-active auctioning and stockraising northern centres. Bolton and Middleham Castle should also not be missed by those who love old English fortresses. 

Lovely local villages in the region are great bases for starting a trek or just for window shopping and admiring the architecture. Highlights include Burnsall and Buckden in Wharfedale, Hawes and Masham in Wensleydale and Reeth and Richmond in Swaledale. Additionally, Grassington and Settle have good tourist information centres to use as resources for accommodation or planning what to see and do. The area was also made famous from the book All Creatures Great and Small, which was set in the region.

A walk in the Dales can be a short gentle stroll or a more challenging climb in the moorlands. Wensleydale is considered easier for walking, while the Three Peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent) in Wharfedale, are comprised of tougher terrain. Some people even attempt to walk the 20 miles of the Three Peaks all in one day, and those who do so can qualify for membership of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club (sign in at the Pen-y-Ghent cafe at Horton-in-Ribblesdale to do so).

Two major walking routes pass through the park as well – the Pennine Way crosses the western half and the Coast-to-Coast walk traverses Swaledale. Lovely waterfalls in Wensleydale (Hardraw Force, which has a 90-foot single drop, and Aysgarth Waterfalls) are certainly worth a day trip. Cycling is also a popular pasttime in the area, and the 130-mile Yorkshire Dales Cycle Way is not to be missed. The roads are generally quiet and off-road riding options are good as well. 

The area's healthy ecosystems provide habitats for a number of rare and unique species. Breeding waders like the black grouse, yellow wagtail and skylark can be found in the area, as can the northern brown argus butterfly and the Atlantic white-clawed crayfish. 

The Yorkshire Dales are near the major English city of Leeds (about ½ hour's drive) and public transport options both to and within the park are good and highly encouraged. In fact, public transports users can receive discounts at accommodation, attractions and restaurants in the area via the Dales Bus Scheme.


 

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