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Record Breakers

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has some of the best places to go and things to do in the country, and these record breaking facts prove it.

Highest pub in Britain

Tan Hill Inn, Swaledale, is perched at 1,732 feet above sea level. The Inn dates back to the seventeenth century.

Fastest river in England

The River Swale is England's fastest flowing river. The name Swale is from the Anglo-Saxon word Sualuae meaning rapid and liable to deluge. Annual rainfall figures of 1,800 millimeters per annum  in the headwaters and 1,300 millimeters per annum in the lower waters over a drop of 148 metres in 32 kilometers, gives proof to its name. It threads its way through a maze of fields dotted with stone barns before joining the River Ure, then the River Ouse, before reaching the North Sea via the Humber Estuary.

Highest lake in England

Malham Tarn, a glacial freshwater lake near the village of Malham, is 377 metres (1,237 feet) above sea level, making it the highest lake in England, and one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe (it has a pH between 8.0 and 8.6). It is also the highest marl lake in Great Britain, meaning that the limestone it sits on is covered in a lime-rich mud (marl), as well as being partly floored by Silurian slate, that helps prevent the water from seeping through the porous rock beneath. It is a natural lake, but it was artificially enlarged in 1791.

Largest lake, smallest river

Semerwater, in Raydale, is Yorkshire's largest natural lake. From here the River Bain, reputedly England's shortest river at two point five miles, flows on to Bainbridge to meet the River Ure at the end of the valley in Wensleydale. In the south of the National Park in Dibblesdale, the River Dibb, which flows out from Grimwith Reservoir, is reportedly also one of England's shortest rivers at three point two miles.

The tallest single drop waterfall in England

Hardraw Force is England`s largest single drop waterfall, a reputed hundred-foot drop which has inspired Turner and Wordsworth.

Britain's first National Trail

Pennine Way was designated by the Countryside Agency in 1965 as Britain's first National Trail. This is a 270-mile walk that will take you from the Peak District along the Pennine ridge through the Yorkshire Dales, up into Northumberland, across the Cheviots, and into the Scottish Borders. Around twenty percent of the trail, totaling 52 miles, can be found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Malham section in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the busiest (according to 2008 and 2009 figures).

Britain's newest National Trail

Pennine Bridleway is the UK’s newest National Trail and first purpose-built route designed specifically for horseriders, mountain bikers and walkers. Of the 350 mile route, 52 miles (84km) weaves through the Yorkshire Dales National Park from Long Preston to Garsdale.

Last ‘navvy built’ railway

Ribblehead Viaduct is an iconic, 24-arched viaduct and a Grade II-listed building and Scheduled Monument on the Settle and Carlisle Railway. It opened in 1876 and was the last ‘navvy built’ railway in the country - but machine power probably played a fairly big part. It took thousands of men seven years to build and many died during its construction, either from industrial injuries or small pox. [Navvy: an unskilled manual labourer]

Best example of a Hoffman kiln

In 1985, English Heritage identified the Hoffman kiln at Craven Lime Works, Ribblesdale, as the best example still standing in the country (there are a few others neither as big nor as well-preserved) and scheduled it as an Ancient Monument. This industrial scale lime kiln was built in 1873 and in 1939 it was closed down permanently.

The longest show cave in Britain

White Scar Caves, found under Ingleborough hill, are the longest show caves in Britain. They contain the Battlefield, one of the largest known cave chambers in Great Britain, at 90 metres (300 feet) long.

Largest underground cavern and waterfall

Situated on the south west slopes of Ingleborough hill at an altitude of 1,300 feet (400 metres) above sea level, Fell Beck ends its meandering course abruptly, and plunges 330 feet (100 metres) into a black chasm 50 feet across. In it’s journey to the floor of the largest cavern in Britain, known as the Main Chamber or Gaping Gill, Fell Beck creates Britain’s highest unbroken underground waterfall; a distance that challenges the nearby Hardraw Force as England`s largest single drop waterfall. Gaping Gill was first descended by Edward Martel in 1895 which is quite an achievement.

Longest and most complex cave systems

The Ease Gill system is one of Britain’s longest (second at the moment, but may regain first place) and most complex cave systems. Currently the system is 60 kilometers long, but a connection is close to being made to another system which would make the combined length 83 kilometers, with passages spread underneath three counties (and the Yorkshire Dales National Park). Ease Gill also has the dubious honour of being the cave system with most recorded deaths in modern caving (12) although this pales into insignificance compared to a cave in Ireland with at least 44 – although this was in a Viking massacre in AD928.

First caving club in the UK

Caving as a sport started in the British Isles during the latter part of the nineteenth century, but until the period between the World Wars it remained largely the preserve of a very few adventurers and scientists. During the 1920s and 1930s interest in caving grew, leading to the formation of the first caving clubs, initially in the Yorkshire Dales and later in Somerset. Craven Pothole Club held its first meet at Gaping Gill in 1931.

First cave rescue organisation in the world

The Cave Rescue Organisation was formed in Yorkshire in 1935, and is reputably the first in the world. The Mendip Rescue Organisation in Somerset was second in 1936 followed by other areas as the British love for caving grew, for example in Derbyshire in 1952.

Second oldest outdoor brass band contest

Established in 1884, the world famous Hardraw Scaur Brass Band Festival is Britain's second oldest outdoor contest and takes place annually on the second Sunday of September.

Highest point in Yorkshire

Whernside, one the Yorkshire Dales’ famous Three Peaks, is the highest point in Yorkshire, although the trig point for the summit is actually in Cumbria sitting at 736 metres above sea level (2,415 feet).

Largest churchyard

St Andrew's church in Aysgarth has supposedly one of the largest churchyards in England. The church has a medieval painted wooden screen rescued from the destroyed Jervaulx Abbey, and the church itself may date back to the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47). There are two public footpaths through the churchyard.

Hardest rock climbs in the UK

The limestone cliffs of the Yorkshire Dales have both traditional and modern sport climbing on crags and include some of the hardest climbs in the country. Attermire Scar near Settle is mentioned in the book ‘Where to rock climb in the British Isles’ written by W.P. Haskett-Smith (known as the father of rock climbing) after his visit there around 1894.

Toughest and biggest cyclocross

The Three Peaks Cyclocross bills itself as the toughest and biggest cyclocross event in the UK, which no one seems to dispute. You ride, push or carry your bicycle over a 25 mile course that includes reaching the summits of each of the Yorkshire Dales’ Three Peaks. The competition started in 1961, two years after a local 14 year old school boy first tried it.

Longest canal in northern England

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Northern England at 127 miles long. Although just to the south of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it is water from Winterburn Reservoir which keeps the boats afloat.

Highest road in Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has the highest road in Yorkshire, and it is amongst the top 25 highest public roads in the UK. Beggarmans Road - also known as Fleet Moss and Howgate - rises to 1,934 feet above sea level and links Wensleydale to Langstrothdale.

Biggest concentration of limestone pavement in the UK

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has thirty-six percent of Britain’s limestone pavement. The most famous stretch is on the top of Malham Cove.

A peregrine falcon perching on Malham Cove Peregrines are the fastest animals in the world

Fastest animal

Peregrine falcons have nested at Malham Cove since 1993. In 1994, only their second year at the site, the pair managed to fledge five young. This was the first time that this had been documented in Yorkshire and only the third time on record in the UK since 1896. Peregrine’s are the fastest animals in the world and the RSPB, in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, set up a viewing point between April and July each year for the public to witness their speed and grace for themselves.

We have tried our best to ensure the accuracy of the content of this page but can not guarantee all details are correct, nor that we have published a comprehensive list. If you would like to query or add to our ‘record breaking’ list, please contact the Web Officer by emailing

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