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What's special - natural beauty

The interaction of people with nature through history has produced a landscape of remarkable beauty, distinctive character and immense interest in the Yorkshire Dales that is cherished and enjoyed by the nation.

These special qualities have been recognised as worth conserving for the enrichment of us all, and are valued by millions of people in this country and world wide.

The area straddles the Pennines, the backbone of England. Geology and natural processes have been the fundamental force behind the creation of this familiar landscape and of the variety found within it. They are quite literally the bedrock of the Yorkshire Dales and have expression in numerous dramatic and impressive features.

Yorkshire Dales National Park is an expansive area of hill country that rises in the Millstone Grit-capped Three Peaks to over 2,300ft (700 metres). Rivers have cut deep valleys (dales) of which there are over 20 named examples, each distinctive in character and atmosphere.

The south of the National Park displays one of the best examples in Britain of classic limestone (Karst) scenery, with its crags, pavements and extensive cave systems.

The area's northern landscape is equally striking. Its valleys with distinctive stepped profiles, the product of differential weathering of the Yoredale Series, are separated by extensive moorland plateaux.

To the west are The Howgills, a series of grassy rounded hills with deep ravines that result from different geology and contrast markedly in appearance from the rest of the National Park.

This is a landscape shaped by ice, with significant glacial and post-glacial landforms and features, notably drumlin fields such as that at Ribblehead, erratics including those at Norber, moraines and post-glacial lakes of Semerwater and Malham Tarn.

Spectacular waterfalls - such as Hardraw Force with its 90ft (27 metre) single drop, the famous series of Aysgarth Falls, Cautley Spout with a broken drop of 600ft (180 metres), Thornton Force with its geological uncomformity, and numerous cascading streams - bring movement and sound.

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