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Gordale Scar, Malham

Special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park


10 reasons why the Yorkshire Dales is a special place…

Ancient dry-stone walls and field barns are defining features of the Dales landscape – shaped over thousands of years by people and nature. The iconic pattern of barns and walls in Upper Swaledale is recognised as being one of the most distinctive agricultural landscapes in Western Europe.


There are dozens of spectacular waterfalls such as Hardraw Force – the longest unbroken drop in England – Ingleton Falls, Janet’s Foss and the world-famous Aysgarth Falls which featured alongside Hardraw Force in the hit movie ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’.


The Yorkshire Dales has some of the most spectacular peaks in England, and the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent are amongst the highest in the county, providing an inspiring challenge to walkers from around the world.


Yorkshire is the home of cycling thanks to the 2014 Tour de France ‘Grand Depart’ and Le Tour de Yorkshire. The Dales offers some of the best cycling the country – from gentle routes in the valleys to challenging climbs over the moorland that separates them; including the iconic Buttertubs pass. Check our cycling website – cyclethedales.


Over a quarter of England’s flower-rich upland hay meadows and pastures are here – outstanding examples can be found in Swaledale and Langstrothdale – and keep an eye out for nationally important populations of birds like curlew, lapwing, and black grouse.


Some of the best examples of classic limestone scenery can be found the Yorkshire Dales – With its scars such as those at Gordale and Attermire and limestone pavements such as those at Great Asby Scar and Malham Cove, which featured in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two’.


The most extensive caving area in the UK is here, including the longest cave system – the Three Counties System – and one of the largest caverns and the highest unbroken underground waterfall at Gaping Gill.


The stunning dark sky of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of its very special qualities, and each year we support a special festival to celebrate it. The Dark Sky Festival is all about discovering, learning and enjoying the galaxies and stars you don’t normally get to see.


Around 42% of the area of the National Park is moorland, which is internationally important for wildlife, plant species and the carbon they store as peat.


Livestock farming – with distinct sheep breeds like Wensleydale and Swaledale and a strong tradition of upland cattle rearing, that is still deeply interwoven into local life and made famous through local cheese making. Livestock sales and agricultural shows play an important part in the lives of local people.