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Ribblehead Viaduct A stunning piece of Victorian engineering in an iconic location in the middle of the Three Peaks.

Cultural heritage

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has been home to communities and industry for several millennia, helping to shape much of what we now think is special. There is an exceptional amount of evidence of these previous generations of occupation, connecting past communities to the present and providing a highly visible record of the area’s social and economic history, including:

A culture of community spirit, self-sufficiency, determination and self-belief, which has been shaped by the area’s physical environment and remoteness, nurturing self-dependency and close-knit communities. 

Livestock farming, with distinct sheep breeds and a strong tradition of upland cattle rearing, still deeply interwoven into local life and culture. Livestock sales and agricultural shows play an important part in the lives of local people.

An exceptional range of archaeology, which provides the evidence of human activity from the earliest hunters of the Palaeolithic through to twentieth century industrial remains.

The remains of former rural industries, the influences of which on the area’s culture and social fabric are still evident today. They include lead and lime extraction and processing sites, as well as water mills. 

Powerful reminders of periods of dominance by large estates and religious houses, through place names and some surviving structures, such as Bolton Castle, Bolton Abbey, Barden Tower and Marrick Priory.

Distinctive, traditional architecture, where the local building materials used link directly to the area’s geology.

Numerous small, attractive villages and hamlets most of which have been there for over a thousand years, as well as scattered farmsteads.

Minor roads along the dales, bordered by drystone walls or hedgerows and flower-rich verges. Higher up, unfenced roads cross open moorland and offer dramatic views.

The Settle-Carlisle Railway Line, opened in 1876, is unique and displays impressive engineering and conserved Midland Railway architecture and offers a very special way of enjoying the dramatic landscape along its route.

A distinctive linguistic, literary and artistic heritage, inspired by the landscape and by the history of the communities – past and present – who have lived and worked here.