The limestone landscape that predominates over much of the Yorkshire Dales is very ‘leaky’, so far as water is concerned and the land drains relatively easily. Hence many of our rivers and streams rise and fall quickly and much of the water that flows does so underground.
Within the National Park there are three large natural water bodies where local conditions have created impermeable material that impedes drainage (Malham Tarn, Semer Water and Sunbiggin Tarn) and there is one large artificial lake (Grimwith Reservoir) built to supply Bradford with water. Dotted amidst the hills where there is underlying millstone grit there are many smaller tarns and, in places, artificially dammed waterbodies, often created for industrial or mining purposes.
Ponds for livestock were probably much more frequent in the past and there are still many in the landscape. Ponds may form naturally in wet hollows or in areas with active river systems. In Wensleydale, in particular, there are good examples of ox-bow ponds formed when a river takes a new course and a meander or back water becomes cut-off from the main channel.
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