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River Wharfe Credit: Robyn Guppy

Rivers and streams

There are six main river catchments which rise in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – the Swale, the Ure, the Wharfe, the Aire, the Ribble and the Lune. All of these rivers are upland in character where they flow through the National Park and are generally of high water quality with good populations of brown trout and other fish such as bullhead and stoneloach.

In their natural state Dales rivers are dynamic systems, continually modifying their form. However, virtually all of the Dales rivers have a limited ability to rejuvenate or create new habitats due to the impact of flood defence structures and management. Many of the Dales riverbanks have become eroded due to inappropriate engineering works, moorland drainage and lack of vegetation due to tree removal and grazing pressure. These activities have lead to changes in the frequency and magnitude of flooding, changes to the physical shape of river catchments and altered patterns of sediment transport leading to losses of pools and riffles.

However, organisations such as the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, the Lune Rivers Trust, the Ribble Rivers Trust, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Environment Agency are actively doing work to improve the condition of rivers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Projects include the Upper Wharfe Restoration project and Catchment Sensitive Farming to improve water quality by reducing diffuse pollution.



Lutra lutra


Northern Bear Spider

Arctosa cinerea

Water Crowfoot


Marsh Marigold

Caltha palustris


Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Cordulegaster boltonii

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