Special qualities in the Yorkshire Dales

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10 reasons why the Yorkshire Dales is a special place...

From the Pennine Way to caves and stunning moors to beautiful Dales villages, the Yorkshire Dales' special qualities include:

  • The landscape is famous for its man-made patchwork of dry stone walls, traditionally-built barns and hay meadows. It's also home to the dramatic Settle-Carlisle railway and unspoilt villages, most of which have existed for more than 1,000 years - and which still retain a distinct identity and culture today.
  • It is home to large nationally and internationally important habitats including wildflower-rich hay meadows, moorland fringe with its rush pastures, open heather moorland and blanket bog, as well as unique limestone pavements.
  • The Yorkshire Dales' flower-rich hay meadows and pastures are now very scarce nationally. These are the product of traditional, low-intensity grazing of the land over many decades and the Dales is one of the few areas of the UK where they survive in any number.
  • 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. It is also home to important rare limestone habitats and lime-loving plants such as bird’s eye primrose, rigid buckler fern and globeflower and baneberry.
  • The Dales is home to nationally important populations of breeding waders, black grouse, yellow wagtail and skylarks.You'll also find rare and scarce invertebrates such as the Northern Brown Argus butterfly and the Atlantic White-Clawed Crayfish.
  • It's waterfall country - with spectacular waterfalls such as Hardraw Force with its 90-foot (27-metre) single drop, the famous series of Aysgarth Falls, Cautley Spout with a broken drop of 600 feet (180 metres), Thornton Force with its geological unconformity, and numerous cascading streams.
  • The Yorkshire Dales has supported communities and industry over several millennia which have helped to shape the landscape - the evidence of this that can still be seen today provides an intriguing record of the area’s social and economic history.
  • The area’s long history of livestock farming has given rise to distinct sheep breeds and its tradition of cheese making. Sheep rearing, livestock sales and local agricultural shows still play an important part in the lives of local people.
  • With its open fells and numerous valleys, the Dales offers expansive views that show the area’s true beauty and variety. A true sense of tranquillity, remoteness and a sense of solitude can still be found here, which is rare in the UK today.
  • There are opportunities for outdoor recreation galore - the park has an extensive network of footpaths, bridleways and tracks, supplemented by extensive areas of public access land. It's one of the best places for caving and potholing in the UK thanks to its limestone geology.

Keeping it special - the role of the Authority