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Historic Towns & Picturesque Villages

Pictures of Yorkshire Dales National Park

a National Park in the county of North Yorkshire

About Yorkshire Dales National Park

The unyielding screach of a curlew from the skies above, is often the only sound heard in the far upland reaches of the lonely moorland and limestone hills of the supremely beautiful Yorkshire Dales. It is thought that the Dales sprang into life 300 million years ago when the earth upended the vast limestone rocks of the Pennines. Ten thousand years ago, the Ice Age glaciers melted, leaving behind deep valleys and lakes. The fact that this is an ancient landscape is undisputed and many of the little hamlets and villages have a history, almost lost in the mists of time. Many settlements belonging to the Norsemen who invaded these lands in the 9th and 10th-centuries remain scattered throughout the dales and it is they who formed and shaped the unique character of the landscape as we see it today. Dale is Norse for Valley and the strange sounding names such as beck instead of stream are a legacy of the invaders.

Ancient hamlets and pretty villages are strung throughout the dales, some such as REETH, once a centre for the lead industry, and like ASKRIGG, mentioned in the Domesday Book, grew up along the waters of the becks. In the far reaches of the dales, the beautiful ARKENGARTHDALE has several villages dotted along the banks of ARKLE BECK, a tributary of the RIVER SWALE which is edged with ancient stone farms. The lofty TAN HILL, crossed by Drovers' roads, is now the haunt of Grouse and Sheep, at a height of 1732ft The Tan Hill Inn is the highest inn in the dales and a haven for walkers. THE PENNINE WAY marches through the most spectacular areas of the dales as it crosses from TAN HILL to the RIVER AIRE at ESHTON. This magnificent route takes in HIGH FORCE and LOW FORCE, KISDON GORGE and the delightful village of THWAITE birthplace of naturalists, Richard and Cherry Kearton which shows a host of traditional moorland stone cottages. The journey continues through the BUTTER TUBS and on to HAWES, an interesting village with a fine visitors centre and the UPPER DALES FOLK MUSEUM, from here the way moves past GAYLE WATERFALL and towering WETHER FELL which rises majestically to a height of 2015ft, it skirts the beautiful RIVER RIBBLE` and passes the misty MALHAM TARN and the awe-inspiring MALHAM COVE to enter MALHAM village which stands amid some of the most rugged scenery in the Yorkshire Dales.

Romantic buildings are interspersed throughout the dales; CASTLE BOLTON was completed in 1399 following 18 years of building work. The castle was a prison home of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Queen was locked-up here for six months. Today, this fortress overshadows enchanting stone cottages and a 14th-century church, its rooms depict life in the 15th-century. The ruins of 12th-century JERVAULX ABBEY are unusual that they remain in private ownership, it was originally a Cistercian Foundation whose Abbot was executed for his part in the unsuccessful revolt against Henry VIII. BARNARD CASTLE, this ruinous Norman castle lies on the fringe of the dales on a rocky crag above this pleasant market town that is also home to the BOWES MUSEUM. KIPLIN HALL lies on the river swale. It is a wonderful Jacobean property of the 17th-century, built as a Hunting Lodge, it was once the home of Lord Baltimore, founder of the state of Maryland U.S.A. Recent restoration has brought the Hall back to an interesting Victorian residence of great comfort. Close to Barnard Castle village are two other historic buildings; EGGLESTONE ABBEY is a fabulous ruin of the 12th-century, whilst ROCKBY PARK is a handsom Palladian Mansion of great charm, it is open to the public and exhibits many treasures.

The Yorkshire Dales are undeniably beautiful, the hills and fields are surrounded with finely structured dry stone walling that has stood the test of centuries. Within the 700 or so square miles of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, four large dales dominate the landscape; other dales wander into rocky gorges beneath the fells and this gives the dales their unique formation. Swaledale, is a brooding, desolate valley crowned by sweeping moorland. Wensleydale, curves and twists its lonely way through the heart of the Dales. Wharfedale is enchanting with a smattering of pretty villages and the Ribblesdale valley hides beneath splendid, lofty moorland peaks. The land here is fertile and for centuries has attracted farmers, other men have been attracted by the lead found in these regions which for decades fed the demands of the industrial revolution. Over the years the dales have been plundered for their treasures but the Yorkshire Dales were saved by their designation as a National Park and the cheap import of lead from other countries. This has been a blessing, for the sheer beauty and magic of the Dales remains for posterity, offering wildlife, flora and matchless scenery, hard to find in any other part of England, Europe or beyond.

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Recommended towns & villages near Yorkshire Dales National Park

Gayle, North Yorkshire

Gayle (17 Pictures)

a Picturesque Village in the county of North Yorkshire

(4.9 miles, 7.9 km, direction N)

The picturesque village of Gayle is found amidst the glorious scenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is on the passage of the Pennine way, close to Hawes and the National Park Centre...


Hawes (108 Pictures)

a Historic Market Town in the county of North Yorkshire

(5.4 miles, 8.7 km, direction N)

This is a thriving, friendly market town at the heart of Wensleydale, it shows beautiful old stone properties, quaint shops, galleries, craft workshops and cafe's arranged around winding cobbled streets...

Village Green, Bainbridge

Bainbridge (11 Pictures)

a Picturesque Village in the county of North Yorkshire

(5.8 miles, 9.3 km, direction N)

Bainbridge is the epitome of a typical Dales village, it comprises of picturesque old stone cottages, with a lively, well quarried stream running through it...

Kettlewell Village, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire.

Kettlewell (49 Pictures)

a Picturesque Village in the county of North Yorkshire

(7.2 miles, 11.6 km, direction SE)

The spectacular limestone beauty of Kettlewell has been appreciated by travellers for decades. It has a series of delightful cottages clustered around the little Cam Beck, a tributary of the River Wharfe as it plunges from Great Whernside...

The old mill

Aysgarth (57 Pictures)

a Picturesque Village in the county of North Yorkshire

(8.2 miles, 13.1 km, direction NE)

Aysgarth is a small village in the Yorkshire Dales known for its beautiful waterfalls on the River Ure. It's a perfect destination for nature lovers, with picturesque walks and charming countryside...

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Recommended attractions near Yorkshire Dales National Park

Aysgarth Lower Falls, Easter weekend 2007. Yorkshire Dales

Aysgarth Falls (49 Pictures)

(8.9 miles, 14.3 km, direction NE)

These magnificent falls, although not the highest in the land are certainly one of the most picturesque sights in Yorkshire. The.....

Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire

Malham Tarn & Moor (4 Pictures)

(9.2 miles, 14.7 km, direction S)

Malham Tarn is a lake in the Yorkshire Dales National Park which inspired English novelist Charles Kingsley to write the classic.....

Bolton Castle in Castle Bolton, North Yorkshire. Mary Queen of Scots was once held prisoner here.

Bolton Castle (62 Pictures)

(10.4 miles, 16.7 km, direction NE)

On a misty morning the ruined crenulated towers of Bolton Castle take on an eyrie aura and it is easy to imagine what this once.....

Gordale Scar,  Malham Cove

Gordale Scar (8 Pictures)

(10.9 miles, 17.5 km, direction S)

Painted by James Ward, written about by Wordsworth in a sonnet, this dramatic limestone ravine is an essential visit when in the.....

Malham Views

Malham Cove (30 Pictures)

(10.9 miles, 17.5 km, direction S)

A natural limestone formation which is a national beauty spot, near Malham, North Yorkshire..

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