The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in Northern England in the historic county of Yorkshire, most of it in the Yorkshire Dales National Park created in 1954

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The Dales comprises river valleys and the hills, rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed.

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In Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Garsdale, the area extends westwards across the watershed, but most of the valleys drain eastwards to the Vale of York, into the Ouse and the Humber. The extensive limestone cave systems are a major area for caving in the UK.

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The Yorkshire Dales spread to the north from the market and spa towns of Settle, Skipton, Ilkley and Harrogate in North Yorkshire, to the southern boundary in Wharfedale and Airedale. The lower reaches of these valleys are not usually included in the area, and Calderdale, much further south, is not part of the Dales even though it is a dale, is in Yorkshire, and its upper reaches are as scenic and rural as many further north. Most of the larger southern dales, Ribblesdale, Malhamdale and Airedale, Wharfedale and Nidderdale, run roughly parallel from north to south. The more northerly dales, Wensleydale and Swaledale run generally from west to east. There are many other smaller or lesser known dales such as Arkengarthdale, Bishopdale, Clapdale, Coverdale, Kingsdale, Littondale, Langstrothdale, Raydale, Waldendale and the Washburn Valley whose tributary streams and rivers feed into the larger valleys, and Barbondale, Dentdale, Deepdale and Garsdale which feed west to the River Lune.

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The Yorkshire Dales is home to outstanding scenery, great castles, abbeys and a breathtakingly peaceful atmosphere. At its heart are two very special protected areas – Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – as well as it having the Forest of Bowland AONB and North Pennines AONB as its close neighbours. These protected areas are truly not to be missed.

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Each of the Yorkshire Dales has a different character. The Southern Dales are less remote, yet still wildly beautiful. The Northern Dales provide wild heather moorland and valleys full of hay meadows, drystone walls and barns. And in the West, the pretty villages and small towns each have their own charm. The Dales are worth a visit at any time of year – whether it’s to visit a snug country pub with an open fire in the winter months, or stay in a rambling riverside cottage for a summer break. The possibilities are endless!

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The characteristic scenery of the Dales is green upland pastures separated by dry-stone walls and grazed by sheep and cattle. Many upland areas consist of heather moorland, used for grouse shooting from 12 August (the Glorious Twelfth)

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The majority of visitors are sightseers, with 75% visiting to drive around and 65% walking around. 26% also partake in hiking nature trails and spotting wildlife. 45% visit an information centre and 35% visit a castle or other historic site. 94% of visitors travel in a private mode of transport, with 90% using a car. The remaining 6% travel using public transport.

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