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Yorkshire Dales Tourist Information
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With some of the finest scenery in Britain, the Yorkshire Dales is a place of heather-strewn moors, lush green valleys topped by limestone cliffs, gushing waterfalls and dry stone walls that criss-cross the landscape like man-made serpents.
Filled with distinctive, mellow villages and the ruins of once-vibrant abbeys and castles, it has mountains, unique limestone pavements and a subterranean world of cathedral-sized caves.
Television producers have frequently been seduced by the rural, bygone ambience
of this quintessentially northern terrain. The Dales, for example, is the
location of the long-running TV soap opera 'Emmerdale' and was also chosen as the backdrop to the James Herriot classic
'All Creatures Great and Small' as well as movies such as 'Calendar Girls' and 'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves'.
Now based around agriculture, the Dales were originally created by the melting of ice-bound glaciers. This eroded the underlying limestone and sandstone about 300 million years ago. Later the area became a Roman centre for lead mining and has also been an important hub for the quarrying of limestone.
Within the region lies the splendid Yorkshire Dales National Park, which covers an area of more than 680 square miles.
The Park is a magnet for lovers of the great outdoors and among its nine million annual visitors are many walkers, climbers, riders, bird watchers, cyclists, anglers, archaeologists and potholers.
Designated as a national park in 1954, the area is rich in wildlife and possesses numerous nature reserves. Among its rarest creatures are northern butterflies, birds of prey, black grouse, skylarks and even red squirrels.
Its unusual geology has given rise to awesome features such as the white cliffs and limestone gorges of Malham Cove and Gordale Scar, near Malham, Kilnsey Crag and the millstone grit outcrops of Brimham Rocks, near Pateley Bridge.
Dramatic waterfalls, often tucked away in wooded ravines, include the famous Waterfalls Walk at Ingleton, which has the powerful Thornton Force.
Hardraw Force, Britain's highest unbroken waterfall, and Aysgarth Force are both in picturesque Wensleydale while show caves include White Scar Caves, near Ingleton, Ingleborough Cave at Clapdale and Stump Cross Caverns near Pateley Bridge.
Britain's most famous long distance footpath, the 250-mile Pennine Way passes through here, as does the Dales Way footpath and Wainwright's popular Coast to Coast Walk. Ribblesdale boasts three of Yorkshire's highest mountains - Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent - and it's here that you can take part in the gruelling
'Three Peaks Challenge', or wander through the magnificent Ingleborough National Nature Reserve.
The pretty Wensleydale village of Askrigg was transformed into James Herriot's fictional village of Darrowby for the 1980s TV series
'All Creatures Great and Small', based on the life of the real veterinary surgeon, Alf Wright. His former home is at Thirsk and has become The World of James Herriot Museum.
The innumerable dales include Wharfedale, home to the Grassington National Park Centre and 12th century Bolton Abbey. The beauty of geologically significant Malhamdale includes the marsh-lake of Malham Tarn. In the north is Swaledale. Famous for lead mining up to the 19th century, it remains popular today for its hardy breed of sheep and its multi-coloured wildflower meadows.
One of the most important sites of interest is the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, near Ripon. This magnificent ruin was an impressive Cistercian abbey founded in 1132 by dissent monks from York. It is now part of a vast, elegant landscape garden run by the National Trust.
While mills, quarries and kilns can still be seen scattered across the area, many visitors will want to see the region's imposing castles, such as 11th century Richmond Castle and the Norman castle at Skipton.
Railways offer a leisurely way to explore the countryside and include the Embsay & Bolton Steam Railway and the spectacular Settle-Carlisle Railway which starts in the uplands around Settle, passes the Three Peaks and crosses the 24-span viaduct at Ribblehead on its way to Carlisle.
But perhaps the visitor's first stop should be one of the many local museums. The Dales Countryside Museum, for example, delves into local industry, traditional lifestyles and natural history.
Tourist Information Centres
Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre Aysgarth, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 3TH
Tel: 01969 663424 Fax: 01969 663424
Bedale Hall, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 1AA
Tel: 01677 424604 Fax: 01677 427146
National Park Centre, Colvend, Hebden Rd, Grassington, North Yorkshire, BD23 5LB
Tel: 01756 752774 Fax: 01756 753358
Tourist Information, Royal Baths Assembly Rooms, Crescent Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2RR
Tel: 01423 537300 Fax: 01423 537305
Dales Countryside Museum, Station Yard, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3NT
Tel: 01969 667450 Fax: 01969 667165
Tourist Information Point, Pen-y-Ghent Café, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 0HE
Tel: 01729 860333 Fax: 01729 860333
Tourist Information, The Community Centre Car Park, Ingleton, North Yorkshire, LA6 3HG
Tel: 015242 41049 Fax: 015242 41701
Tourist Information Centre, 9 Castle Court, Market Place, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, HG5 8AE
Tel: 01423 866886 Fax: 01423 866886
Tourist Information Centre, Dales Haven, Market Place,
Leyburn, DL8 5BJ
Tel: 01969 622317
Tourist Information Centre, Malham, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DA
Tel: 01729 830363 Fax: 01729 830673
Tourist Information, The Applegarth Car Park, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 8LZ
Tel: 01609 776864 Fax: 01609 776864
Tourist Information, 18 High Street, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, HG3 5AW
Tel: 01423 711147 Fax: 01423 711147
Tourist Information, The Literary Institute, The Green, Reeth, North Yorkshire, DL11 6TE
Tel: 01748 884059 Fax: 01748 884059
Tourist Information Centre, Friary Gardens, Victoria Road, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 4AJ
Tel: 01748 850252 Fax: 01748 825994
Tourist Information Centre, Minster Rd, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1LT
Tel: 01765 604625 Fax: 01765 604625
Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Cheapside, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9EJ
Tel: 01729 825192 Fax: 01729 824381
Tourist Information Centre, 35 Coach Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire
Tel: 01756 792809 Fax: 01756 797528