Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales, located sitting aside the central Pennine watershed, has been described as 'wild, expansive, tranquil and, at times, awesome and bleak'. Whatever the description, the Dales unquestionably occupies the finest area of upland limestone country in Britain and possesses a unique combination of both related and contrasting landscapes. The Yorkshire Dales National Park holds a 'sympathetic blend of pastoral valleys, delightful waterfalls, heather-covered grit-capped fells, flower-rich hay meadows, intricate patterns of dry-stone walls, field barns and stone villages', and to add a further dramatic dimension, also boasts of 'exposed limestone cliffs, gorges, valley-side screes and a fretwork of limestone pavements, scraped clean by glacier ice'.
The Dales was granted National Park status in 1954 owing to its range of wildlife and their habitats, scenery and local history, and is reputed to be one of England's most popular National Parks. Covering 1,7692 kilometres, the Dales are home to approximately 19,000 residents and receive an estimated 8.3 million visitors every year, many of whom are hikers, enjoying the challenge of walking the Pennine Way, which crosses the park from north to south.
Offering a multitude of activities for every visitor, from pot-holing and hill walking to local history tours and visitor's art classes - handy for capturing the beauty of the heather topped moors and colourful meadows - the Dales Visitors Centre has a catalogue of activities for people of all ages, tastes and abilities. The park also offers the award-winning Dales Countryside Museum, where visitors can 'travel back in time over 10,000 years and see through displays, inter-actives and exhibitions how the Yorkshire Dales we know and love today came about'. Visitors are also invited to 'get to know the many different people who have lived and worked in this beautiful, but sometimes harsh, land'.
Further information on the Yorkshire Dales and the National Parks Commission can be found on the official website at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk, where some of the information for this article were obtained.