Spanning 680 miles, the Dales begins in the southern part of North Yorkshire and covers much of the county as well as section close to Sedbergh which is now in Cumbria. Running through the middle of the Dales are the Pennines, a mountain range that has been nicknamed the “Backbone of England”.
Established as a National Park in 1954, the Dales offer much to see and do. Thrill-seekers can take part in adventurous activities such as caving and potholing, more reserved outdoors types can enjoy a pleasant hike through picturesque countryside, while others can sit back and enjoy a drink in one of the region’s many cafes and bars.
Because of its huge size, the Dales are very diverse, with each area having its own identifiable characteristics. Some parts are flat with beautifully flowing rivers cutting through the landscape such as the Wharfe and the Skirfare, while others are hilly and challenging.
At the south of the National Park, visitors will see many crags, caves and pavements cut into some of the country’s most striking karst limestone areas.
One of the best known limestone formations can be found at Malham Cove. Located around a kilometre from the Malham village, the cove has a white cliff face standing at a colossal 260 feet and it really is a sight to behold.
The cove was formed between 12,000 and 50,000 years ago as the ground was frozen during the last Ice Age. As a glacier above it melted, a huge waterfall emerged at the site, but now all that remains is a small stream on the moors to the north.
Along with the nearby limestone ravine Gordale Scar, Malham Cove was featured in the BBC’s Seven Natural Wonders series and can also be seen briefly in the seventh Harry Potter movie – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One.