The history of the Dales is a fascinating and interesting story of rocks, ice and people. As a walker the opportunities to explore the landscape and man’s influence on it are endless.

Rocks and Ice: No game of thrones dragons just a beautifully sculptured landscape shaped by the last ice age and the retreating glaciers only 15,000 years ago. However it is the underlying limestone rock which gives the area its character. Walking through limestone scars, over limestone pavements and knowing that the shake holes and genuine potholes lead to the biggest underground caving system in the country.

Man has taken away the tree cover over the years but left a landscape of drystone walks, barns and short grass. The fields and higher lands offer a perfect pasture for the Swaledales, Dalesbred, Blue Leicesters and Wensleydales breeds of sheep, when they walk they are everywhere.

Sheep in Long Preston

Man has also left his mark on the landscape with his mines and construction. Swaledale and Upper Wharfedale in particular have a bare landscape where lead and iron were pulled out the lands. However it is the iconic Settle and Carlisle railway that is the must see feature of the Dales, the most scenic rail line in England with a series of spectacular viaducts. Try walking between the stations, a great challenge in some cases but making for an excellent challenge.


Visit the Where2walk website and look for our favourite Walks through History.