The Physical Geography of the County and Its Natural Areas

Yorkshire is located in the far north of England. It is situated above the Humber estuary and goes as far north as the river Tees. Its eastern boundary is the North Sea and on the western side the Pennine Hills separates Yorkshire from Lancashire. Other counties that share boundaries with Yorkshire include Durham, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire and Cheshire. Of all of the counties in England Yorkshire has the 4th highest point which is Whernside which is found in the North of the county, in the Yorkshire Dales.

Cotter Force Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a National Park in the Pennine Hills. The Pennines are often referred to as the “back bone of England” as they spread up the country for 270 miles keeping Yorkshire away from the North-West of the country. The Yorkshire Dales are dominated by limestone geology. This has produced a landscape of moorlands, river valleys, mountains, hills and fells. There are many waterfalls in the park plus a labyrinth of caves underground, with limestone pavement on top of the ground.

The North Yorkshire Moors National Park is in the far north of the county and spread across to the North Sea. It contains the largest expanse of heather moorland in the UK. Like the Yorkshire Dales the dominant rock type is limestone, but the Yorkshire Moors are on a plateau, so are not as high as the Dales. The plateau of the Moors is intersected by deep dales cut into the land by rivers. The valleys produce woodland and cultivated land. The largest dale on the Yorkshire Moors is Eskdale which has been formed by the River Esk, which has cut its way through the plateau as it has made its way to join the North Sea at Whitby.

The Yorkshire Moors moorland

There are many rivers in Yorkshire, with the west and centre of the county being dominated by the catchment area of the River Ouse and several smaller rivers feeding into it. These include the Swale, the Ure, the Nidd, the Derwent, the Don and the Wharfe which produces a large catchment area. The north of the county as well as having the River Esk also contains the river Tees. In the west of the county is the River Ribble which flows into the Irish Sea. One of the reasons that the county is well served by rivers is due to its climate.

Generally, the climate in Yorkshire is temperate and wet. The more exposed the area is the wetter it becomes. On the upper areas of the Pennines snow can lie on the ground for between 45 and 75 days of the year. Generally, however the climate is dominated by wet warm weather. The average rainfall is close to 600 inches per year although there are great variations within the county itself. Bradford and Leeds are the 7th and 8th wettest cities in the UK, yet York ranks only 52nd in the same list. This because the west of the county is wetter than the east. Yorkshire is a large and beautiful county. It is protected by National Parks and is famous for its green space. The combination of rock type and climate has shaped it into the county that appears today.