Case study - the Yorkshire Dales

Land uses for an upland limestone landscape

Location of the Yorkshire Dales National Park

The relative importance of these land uses will vary, depending on the nature of the rocks and the physical landscape. Water storage and supply will be more important in a glaciated area such as the Lake District, than in a limestone area such as the Yorkshire Dales.

Land Uses for Glaciated UplandsLand uses for glaciated uplands

Three land uses which are particularly important in the Yorkshire Dales are farming, industry and recreation.


Poor upland weather conditions, a lack of surface water (due to the permeable limestone), thin soils and bare rock mean that crops cannot be grown.

Farming in the Yorkshire Dales is mainly hill sheep farming on the uplands and dairy cattle feed from pasture in the valley floors. Many farmers have had to diversify their farms to generate more income, eg the holiday cottages.

Yorkshire Dales - agriculture


Quarrying in the Yorkshire Dales is an important industry. Around 4.5 million tonnes of rock are quarried each year.

The main rocks quarried are carboniferous limestone and gritstone. Most of the rock is used in the construction industry. One of the largest quarries is Swinden Quarry.

Yorkshire Dales - quarrying

Recreation and tourism

Visitors go to the Yorkshire Dales to admire the distinctive scenery and landscape, such as Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and the waterfalls at Aysgarth and Ingleton.

People enjoy visiting the traditional villages such as Malham and like to find out about the history of the area at The Dales Countryside Museum. Tourists and school children visit limestone caves, eg White Scar Caves, to admire the many dripstone features such as the Witches Tongue.

Freeholders’ Wood, consisting of ancient semi-natural woodland, has trails and a variety of wildlife to see. Many visitors go hill walking and there are also a number of footpaths in the area.

Other activities such as potholing, caving, rock climbing, mountain biking and horse riding are also enjoyed in the Yorkshire Dales.

Yorkshire Dales - tourism and recreation