Case study - the Yorkshire Dales

Land uses

Land Uses for Glaciated UplandsLand uses for an upland limestone landscape

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.

Three land uses which are particularly important in the Yorkshire Dales are farming, industry and recreation. We'll look at each in turn.

Location of the Yorkshire Dales National Park


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

Farming in the Yorkshire Dales is characterised by sheep grazing on the uplands, dairy cattle fed from pasture in the valley floors and a landscape of dry stone walls and stone barns. Many farmers have had to diversify their farm to generate more income, eg holiday cottages at Horsehouse Farm.

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 which employs around 70 people. Small hi-tech industrial units are also located in Hawes.

Yorkshire Dales - quarrying

Recreation and tourism

Visitors have been travelling to the Yorkshire Dales since the 18th century when writers and artists sought out the dramatic landscapes.

The growth of the rail network in the 19th century brought increased numbers, but the most dramatic growth came in the late 20th century as a result of the rise in car ownership. More than 90 per cent of today's visitors arrive by car.

Yorkshire Dales - tourism and recreation

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 quaint little 'honeypot' 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.