Yorkshire's Natural Wonders
With Summer coming up, everyone in the office is booking their summer holidays and so we’re all throwing ideas out about where to visit! The natural wonders of the world came up – Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon and so on – which led us to think a little closer to home. What are Yorkshire’s natural wonders? We have so much to offer that we thought we’d blog about it. These are all natural – therefore outdoors – so Summer is the perfect time to visit! Remember to take your pork pie picnic with you when you go and send us photos of your day out on social media!
You might have been to Malham on a school trip and have fond memories of a picnic at the bottom of the cove – before complaining up each and every step to the top (there are about 400!) Malham Cove was formed in the last Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago when the surge of water from melting glaciers formed a waterfall over the cove which formed the formation. The curved shape was formed because of the sheer amount of water which created the shape of the cove because the middle was more eroded than the sides. From climbers to cavers to walkers and historians/geologists, there’s lots of reasons that various groups visit.
What remains is that in Yorkshire is a stunning natural wonder – what gets better than a beauty spot that has seen so much of history!
England’s oldest tourist attraction, Mother Shipton’s Cave is the birthplace of the famous prophetess – Ursula Southeil. She saw into the future and foretold the fates of several rules as well as the invention of iron ships, the Great Fire of London (1666) and also the defeat of the Spanish Armada. She also made traditional remedies. She made her living as a prophetess and witch, telling the future to those who came to see her.
The legend goes that she was born during a thunderstorm in a cave along the River Nidd in Knaresborough. At the time she gave birth to Ursula, her mother Agatha was only 15 years old and raised her daughter in the cave for the first two years of her life. She spent most of her time around the cave growing up and studied the forest, flowers and herbs and made potions and remedies with them.
You can now see the cave she lived in and the surrounding forest she found her herbs in. The legends might have been embellished over the years but isn’t it magical to read them anyway?
Between Wharfedale and Nidderdale, just three miles from Pateley Bridge are Stump Cross Caverns. One mile of the caves are open to the public and the limestone cave formations look really beautiful. The natural features within the caves are stalagmites and stalactites. Open everyday from 10am to 5pm, they’re not for you if you have claustrophobia or a fear of being underground, but otherwise, are a remarkably hidden gem in Yorkshire.
The formation of the caves began million of years ago – what is now the beautiful Yorkshire Dales actually used to be covered by oceans. The sediment from the ocean floor then – over a period of time – formed limestone. That is essentially what the caves are made from – they were then eroded by acid rain. The cracks began to form when streams filtered underground and eventually, caverns were formed. They were discovered in 1860 by miners – imagine finding these beautiful natural caves!
Looking like something off Countryfile, Bempton Cliffs on the East coast give a dramatic setting. The chalk cliffs give views over the sea and you can see some incredible wildlife. According to the RSPB website, there’s been sightings of puffins, gannets, Windhovers and Jackdaws. Of course, it will depend when you go as to what wildlife you might see – but it’s a beautiful walk and you can pretend to be Sir David Attenborough and narrate your walks down the cliffs.
In the North Yorkshire countryside, there’s a hidden area that you may never have heard of called the Howardian Hills. Sitting between the North York Moors National Park, the Vale of York and the Yorkshire Wolds. Take a stroll through wooded rolling countryside, villages, country houses (including Castle Howard) and pasture fields.
Over the years, the landscape is relatively untouched and remains an area of stunning natural beauty but owners of Castle Howard, Hovingham Hall, Newburgh Priory, Nunnington Hall and Gilling Castle. It’s an area of natural outstanding beauty; with features of English history; Iron Age dyke systems, medieval castles and monasteries for example. Go explore and see what wildlife you can see!
About a mile away from Malham which we mentioned above, Gordale Scar similarly hasn’t been altered in centuries; apart from the changes nature has seen to of course. Created during the Ice Age, the melt water over time formed a deep cavern; it weakened as the cavern deepened and the pressure from the water became too much and so it collapsed. This then created a waterfall and gorge, similar to how it is today. Two waterfalls cascade over limestone cliffs which stand proudly at 100m high. The stream that flows through the scar is called Gordale Beck – follow this as it goes over Janet’s Foss before it joins Malham Beck to flow and join the River Aire.
It’s an incredibly impressive formation created by nature that is well worth the visit. You could visit the Scar when you visit Malham Cove or make a day out of just visiting Gordale Scar and following the stream – the rocks surrounding the waterfall, streams and becks so be very careful if you are going to walk the course.
Ultimately, we could write another 1000 words on Yorkshire’s natural wonders there are so many. We’re so fortunate to live in a county that has such outstandingly beautiful areas – some seeped in history and some that are the stuff of legend. If you visit any of the places above, don’t forget your walking shoes and pork pies to fuel your adventures! Tag us in any photos of your explorations on social media.