In Yorkshire there is a very close relationship between the major topographical areas and the geological period in which they were formed. The Pennine chain of Hills in the west is of Carboniferous origin. The central vale is Permo-Triassic. The North York Moors in the north-east of the county are Jurassic in age while the Yorkshire Wolds to the south east are Cretaceous chalk uplands. The plain of Holderness and the Humberhead levels both owe their present form to the Quaternary ice ages.
Much of Yorkshire presents heavily glaciated scenery as few places escaped the great ice sheets as they advanced during the last ice age.
Yorkshire is drained by several rivers. In western and central Yorkshire, the many rivers empty their waters into the River Ouse, which reaches the North Sea via the Humber Estuary.The most northerly of the rivers in the Ouse system is the River Swale, which drains Swaledale before passing through Richmond and meandering across the Vale of Mowbray.
Next in the Ouse system, draining in Wensleydale, is the River Ure, which joins the Swale east of Boroughbridge. The River Nidd rises on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and flows along Nidderdale before reaching the Vale of York.
The Ouse is the name given to the river after its confluence with the Ure at Ouse Gill Beck. The River Wharfe, which drains Wharfedale, joins the Ouse upstream of Cawood. The Rivers Aire and Calder are more southerly contributors to the River Ouse. The most southerly Yorkshire tributary is the River Don, which flows northwards to join the main river at Goole.
The River Derwent rises on the North York Moors, flows south then westwards through the Vale of Pickering, then turns south again to drain the eastern part of the Vale of York. It empties into the River Ouse at Barmby on the Marsh.
To the east of the Yorkshire Wolds, the River Hull flows southwards to join the Humber Estuary at Kingston upon Hull. The western Pennines are served by the River Ribble, which drains westwards into the Irish Sea close to Lytham St Annes.The largest freshwater lake in the region is Hornsea Mere in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
In the far north of the county, the River Tees flows eastwards through Teesdale and empties its waters into the North Sea downstream of Middlesbrough. The smaller River Esk flows from west to east at the northern foot of the North York Moors to reach the sea at Whitby.
Natural England, the name given to the body responsible to the UK government for natural affairs has defined 14 distinctive Natural Areas in Yorkshire. These are:
Figures in brackets refer to the equivalent Joint Character Areas outlined in the next section and illustrated on the map.
Natural Areas are defined as "biogeographic zones which reflect the geographic foundation, the natural systems and processes, and the wildlife in different parts of England, and provide a framework for setting objectives for nature conservation."
The Natural Areas concept was further refined by the Joint Nature Conservancy Council in their definition of Joint Character Areas. These used Natural Areas for their basis but added other defining characteristics such as historical associations to produce a list of characteristic areas within the county.
The River Ouse is a river in North Yorkshire, England. Hydrologically, the river is a continuation of the River Ure, and the combined length of the River Ure and River Ouse makes it, at 129 miles (208 km), the sixth longest river of the United Kingdom and the longest to flow entirely in one county. The length of the Ouse alone is about 52 miles (84 km) but the total length of the river is disputed.
The Vale of York is an area of flat land in the northeast of England. The vale is a major agricultural area and serves as the main north–south transport corridor for Northern England.
The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Riding or East Yorkshire, is an area in Northern England. The name is traditionally and geographically a reference to the easternmost of the three subdivisions of the traditional county of Yorkshire. The boundaries of the East Riding, the North Riding and the West Riding were historically treated as three separate areas for many cultural and legal purposes, such as having separate quarter sessions. In 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888, administrative counties were formed on the existing historic county boundaries in England, but in Yorkshire, given the vast size of the county area, three administrative county councils were created, based on the historic boundaries of the three Ridings. The East Riding County Council was the administrative local government and ceremonial county (Lieutenancy) area established for the area ; it remained in place for eighty-six years until being removed for new administrative tiers of local government.
The Derwent is a river in Yorkshire in the north of England. It flows from Fylingdales Moor in the North York Moors National Park, then southwards as far as its confluence with the River Hertford then westwards through the Vale of Pickering, south through Kirkham Gorge and the Vale of York, joining the River Ouse at Barmby on the Marsh. The confluence is unusual in that the Derwent converges on the Ouse at a shallow angle in an upstream direction.
The Pennines, also known as the Pennine Chain or Pennine Hills, is a range of hills and mountains separating North West England from Yorkshire and North East England.
Wensleydale is the dale or upper valley of the River Ure on the east side of the Pennines, one of the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire, England.
Holderness is an area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, on the east coast of England. An area of rich agricultural land, Holderness was marshland until it was drained in the Middle Ages. Topographically, Holderness has more in common with the Netherlands than with other parts of Yorkshire. To the north and west are the Yorkshire Wolds.
Swaledale is one of the northernmost dales (valleys) in Yorkshire Dales National Park, located in northern England. It is the dale of the River Swale on the east side of the Pennines in North Yorkshire.
The River Ure in North Yorkshire, England is approximately 74 miles (119 km) long from its source to the point where it becomes the River Ouse. It is the principal river of Wensleydale, which is the only major dale now named after a village rather than its river. The old name for the valley was Yoredale after the river that runs through it.
Yorkshire is a historic county of England, centred on the county town of York. The region was first occupied after the retreat of the ice age around 8000 BC. During the first millennium AD it was occupied by Romans, Angles and Vikings. The name comes from "Eborakon" an old Brythonic name which probably derives from "Efor" or "the place of the yew-trees." Many Yorkshire dialect words and aspects of pronunciation derive from old Norse due to the Viking influence in this region. The name "Yorkshire", first appeared in writing in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1065. It was originally composed of three sections called Thrydings, subsequently referred to as Ridings.
Lake Pickering was an extensive proglacial lake of the Devensian glacial. It filled the Vale of Pickering between the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds, when the ice blocked the drainage, which had flowed north-eastwards past the site of Filey towards the Northern North Sea basin. The lake surface rose until it overflowed southwards and cut an exit between the Howardian Hills and the Yorkshire Wolds at Kirkham Priory between Malton and Stamford Bridge, so creating the River Derwent.
The River Wiske in Yorkshire,[England and is a tributary of the River Swale. The Wiske gives its name to several of the villages it passes through. The name Wiske is derived from an Old English word wisca meaning a water meadow. It was also known as the Foulbroke, a name for which some writers commented that it was well deserved.
The River Nidd is a tributary of the River Ouse in the English county of North Yorkshire. In its first few miles it is dammed three times to create Angram Reservoir, Scar House Reservoir and Gouthwaite Reservoir, which attract a total of around 150,000 visitors a year. The Nidd can overflow the reservoirs, flooding the caves in the valley. In such cases the river overflows into the normally dry river bed past Lofthouse through to Gouthwaite Reservoir. The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust YDRT has a remit to conserve the ecological condition of the River Nidd from its headwaters to the Humber estuary.
The Geology of Yorkshire in northern England shows a very close relationship between the major topographical areas and the geological period in which their rocks were formed. The rocks of the Pennine chain of hills in the west are of Carboniferous origin whilst those of the central vale are Permo-Triassic. The North York Moors in the north-east of the county are Jurassic in age while the Yorkshire Wolds to the south east are Cretaceous chalk uplands. The plain of Holderness and the Humberhead levels both owe their present form to the Quaternary ice ages. The strata become gradually younger from west to east.
The Humberhead Levels is a national character area covering a large expanse of flat, low-lying land towards the western end of the Humber estuary in northern England. The levels occupy the former Glacial Lake Humber, an area bounded to the east by the Yorkshire Wolds and the northern Lincolnshire Edge, a limestone escarpment, and to the west by the southern part of the Yorkshire magnesian limestone ridge. In the north the levels merge into the slightly more undulating Vale of York close to the Escrick glacial moraine, and to the south merge into the Trent Vale.
The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust was formed in 2004 with a remit to improve, restore and conserve the rivers Swale, Ure, Wharfe and Nidd whose headwaters lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The trust is a member of the Association of Rivers Trusts which set up as a charity in 2001 to represent member trusts and assist them with conserving river catchments across England and Wales.
The Natural Areas of England are regions, officially designated by Natural England, each with a characteristic association of wildlife and natural features. More formally, they are defined as "biogeographic zones which reflect the geological foundation, the natural systems and processes and the wildlife in different parts of England...".
A National Character Area (NCA) is a natural subdivision of England based on a combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and economic activity. There are 159 National Character Areas and they follow natural, rather than administrative, boundaries. They are defined by Natural England, the UK government's advisors on the natural environment.
The River Burn is a river that flows wholly within North Yorkshire, England. The river starts as several small streams on Masham Moor and drains Colsterdale flowing eastwards before emptying into the River Ure just south of Masham. Conservation work on removing a weir and introducing fish to the river in 2016 has meant that salmon have been recorded spawning in the river for the first time in over 100 years.