Home » Limestone pavements, Yorkshire Dales
Limestone pavements are found all over the Yorkshire Dales. They are one of essential features of limestone countryside. Limestone is a sedimentary rock, usually made up of the remains of sea creatures in shallow tropical seas. These deposits were laid down over periods of many millions of years. These beds of rocks have then been moved by plate tectonics and uplifted in periods of geological thrust. This has raised them up far from the sea beds in which they were formed. Erosion over many years, and in Yorkshire particularly the last ice age, has removed the other rocks and soil that covered the limestone. This has left the limestone exposed over huge areas.
Another feature of limestone is that it dissolves in rain water – albeit slowly. So again, over thousands of years, water has found its way through the cracks and planes that existed when the rock was first formed. The water eats away at these cracks, expanding them until they can form huge underground caverns, such as Gaping Gill on the slopes of Ingleborough. This is why limestone country is closely associated with the sport of caving, and the Yorkshire Dales is a world-class location in this regard.
On the surface, the limestone pavement appears as huge blocks (known as clints) separated by deep gaps (known as grikes). The grikes form a sheltered location where plant species can thrive when they couldn’t up on the exposed hillsides.