The Westmorland Dales forms the north-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is a beautiful and distinctive, but relatively little-known, part of east Cumbria with a rich and varied geological heritage.
The area stretches from Tebay to Kirkby Stephen and from the northern slopes of the Howgill Fells to the edge of the Eden Valley. At its heart are the limestone scarps, crags and dramatic pavements of the Carboniferous Great Scar Limestone. Criss-crossed by dry stone walls and dotted with old quarries and limekilns, these limestone landscapes give the area a distinctive character with links to the scenery of the Three Peaks area to the south.
Rolling green farmland in the north is underlain by limestone, sandstone and mudstone, part of a younger sequence of Carboniferous rocks known as the Yoredale Group. In the north-east there are small areas of the distinctive red rocks of the Eden Valley, which date from the Permian and Triassic periods. To the south the steep-sided Howgill Fells, made of Silurian slaty rocks, rise up from the floodplain of the upper Lune Valley. Glacial deposits and landforms, a legacy of the last major glaciation, mantle the area and tell of past ice sheets and meltwater.
The area’s stunning situation and varied scenery make the Westmorland Dales a wonderful area to explore and discover the links between geology, landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage.
More detailed information is available on Cumbria GeoConservation’s website . This includes fourteen factsheets on designated local geological sites and three geology self-guided walks which can be downloaded.