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Frozen Land


Iced Over

Over the past 2.6 million years northern England has been covered in ice many times. Long periods of arctic conditions known as ‘glacials’ alternated with warmer ‘interglacials’ when the climate was similar or even warmer than today; we are currently in an interglacial, but one day – thousands of years in the future – ice will return to once again blanket the landscape.

During the glaciations great ice sheets advanced out from mountainous areas in Scotland and northern England. There have been at least ten major glaciations during the Quaternary, each one obliterating many of the effects of the previous one. For this reason most glacial landforms and deposits in the Westmorland Dales date from the last major glaciation, which was at its height around 27,000 years ago.

Schematic map showing maximum extent of ice over Britain and Ireland 27,000 years ago (overlain over modern coastlines). Based on information and maps compiled by Andy Emery and others in
Looking west over the River Eden to the Westmorland Dales from the northern end of Mallerstang. The low light highlights the streamlined shapes of drumlins in this ice-smoothed landscape. © E. Pickett