Overall, the area’s Carboniferous rocks form a layered sequence which is tilted gently to the north-east. This shallow tilt has influenced the shape of the landscape, with its south-facing escarpment and long gentle dip slopes down to the Eden Valley. The dramatic scars of the Great Scar Limestone Group in the central part of the area are a result of differential erosion of the layers.
Limestone and some sandstones are relatively hard rocks which are more resistant to erosion, whereas the softer mudstones wear away more easily. Within the limestones themselves there are variations in resistance to erosion. All these differences lead to typical stepped or terraced hill profiles.