The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in Northern England in the historic county of Yorkshire, most of it in the Yorkshire Dales National Park created in 1954. The Dales comprises river valleys and the hills, rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed. In Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Garsdale, the area extends westwards across the watershed, but most of the valleys drain eastwards to the Vale of York, into the Ouse and the Humber. Much of the rural area is used for agriculture, with residents living in small villages and hamlets or farmsteads. Miles of dry stone walls and much of the traditional architecture has remained, including some field barns, though many are no longer in active use. Breeding of sheep and rearing of cattle remains common. To supplement their incomes, many farmers have diversified, with some providing accommodations for tourists. Some agricultural shows are held each year. In 2016, there were 3.8 million visits to the Yorkshire Dales National Park including 0.48 million who stayed at least one night. Visitors are often attracted by the hiking trails, including some that lead to beautiful waterfalls and by the picturesque villages. The latter include Kirkby Lonsdale, Hawes, Appletreewick, Masham, Clapham, Long Preston and Malham. The underlying limestone in parts of the Dales has extensive cave systems, including the 87-kilometre (54-mile) long Three Counties System, making it a major area for caving in the UK. Some caves are open to the public for tours.
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