The distinctive landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds was created following the retreat of the last ice-age some 10,000 years ago. It covers approximately 1300 square kilometres and is actually the most northern end of a band of chalk which begins in the south of England.
The Yorkshire Wolds are made up of rolling hills and valleys starting at the Humber Estuary and ending on the coast, between Bridlington and Scarborough. The highest point of the Wolds is Garrowby Hill, at approximately 800 feet (240 metres) above sea level.
People have lived in the Wolds for thousands of years, leaving a rich archeological legacy including Neolithic and Bronze Age sites. The village of Brough, at the southern end of the Yorkshire Wolds, was the site of the Roman settlement named ‘Petuaria’. It lay at the end of a Roman road which led north, to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
View detailed map of Yorkshire Wolds.
The wildlife of the Wolds is dominated by the chalk that underlies the area, which provides thin, light and calcareous soils. Habitats more typical of southern England can be found, including good examples of chalk grassland, spring-fed chalk streams and ash-dominated woodlands. These are often restricted to the steep valley slopes that have escaped the agricultural improvement typical of the wider countryside. In many areas wildflower grassland is restricted to the road-side verges, including the historic drove roads that were once used to move stock through the vast open sheep walk that once covered the area. Keep your eyes peeled for holly standards peering above the long hawthorn hedges; these were once a typical feature of hedgerows in the area.
A wide ranging flora can still be found, including knapweeds, scabious, cranesbills and, in some areas, orchids and other more localised, chalk-loving plants. A host of butterflies, moths and other invertebrates can be found. Local rarities include the chalk carpet moth and dingy skipper butterflies. More common, but equally impressive, are the marbled white and common blue.
The Wolds still hold good populations of farmland birds that have declined in other areas, including grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer. Recently red kites and buzzards have moved into the area after long absences and can be seen soaring above the dales and woodlands. Hares can be seen boxing their courtship displays in March and have somewhat of a stronghold on the Wolds, as do the ghostly barn owls that quarter fields at dawn and dusk.
Read more information on wildlife in East Yorshire.
Tourists are attracted to the wildlife, history and landscape of the Wolds. As a result, the Wolds now host a variety of events and activities to encourage local residents and other visitors to enjoy the countryside.