Vale of York

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The Vale of York is an area of flat land in the north-east of England. The vale is a major agricultural area and serves as the main north-south transport corridor for northern England.

The Vale of York is often supposed to stretch from the River Tees in the north to the Humber estuary in the south. More properly it is just the central part of this area which is truly the Vale of York, with the Vale of Mowbray to its north and the Humberhead Levels to its south. It is bounded by the Howardian Hills and Yorkshire Wolds to the east and the Pennines to the west. The low lying ridge of the Escrick moraine marks its southern boundary. York lies in the middle of the area.




As part of Great Britain, the Vale of York generally has cool summers and relatively mild winters. Weather conditions vary from day to day as well as from season to season. The latitude of the area means that it is influenced by predominantly westerly winds with depressions and their associated fronts, bringing with them unsettled and windy weather, particularly in winter. Between depressions there are often small mobile anticyclones that bring periods of fair weather. In winter anticyclones bring cold dry weather. In summer the anticyclones tend to bring dry settled conditions which can lead to drought. For its latitude this area is mild in winter and cooler in summer due to the influence of the Gulf Stream in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Air temperature varies on a daily and seasonal basis. The temperature is usually lower at night and January is the coldest time of the year. The vale is in the rain shadow of the Pennines so has a lower rainfall total than areas to the west. It is also subject to more fog and frosts in winter than other areas because of the tendency of cold air to drain into the vale from surrounding higher ground.


Beneath the drift deposits of the vale of York lie Triassic sandstone and mudstone, and lower Jurassic mudstone but these are completely masked by the surface deposits. These deposits include glacial till, sand and gravel and both terminal and recessional moraines left by receding ice sheets at the end of the last ice age. The Escrick moraine extends across the vale from west to east and the York moraine, 8 miles further north, forms a similar curving ridge from York eastwards to Sand Hutton. To the north of these ridges are deposits of clay, sand and gravel left by a glacial lake. There are also areas of river alluvium consisting of clay, silt and sand deposited by the main rivers and streams.[1]

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