The Vale of Pickering is in North Yorkshire and is characterised by its unique topography and landscapes. The boundaries are well-defined as it is encompassed by the North York Moors (North), Filey coast (East), Yorkshire Wolds (South) and the Hambleton and Howardian Hills (West). The River Derwent counter-intuitively flows inland through the Vale of Pickering before joining the Ouse. This river, along with its tributaries has been modified to help cope with the drainage needs of the area, as it is the main drainage basin for the surrounding areas. The east and west zones of the Vale of Pickering are very different with the east being characterized by peaty soils and canalised drainage courses and the west with more complex and sinuous water courses. Today the flat area is heavily utilized as open pastures and intensive arable production.
The underlying geology of the area was formed during the Jurassic period (195-140 mya), which is mostly sandstones and mudstones. The Cretaceous (142-65 mya) is represented by Lower Cretaceous Speeton Clay, of which Red Chalk overlies. During the Pleistocene (2.5mya) the area was glaciated with the ice advancing and retreating repeatedly across the area, which shaped the valley and left drift deposits and moraines in its wake.
During the Mesolithic the climate improved and the area became a wetland with various vegetation colonising. Lake Flixton was formed and early humans settled. During this time the area was extensive wetlands but over the years and the advancement of intensive agriculture, the area was drained transformed into the area what we see today.
Read more about the Vale of Pickering in the Statement of Significance page on this site and on The Landscape Research Centre’s website and blog. There are also useful articles on this piece of work on the North Yorkshire County Council website, where the full document pdf can be accessed http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/article/26447/Multi-disciplinary-landscape-scale-research
I can recommend a highly readable summary document, ‘The Vale of Pickering an Extraordinary Place: Statement of Significance’ which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below: