Coastliner Way starts in Leeds which lies at the northern end of the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire Coalfield (NCA 38). Here deposits of coal and iron, along with adequate supplies of water, brought mass industrialisation and urban blight to the area. Nevertheless, at Temple Newsam, valuable open green areas can be found on land that has been reclaimed from opencast coal mining.
The Southern Magnesian Limestone (NCA 30) – a separate NCA from the Durham Magnesian Limestone NCA – is a long, thin zone that stretches from the Thornborough henges in the north to the outskirts of Nottingham further south. On the Coastliner Way it is encountered briefly between Bramham and Tadcaster. The limestone ridge forms a noticeable landscape feature and carries the A1(M) Motorway. The geology has influenced many aspects of the landscape, from use of its limestone resource as a local building material to the specialised grasslands associated with limestone areas.
By contrast, the Vale of York (NCA 28) is an area of relatively flat, low-lying land where high-quality soils found across most of the region mean that arable cultivation is generally the predominant land use. A recurrent problem is the frequency of river flooding, especially in the City of York where the rivers that drain surrounding higher land concentrate their flood loads.
The Howardian Hills (NCA 29) is a clearly defined belt of irregular, rounded ridges of Jurassic Age rocks with intervening sheltered valleys. In a relatively small area, there is a diverse landscape of woodlands, historic buildings, designed parkland and villages, and rolling arable land on ridges and open plateaux. The Castle Howard Estate is a delightful amalgamation of natural beauty and human creativity. Three-quarters of the NCA lies within the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The Vale of Pickering (NCA 26) is a low-lying basin of exceptional archaeological and environmental importance and is recognised by English Heritage as being of international significance for the completeness of its record of human habitation. Recent excavations at Star Carr have revealed this site to have been of even greater significance than previously thought. The area’s main river, the River Derwent, is recognised as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The North Yorkshire Moors and Cleveland Hills (NCA 25) also includes the Tabular Hills. Some 85 per cent of the total NCA falls within the North York Moors National Park. It is a region of considerable variation with magnificent moorland as well as superb coastal cliff scenery. Heather moorland is a globally rare ecosystem and Britain is thought to have almost 75% of what remains in the world. The NCA contains its own ‘Dinosaur Coast’ which has yielded internationally important fossil remains.
The Yorkshire Wolds (NCA 27) forms an arc of gently rolling chalk hill country, with numerous, secretive, dry valleys, curving round from the Humber Estuary to the North Sea at Flamborough Head. Parts of the coastal area (Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs) are designated as being of European importance as a Special Protection Area for birds. Flamborough Head is also recognised as a Special Area of Conservation on account of its chalk cliff grassland habitats. A prominent chalk escarpment rises steeply from the Vales of York and Pickering and falls away to the plain of Holderness in the east. Majority of the land is agricultural with woodland being restricted to small, scattered blocks on higher land and steeper slopes. Bridlington actually lies just within Holderness (NCA 40). In 2015 the Yorkshire Wolds became the first of the English and Welsh National Trails to be made entirely stile-free. A total of 120 stiles have been removed since 1996 and replaced by gates or gaps. The Trail just pipped the Thames Path, whose last stile was due to be removed later in 2015.