This describes the main features of the climate of NE England, the area east of the Pennine watershed from the Scottish border southwards to South Yorkshire. It comprises the counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham, North, West and South Yorkshire and the unitary authorities in the former county of Cleveland.
The topography of the northern half of the area is characterised by generally west to east sloping land, crossed by a number of eastwards-draining rivers including the Tyne, Wear and Tees. Further south, the River Ouse crosses the Vale of York, with tributaries such as the Wharfe, Aire, Nidd and Don. These all have their sources in the Pennines, a chain of rolling gritstone moors rising to well over 600 metres and reaching their highest point at Cross Fell (893 metres). The Pennines form a natural barrier to east-west communications, but there are the Tyne gap linking Carlisle and Newcastle and the Aire gap linking Lancashire and Yorkshire. The other significant area of high ground is the North York Moors, rising to over 400 metres.
The major population and industrial centres tend to be associated with the rivers and include Sheffield and Leeds in industrial South and West Yorkshire, Middlesbrough on Tees-side, Sunderland at the mouth of the Wear and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
In contrast, the Vale of York is a farming area with cereals and the Yorkshire Dales are important for sheep farming. The Dales, North York Moors and cities such as York and Durham are also important for tourism.
The area's western and eastern boundaries are the main influence on its climate. The high altitude of the Pennines creates an environment that is frequently cool, dull and wet, but the Pennines also cast a 'rain shadow' across the area through the shelter they afford from the prevailing westerly winds. The North Sea exerts a moderating control on coastal districts where, especially, it can keep summer conditions relatively cool.