Last Updated on 16/04/2022
Nidderdale has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK. This charming region is the ideal place to escape and unwind. Here is your guide to the best things to do in Nidderdale on your visit.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about visiting Nidderdale AONB, the best places to stay plus the top things to do in Nidderdale on your visit.
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Things to do in Nidderdale AONB
Nidderdale is a beautiful part of Yorkshire just waiting to be discovered. Sitting at the heart of North Yorkshire, nestled beside the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this charming area is not one to overlook!
The picturesque villages and striking natural beauty of Nidderdale will steal your heart, but the region is also packed with fascinating attractions you must explore! Here is your guide to the best things to do in Nidderdale on your next visit.
About Nidderdale AONB
Before we delve into the best things to do in Nidderdale, here is a quick introduction to the Nidderdale region.
Where is Nidderdale?
Nidderdale is a 233 square mile region in North Yorkshire. It is located to the north of Leeds and west of Harrogate and Ripon.
Why visit Nidderdale?
Nidderdale is a region renowned for its natural beauty. It is best known for its sweeping green countryside and rugged moorland.
The Nidderdale region is the ideal place to escape to a slower pace of life. It is the perfect destination for hikers, walkers or simply those who want a quiet getaway with spectacular views.
There is a wonderful variety of sights and attractions in Nidderdale that make it an enjoyable escape for visitors of all ages. From families to solo travellers and couples young and old, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Nidderdale!
What is an AONB?
The Nidderdale region is considered an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB). This means it is an area designated for conservation with the goal to preserve the natural beauty and national importance of the area.
Because of this, much of Nidderdale remains untouched. You will find miles of rolling fields and many striking natural sites that have been protected from human interaction.
Although known as Nidderdale AONB, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty expands beyond the Nidderdale region to include some surrounding dales including part of lower Wharfedale, the Washburn Valley and part of lower Wensleydale.
Is Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales?
Technically, Nidderdale is one of the 40+ dales that makes up the region of the Yorkshire Dales. However, Nidderdale lies outside the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Nidderdale sits on the south-eastern border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As Nidderdale neighbours the Yorkshire Dales National Park, you can easily visit parts of both regions on your trip.
What should I pack when visiting Nidderdale?
If you are planning a trip to Nidderdale and hope to explore the beautiful countryside, make sure you pack your hiking essentials – get the full list here.
No matter what you plan to do when you visit Nidderdale, there are three essentials I recommend you pack for any trip to the region.
You need an excellent quality pair of hiking boots. Whether you’re hiking or not, many of the natural sights have uneven floors or terrain which is best tackled with a good pair of boots. These ones are my personal favourites.
Thanks to the unpredictable nature of Yorkshire weather, a foldable waterproof jacket will be your best friend! I love this one as it folds away compactly so I can store it in my rucksack. Then I always have it on hand in case of a surprise shower!
The remote nature of Nidderdale can make it difficult to receive a phone or GPS signal throughout the region. I recommend packing this Nidderdale OS map for your visit. It is important to have on hand in case of emergencies!
The Best Things to do in Nidderdale
If you are planning a visit to Nidderdale, these are the attractions you don’t want to miss! Here are the best things to do in Nidderdale on your visit.
Brimham Rocks is Nidderdale’s best known attraction. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that is maintained by the National Trust and is just four miles from the village of Pateley Bridge.
The site is a collection of natural rock formations that were formed over 325 million years ago. Brimham Rocks is a popular attraction for people who want to admire the rock formations on a stroll through the grounds.
Visitors can also scramble up the rocks and admire some of the incredible views. It is also a popular sport for climbers to practice their skills.
Address: Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate, HG3 4DW
Pateley Bridge is a charming market town right at the heart of Nidderdale. In fact, it is the only town in Nidderdale!
This pretty town has many sights for visitors to admire, including the oldest sweet shop in the world, beautiful recreational grounds, and picturesque riverside walks.
Because of its central location, Pateley Bridge is an ideal place to use as a home base for your visit to Nidderdale. So, if you’re looking for places to stay in Nidderdale, click here to discover the best accommodation in Pateley Bridge.
Address: South Car Park, Pateley Bridge, Harrogate, HG3 5BD
The Coldstones Cut
If you love to discover unique attractions that are off the beaten track, The Coldstones Cut is for you. It boasts being the biggest and highest piece of public artwork in Yorkshire at 1,375 feet above sea level.
It was created by the artist Andrew Sabin, and first opened to the public in September 2010 after a 3-year creative and development process.
The Coldstones Cut is the perfect place to admire sweeping views of the beautiful Nidderdale countryside. Also, you get a glimpse of the neighbouring working quarry that is intelligently disguised from view!
Address: Bewerley, Harrogate HG3 5BJ
If you are looking for unusual things to do in Nidderdale, a visit to Nidderdale Llamas is an unforgettable experience!
The Nidderdale countryside is some of the most beautiful in the UK. And Nidderdale Llamas gives you the opportunity to explore it with a furry friend by your side!
Join a llama trek or alpaca walk to get to know these gentle creatures first hand. Learn more about them as you handle them on a beautiful half day or full day walk. Family and accessible experiences are also available.
You need to book your Nidderdale Llamas experience in advance. Click here to book.
Address: Kiln Farm, Wilsill, Harrogate, HG3 5EE
When you come across a site part owned by both English Heritage and National Trust, which is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ve hit the perfect trifecta of national gems. And that’s exactly what Fountains Abbey is.
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best-preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. On the site you can explore both the abbey ruins, plus the neighbouring Georgian water garden of Studley Royal.
A trip to Fountains Abbey is a full day experience to take in everything across this sprawling site.
Address: Fountains, Ripon, HG4 3DY
Birchfield Ice Cream Farm
When visiting Nidderdale on a beautiful, summer day, a visit to Birchfield Ice Cream Farm is the ideal way to cool off. This picturesque working farm gives you a glimpse of how their delicious ice creams are made.
Birchfield Ice Cream Farm is home to a herd of Jersey cows who produce the milk and cream used in making Birchfield ice cream. You will also see other animals including pigs and sheep at the farm.
There are several events at Birchfield Ice Cream throughout the year from an Easter Eggstravaganza to a Maize Maze and Pumpkin Festival.
But no matter what time of year you visit, be sure to visit the ice cream parlour to taste the delicious ice cream. Right on the farm where it was made!
Address: Oakmount House, Birchfield Farm, Summerbridge, Harrogate, HG3 4JS
How Stean Gorge
How Stean Gorge is the go-to destination for those looking for an adventure! It is the home of outdoor adventure and activities in Nidderdale.
If you want to try something adrenaline-fuelled on your break, How Stean Gorge is the place to be! Experience canoeing, canyoning, caving and rock climbing plus much more!
The dramatic landscape of the gorge makes it the ideal setting for a slice of adventure, whether you’re just walking the gorge paths or indulging in something a little more exhilarating.
You can choose from half day, full day, or even multi-day experiences. Click here to find out more.
Address: Lofthouse, Harrogate, HG3 5SF
Stump Cross Caverns
You might think that that Nidderdale looks beautiful from the surface, but just wait until you see it from below!
Stump Cross Caverns gives you a unique opportunity to venture beneath the Nidderdale landscape into an ancient network of caverns.
The caverns were first discovered in 1860 by lead miners. Over the years, many new passageways have been opened up, which you can explore today.
Stump Cross Caverns is a fun activity that doesn’t require any specialist caving skills. You can simply descend into the caverns via the steps and follow the footpaths to discover the realm beneath Nidderdale.
Make sure you wear sturdy shoes and wrap up warm. The footpaths are uneven, and the cave is only seven degrees Celsius year-round! Your underground tour will last approximately 40-50 minutes.
Address: B6265, Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge, HG3 5JL
The Druid’s Temple is a unique folly in Nidderdale. It consists of a series of stone formations and archways set in a circular layout.
Although The Druid’s Temple clearly takes inspiration from Druidism and other stone circles such as Stonehenge, it is unlikely it was built for any religious purposes. Instead, it was built as a folly and a means of alleviating some of the local unemployment.
It is believed that William Danby commissioned The Druid’s Temple in the early 1800s. He was the owner of the Swinton Estate and Swinton Park at the time.
Although it wasn’t built for religious purposes, it was constructed during a time of significant interest in Druidism during the early Romantic period. It is even rumoured that Danby hired a hermit to live at the ruin for several years!
Address: Knowle Lane, Ripon, HG4 4JZ
Nidderdale Show is one of the county’s foremost agricultural shows. It takes place in late September and traditionally marks the end of the agricultural show season. Annually, it attracts over 15,000 visitors!
The show includes classes where local farmers showcase their livestock, crops, horses, and dogs. There are also classes where entrants can submit their best horticulture, handicrafts, and home produce to be judged too. You will also discover marquees dedicated to crafts, heritage, trade stands and more.
Address: Bewerley Park, Bewerley, Harrogate HG3 5JB
Hackfall is a woodland Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It was significantly landscaped during the 17th century and described as “one of the most beautiful woods in the country.” For a period, it was left unattended and was a victim of vandalism until the Woodland Trust purchased it in 1989.
Since the purchase, Woodland Trust in partnership with Hackfall Trust and the Landmark Trust have been working hard to restore Hackfall to its former glory. They have had help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, who donated almost £1million for restoration work in 2007.
Today, Hackfall Woods is once again a stunning destination, eagerly welcoming visitors and it has a few surprises in store!
Discover hidden waterfalls and forgotten follies in this magical woodland. Click here to discover the best things to do at Hackfall Woods.
Address: Hackfall Woods Car Park, Grewelthorpe, Ripon, HG4 3BS
C stands at the northern tip of Nidderdale. It is an enchanting structure, left in ruins after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century.
Today, this tranquil spot is a beautiful oasis. It flourishes with trees and wildflowers amongst the nooks and crannies of the abbey. It remains a location of peace and tranquillity still, long after the monks have departed.
Jervaulx Abbey is privately owned. You can visit from dusk until dawn each day and there is an honesty box where you can contribute to the upkeep of the abbey. There is also a tearoom on the site.
Address: Park House, Jervaulx, Ripon, HG4 4PH
Founded in 1975, Nidderdale Museum is a local and social history museum in Pateley Bridge. It was founded by a local group who had a mission to preserve the traditional ways of life that were at risk of being lost forever following the Second World War.
The museum has displays dedicated to bygone eras including a cobbler’s shop, mining tunnel, Victorian schoolroom and parlour, plus much more.
Nidderdale Museum is a fun and educational place to visit and learn more about the history of the Nidderdale area.
Address: The Old Workhouse, King St, Pateley Bridge, Harrogate, HG3 5LE
Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park
Between the months of April and October, you can experience a taste of the Himalayas, right here in Yorkshire!
The Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park is one of Nidderdale’s best hidden gems! Your visit will take you on a stroll through beautifully sculpted gardens full of colourful blooms, acres of peaceful woodland and striking sculptures.
As well as the stunning gardens and sculptures, there are several charming structures throughout the garden including a picturesque, thatched summerhouse, colourful pagoda, and an impressive Himalayan shelter.
The Himalayan Garden is the perfect place to get a unique perspective on the beautiful Nidderdale countryside.
Address: Hutts Lane, Ripon, HG4 3DA
Places to stay in Nidderdale
If you’re looking for unique places to stay in Nidderdale for an unforgettable trip, The Ruin in Grewelthorpe is ideal.
The Ruin is a Georgian folly perched on a terrace overlooking Hackfall Woods. The structure is all that remains of a building that once had three dramatic arches and a domed roof sweeping overhead. By the time it was acquired by the charity The Landmark Trust, it was little more than a ruin!
The Ruin is the best accommodation for a luxury escape.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for budget and affordable accommodation in Nidderdale, there are lots of options available throughout the region.
Here are the best places to stay in Nidderdale on your visit.
The Best Things to do in Nidderdale
So, these are the best things to do in Nidderdale that you don’t want to miss! Which one are you most excited to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
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Until our next adventure,