Dan Hobson

Discover one of Yorkshire’s most loved dales — Nidderdale Way

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Discover one of Yorkshire’s most loved dales — Nidderdale Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson



24:20 h

54.5 mi

5,125 ft

The Nidderdale Way is a circular route around one of Yorkshire’s most treasured dales that explores some of the county’s most famous sights and impressive natural wonders.

The 53-mile (85 kilometer) route starts in the pretty market town of Pateley Bridge and follows the River Nidd up the valley to Scar House Reservoir before looping back down through the dale and Ripley to finish where it began.

Whilst the route is relatively short and easygoing, it is packed with interest. Prized sights include: How Stean Gorge, a limestone ravine carved out by thousands of years of waterflow; Brimham Rocks, impressive rock formations created by an enormous river 350 million years ago; the 14th-century Ripley Castle; and the 18th-century Prosperous lead mine ruins.

There is plenty of wildlife along the way, too. More than 200 species of bird have been recorded around the shores of Gouthwaite Reservoir, for example, including kingfishers, buzzards, and even golden eagles.

Compared with many long-distance hikes, the Nidderdale Way is an easy undertaking. Aside from a few upland sections, the route keeps chiefly to the lowland banks of the River Nidd and dalesides. Paths are well-signposted and well-maintained and civilization is never too far away.

This Collection begins and ends in Pateley Bridge—the official start/finish—as it has the best transport links and accommodation options. The reason for anticlockwise direction is that Brimham Rocks, with its mesmerizing rock formations and sublime views, makes for an epic finish.

As the route is a circuit, though, the choice of where to start and finish, as well as what direction to walk it, is entirely up to you.

In this Collection, we split the route into four stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.

Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.

If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Harrogate, which has direct trains from Leeds, York, and London, among others, and connecting services around Britain. From Harrogate, you can catch the 24 bus service to Pateley Bridge.

If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Pateley Bridge and leave your car there for the duration.

For more information about the Nidderdale Way, visit: nidderdale.co.uk/nidderdale-way.
For the 24 bus timetable, visit: getdown.org.uk/bus/bus/24-h.shtml.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    15.0 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The first stage provides a wonderful introduction to the rich scenery on the Nidderdale Way.Starting from the pretty market town of Pateley Bridge, the trail meanders through a pastoral landscape until the Upper Nidderdale landscape reveals itself.As you hike around Gouthwaite Reservoir, keep a look-out for birds. More than 200 species have been recorded around its shores, including oystercatchers, kingfishers, green woodpeckers, buzzards, and even golden eagles.The trail reaches a high point shortly after Scar House Reservoir—which boasted the largest dam in Britain when it was finished in 1936—and then descends through farmland to the village Middlesmoor, where this stage finishes.Middlesmoor has a couple of options for accommodation and food and drink.

  • Intermediate
    11.0 mi
    2.2 mph
    850 ft
    1,300 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    With much to see and a shorter distance to contend with, you have time to explore on this spellbinding stage.From Middlesmoor, the trail drops straight into How Stean Gorge, one of Nidderdale’s natural wonders. Carved out by thousands of years by waterflow, the dramatic limestone ravine is up to 30 feet (nine meters) deep in places. The trail passes through farmland—the River Nidd revealing itself occasionally—to Ramsgill, which is hailed as one of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire.You continue along the western shores of Gouthwaite Reservoir and then rise gradually through farmland.When you reach the summit of Pinnacle Hill, you find the remains of a late 18th and 19th century lead mining and processing plant, the Prosperous and Providence lead mines.This stage finishes in Bewerley, where you will find limited accommodation options. Bridgehouse Gate, less than half-a-mile away, has more choice.

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  • Difficult
    13.4 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,375 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This contrasting stage takes you high onto cliff-edges for breathtaking views before dropping into the dale for a gentle riverside walk.From Bewerley, it is a sharp climb through fields and small woodlands to Yorke's Folly. Positioned high above Bewerley, the folly was commissioned by landowners the Yorke family to provide employment for miners hit by recession in the late 18th century.A short time later, the trail winds around Guise Cliff, which dominates the skyline above the village of Glasshouses. From the top, you are afforded enchanting views.You then descend gradually through farmland to Summerbridge, where you pick-up the course of the River Nidd and follow to Hampsthwaite. You cross the river at Hampsthwaite and continue to Ripley, where this stage finishes.
    Shortly before the route ends, you pass Ripley Castle, a 14th-century country house set within beautiful gardens and parkland.
    You will find a few accommodation options in Ripley and plenty of choices for food and drink.

  • Difficult
    15.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,175 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage finishes on a high with the awe-inspiring Brimham Rocks and a delightful descent into Pateley Bridge.From Ripley, the trail rises gradually through undulating countryside to Shaw Mills, home to a succession of flax, silk, and corn mills from the 16th century onwards.The Way then meanders through the patchwork landscape, climbing gradually to the outskirts of Brimham Moor, where you find one of Nidderdale’s most celebrated natural wonders. Brimham Rocks were created by an enormous river some 350 million years ago. They have since been shaped by millions of years of weathering to create mesmerizing rock formations. You get lovely views here, too.You then descend via the leisurely Panorama Walk into Pateley Bridge and the views keep coming thick-and-fast.Right before the end of the hike, you pass St Mary’s Church, a pretty 13th-century ruin hidden in trees overlooking Nidderdale.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    54.5 mi
  • Duration
    24:20 h
  • Elevation
    5,125 ft
Dan Hobson

Discover one of Yorkshire’s most loved dales — Nidderdale Way