New exhibition reveals hidden side of Brimham Rocks

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Dedicated walkers, scientists and climbers are among the quarter of a million visitors who flock to the famous natural landscape of Brimham Rocks every year.

But for many who grew up in Yorkshire, the appeal of this fascinating collection of 320-million-year-old rocks near Pateley Bridge is about something far simpler.

It is a place for adventurers of all ages to explore and it evokes, for many, happy memories of childhood summers.

With a little imagination, visitors can see just how it was that around 60 of the rock formations earned names such as the Dancing Bear, Eagle, the Idol and Druid’s Writing Desk.

There’s the chance as well as to experience the amazing Rocking Stones – massive stone structures that move when pushed by the daring.

Now a new photographic exhibition is turning the focus onto some of the lesser-explored corners of the 400-acre National Trust site.

Opening today, The Gems of Brimham brings together a collection of dozens of images taken by members of the Brimham Photographic Society.

Visitor experience assistant Jaanika Reinvald said: “What really stands out is that the photographic society comes here monthly. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Many of the best photographs come from the worst weather.

“It could be chucking it down or really misty. It looks like you couldn’t get the best shots, but that’s when you get some of the most atmospheric ones.”

The result is an exhibition which charts Brimham through the seasons, curated by some of its most enthusiastic visitors.

“The photographers have put together some images of both well-known, iconic parts of the site and also some of the lesser-known or hidden gems of Brimham,” said Jaanika.

“Many of these are not immediately obvious but can easily be found by taking a short walk off the well-worn paths, down into the woods or behind the rocks.”

During the six-week exhibition, visitors who find themselves inspired to pick up their own cameras can submit their photographs for the My Brimham competition.

The best 50 images will then be chosen by members of the photographic society for a follow-up exhibition, which is to be held at the Brimham Rocks Visitor Centre in October.

Jaanika said: “What we’re really hoping to see is their relationship to Brimham. What do they do here? What do they really like about it?

“We know we get a lot of families and it’s seen as a great family day out, but we don’t have much photographic evidence of it. Other people come here for a tranquil walk and mindfulness, and it would be really great to see a story from the picture they send in.”

The sprawling site’s varied and natural landscape is about more than the rock formations themselves, with a diverse mix of moorland and woodland awaiting visitors.

Part of the Way of the Roses coast-to-coast cycle route and the 53-mile circular Nidderdale Way walk, it is also one of just over 4,000 sites nationally to be named a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England.

There is plenty to inspire budding photographers as well as the enthusiasts who have contributed to The Gems of Brimham, which is being staged to coincide with this year’s NiddArt Trail.

Although the free trail draws to a close on Bank Holiday Monday, the exhibition at Brimham will remain open until the end of September.

The NiddArt Trail combines the stunning scenery of Nidderdale and its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a celebration of local art and crafts. It is a listing of artists, artisans, photographers, workshops, galleries, shops and clubs who show or demonstrate their work in a range of media. Run by a small group of volunteers, the trail is free to participants and visitors thanks to contributions from charities and businesses.

The NiddArt Trail opens today and runs until Monday, August 28. It can be followed on foot, bike, car or bus. A brochure with map can be found in local libraries, tourist offices, participating venues, many shops and online.