Paula Newson Smith is currently Chair of the Trustees at Nidderdale Plus, an independent charity that operates the community hub in Pateley Bridge. The charity aims to maintain, improve and develop local services and improve access to existing and new community services.
I have very early memories of visiting the Nidderdale area as a child – the places that stand out are Fountains Abbey, Brimham Rocks and Ramsgill, as well as Pateley Bridge. I think many Yorkshire people will have photos taken with their Grandma on a visit to Brimham! I’ve been a regular visitor to the area and, having worked for Harrogate Borough Council for many years, became very familiar with the District. I have been lucky enough to live in Bewerley village since 2011.
My favourite places still include Fountains Abbey, which is a fantastic place to visit and, being local, I can go when it’s quieter during the week and enjoy the interesting walks with my dog. It’s a special place that never fails to delight. The drive back to Pateley Bridge from Fountains has to be one of the best in the whole area, the views are wonderful and the light is amazing, I’m always surprised how it varies with the seasons.
Another favourite is Fishpond Wood in Bewerley, which is different every time I go there. With a variety of walks and views around the lake it is always an enjoyable. Recently the concert by the Hameed Brothers in the woods was a calm and relaxing experience on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon.
In Pateley Bridge, I often call in to see the glassblowers at work in their King Street Studio Workshops in Pateley Bridge - always a friendly welcome from Andy and David and it’s great to watch them producing their beautiful glasswork. More recently I usually drop in to see Fiona in her ceramic workshop, I love her work. I had a few weddings to go to over the last few years and who needs to go further to buy a unique wedding present? Our close family have a set of 14 wine glasses proudly displayed on backlit shelves in their kitchen and my god-daughter was delighted with a set of ceramic hearts.
The Coldstones Cut is an unmissable attraction in the area, it’s a great walk and the views from the top are well worth the climb. The North platform has a compass with distances to places all over the world, it never fails to fascinate me whenever I go. If you visit during the week, you can watch the quarry at work too. Any visit to Coldstones usually ends with a visit to Toft Gate Barn for coffee and cake!
There’s often interesting things going on too – my favourites are the annual Nidderdale Show held in September and the Nidd Art trail, where I usually go around August Bank Holiday. I also like the walks around the Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs. There’s so much choice here, it seems a bit unfair to highlight favourites, so maybe I’ll just say the whole area.