Walk: Pastures and panoramas at Brimham Rocks

editorial image

This walk takes you through pastures in Nidderdale with beautiful panoramic views across the dale.

From the car park, follow the main track towards the visitor centre. Facing the visitor centre, take the tarmac road to the left and take the path around and behind the visitor centre heading towards the rock formation known as the Dancing Bear. Keep following this path with the Dancing Bear on your right. After 100m or so, forward and to your left you’ll see the rock formation known as the Druids’ Writing Desk, and then to your right, a few metres off the path, the Idol with its extraordinary balancing act. Shortly after passing the Idol be sure to stop and look to the left for the beautiful panoramic views across Upper Nidderdale. As the path reaches open moor land, (SE 2075 6531 / 54.0832 -1.6843) bear left following the path down into a gulley. Follow the gulley path down to a farm track and turn left.

Follow the farm track, and when you get to gate straight ahead pass through it then 50 m or so further on at a second gate take the footpath to the right across a pasture. Over the stile, turn left and continue for about 60 m to another stile on the left – just before the track bends around to the right. Over this stile and cross the pasture diagonally to the stile and wall ladder. Walk along the edge of the next pasture keeping the wall on your left. Cross into the next large pasture over a stile and follow the fence line, keeping the fence on your right. Geology note: Whereas until now the rock beneath our feet has been sandstone, we’re now walking over limestone, and you’ll find evidence of it as greyish rock and stones here and there where it reaches the surface. Go over the next stile and follow the rutted path across two more pastures still with the fence on your right. At the bottom of the hill cross Fell Beck using the bridge.

As you cross Fell Beck stop on the bridge and look back upstream to see the disused mill race. Follow the track slightly to the right and uphill, and in less than 100m turn left at the millstone and go over the cattle grid. Shortly after this, leave the track bearing right and follow the yellow way markers across the pasture. Climb uphill and through the gap in the wall, crossing the next pasture and keeping the wall on your left. Go through the gate and over the stile following the path to the left hand end of a small row of terraced houses. Once past the houses turn left along the bridleway towards Wilsill until you reach a cross roads of tracks.

At the crossroads go straight across and follow the footpath sign for ‘The Raikes’ which takes you through the gate and past a bench. Follow the path with the wall on your left and the Raikes rising above you to the right. Bear right when the path joins the farm track and in 200m or so you could stop for a break at the bench. Why not sit here for a rest and enjoy panoramic views to Menwith Hill, Knabbs Edge Wind farm and Guiscliffe. As you continue your walk with the wall on your left, look out for the bee hives under the shade of silver birch. You will pass alongside Nidderdale Llamas - check our website for dates when the llamas will next be trekking at Brimham Rocks.

Upon reaching the road turn left, after about 200m turn left along a narrow way marked footpath just to the left of a private driveway. Go over the stile and keep to your right through the next two pastures. Continue across the next field and climb the wall onto and over the stone steps, just before the next gate. Continue across the next two fields passing through first a metal and then a wooden gate. (SE 1864 6475 / 54.0783,-1.7165) Turn right and follow the track close past a house on your right and continue downhill to reach the road, then turn left.

A short way long the road and just past a field gate take the public footpath forking to the right signed ‘Low Laithe’. After about 200m climb the steps over the wall on your right. Cross the field to the main road heading for the bus stops that can be seen. Cross the road, then cross the meadow to the River Nidd. Turn left, continuing along the footpath with the river on your right. Look out for flashes of blue as kingfisher fly past, and brown trout in the river. Leave the river where a beck joins it, then cross the footbridge over the beck and take the path up to the main road.

Cross the road and follow the tarmac road called Low Laithe. In about 100m turn right towards Knox Hall. Follow the path along the side of the Hall, past a garage and along the edge of some woodland. When emerging from the wood turn left onto Old Coach Road. Look out for alpacas and goats in the fields to the right. Continue uphill, and on reaching a road turn left and then after 50m or so on the right you’ll see a public bridleway signed ‘Brimham’.

Walk up the bridleway and after about 200m at the tiny cottage “Artists’ Retreat” turn right, continuing to follow the footpath signed ‘Brimham’. In about 450m (at SE 2008 6423 / 54.0736 -1.694) turn left into the field and follow the wall to your right. Over the next stile head straight across the field to a stile in a wire fence. Once over that stile go forward and to the left about 25 paces, heading for the corner of the fenc-ing, and a few yards to the right of the corner there are rough stepping stones over a small stream with stone steps up the bank. Then immediately cross the next small stream then follow the path keeping the wall to your left, passing a large pond with bul-rushes and dragonflies in summer. Go over the stile still keeping the wall to your left and head for the gate. Once through the gate, turn immediately left over another stile. Walk diagonally across the field, pass-ing a green barn, to a gate with a faint white arrow. Cross the track then go through the gate and follow the right hand of the two way markers across the field to the far gate. Go through the gate and turn right up the track. Continue through the green gate and up the track. Note the stones on the path, quite a few of them are limestone which for a short way we’re walking on again.

After passing the farmhouse on your right, turn left on the unmarked path and continue through the silver birch trees back into Brimham Rocks. Continue onwards and upwards between the large rock outcrops and head to the left to-wards the visitor centre. Reward yourself at the refreshment kiosk (we recommend hot chocolate!) before returning down one of the many paths through the rocks to the car park.