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Green Travel Guide to Nidderdale
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Words by Jane Dunford.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.

Foreword by Leanne Fox, Information Officer for the Nidderdale AONB

Nidderdale’s landscape is varied and full of contrasts. The uplands to the west contain some of the most famous grouse moors in the country, where walkers, horseriders and cyclists can enjoy an exhilarating feeling that only comes from wide open spaces and gradually unfolding horizons.


The landscape broadens and flattens to the east, giving way to a softer more pastoral landscape with historic parks and gardens and great country houses such as Hackfall, Swinton Castle and Fountains Abbey. They sit cheek by jowl with fascinating remains of mines and quarries from the Roman period to the 19th century, alongside massive stone dams, reservoirs and spillways constructed by the water industry in the nineteenth century.

There are endless opportunities for enjoying Nidderdale’s landscape on foot, while opportunities for mountain biking are some of the best. Established attractions provide opportunities for cave exploration, rock climbing and scrambling, and Nidderdale’s Via Ferrata is attracting record numbers! Walking with Llamas, and visits to family-friendly farms with nature trails are also on offer, and there are plenty of places to stay too, from B&B’s that offer a traditional Yorkshire welcome, to eco-friendly timber lodges, camp sites and some of the best country house hotels in the region.

Great food is available everywhere as well, at traditional cafés, shops selling local food and Michelin-starred restaurants. Although proud to be part of the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale has a character all of its own!

What our writer discovered in Nidderdale

Bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a 233-square mile region of dramatic contrasts, with the River Nidd slicing across from the fells in the west to the rolling fields of the south-east. With landscape varying from remote heather moorland to soft undulating hills, farmland and picturesque market towns, this is a haven for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Adventure seekers can indulge in activities including caving and rock-climbing, while those looking for a more relaxed visit can explore some of the area’s historic parks, gardens and country houses.

Stay, Eat, See & Do

Our pick of places across Nidderdale

Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions

Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map

  • Fountains Abbey is the largest monastic ruin in Britain, and the National Trust’s most visited attraction

  • Over a third of the AONB is heather moorland, and most is designated ‘Open Access’ for walkers

  • Scotgate Ash Quarry, above Pateley Bridge, supplied the stone used to make the steps of the National Gallery in London

  • The Eagle, Dancing Bear and Writing Desk are some of the names given to the strange-looking weathered sandstone tors at Brimham Rocks

  • Nidderdale boasts the oldest sweet shop in the country

  • Bantam, the world's first instant coffee, came from Nidderdale

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