Posted on Thursday, December 7, 2017
When we talk about Yorkshire - and in particular the landscape that blankets it - we can't help using phrases like, "spoilt for choice", or "an embarrassment of riches". Think of it this way: Out of the 15 National Parks that are protected areas in Britain, 3 can be found in Yorkshire (arguably we could be greedy to include the Peaks - but just ask a cartographer: their lines don't lie). That's more than can be found in Scotland, and matches the amount found in Wales. But looking beyond the headline acts of the Dales and the North York Moors, we want to focus this piece on Nidderdale, on the eastern shoulder of the Dales, and a certified Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
What makes Nidderdale special is both the geographical mix of dales and moors, but also the communities that fill it. The only town in Nidderdale is Pateley Bridge, 14 miles North West from Harrogate. As well as being the stand-alone town, it's a stand-out town too. Heavily garlanded (and that's before you notice the bunting), Pateley Bridge has recently been rated by The Sunday Times as one of their best places to live in Yorkshire. This rating was gleaned from factors varying from jobs, exam results and broadband speed - to culture, community spirit and local shops. But if one national endorsement isn't enough for you, take notice that the High Street was an award winner in The Great British High Street Awards 2016. Pateley Bridge is singlehandedly putting Nidderdale on the map.
But when you cast your net to take in the hills and valleys beyond Pateley Bridge, you find villages that are just as picturesque and offer similar connections to the larger towns in North Yorkshire. Following the Nidd along its course, towards Knaresborough, you'd pass through Bewerley, Glasshouses and Summerbridge. These villages, as well as the quiet communities in Dacre and Darley are quintessential capsules of Yorkshire, with their traditional stone cottages and meandering routes that join each other. Nidderdale and tranquility are soon becoming synonymous.
Let's take a moment to focus on that name. Nidderdale. How does the dale hold more beauty than its name offers? Whilst that syllable, 'nidd', might not immediately suggest beauty, it does offer brilliance ('nidd' - or 'nydd', you traditionalists you - was a Celtic word for 'brilliant'). But we shouldn't get too hooked up on names, especially in Yorkshire. Afterall, you know what they say about people in Glasshouses. That said, we should certainly concentrate on stones, as Niddledale is strewn with mighty rock formations.
Here's a quick guide to Nidderdale - an area etched in stone:
- Brimham Rocks (Millstone grit)
This 400 acre National Trust site is a beaut for all the family. Rocks balance and burst from the moorside, and the views of Nidderdale are spectacular.
- How Stean Gorge (Limestone)
Whilst Brimham Rocks offers a playground for the world and their dog to enjoy, this 80ft ravine - dubbed 'Little Switzerland' - should be reserved for those slightly more brave. There are plenty of walking routes to enjoy, but its landscape is perfect for rock- climbing and caving thrillseekers.
- Stump Cross Caverns (Limestone)
Stump Cross Caverns can surprise many as they climb the arching road over Greenhow Hill. Nidderdale and its unspoiled farmland spans the horizon and then your eyes hit the sign for Stump Cross Caverns. Deep in the hillside are limsetone caverns that allow you a glimpse of the country's rich past. Fossils of bison have been found in these caves.
- The Coldstones Cut (Limestone)
Quarrying played a huge part in Nidderdale's industrial past. The Coldstones Cut is a piece of public art that allows you to take in the Nidderdale landscape as well as look deep into the spectacular Coldstone quarry hole.
Concentrating on the landscape of Nidderdale is important: we want to make clear that a move to Nidderdale is a move to the countryside. The largest conurbation is drizzled in irony and filled by 2,000-people: Pateley Bridge. On one hand, yes: superfast broadband has rolled out over the dales, and the sense of community is equally strong. But if your idea of razzle-dazzle isn't an occassional blast of the Northern Lights (yes they have been seen over the Dales); and you prefer your flashes filled with mobs and not dampened by floods, we should direct you to our posts on Knaresborough and Harrogate.