Walks in Nidderdale
With a network of 820.0 km of trails carved throughout expansive moorland, hushed woodland, pastoral landscapes, there’s no shortage of space to explore in Nidderdale—and the variety etched throughout the countryside elevates the scenery to the next level. Outside of the natural beauty cloaking Nidderdale, you’ll find several walks winding to and by crumbling stone walls that hark to ancient times and old field barns. Walking in Nidderdale mirrors stepping into a timeless folk tale, where stories upon stories of those before us linger in the air.
The Greatest Walks in Nidderdale
Nidderdale boasts an array of walks, whether you’re seeking a long-distance route, short and family-friendly, or more intense hill walks on open access land! Take a look at some of the greatest walks in Nidderdale below and pick one that caters to you:
- Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Loop Walk - Looking for a long, leisurely meander? Consider the 11.4 km Swintsy and Fewston Reservoir Loop Walk, where you'll bask in Nidderdale's stunning views as you take on a gentle incline. This route may be slightly long for wee ones, but in general, it's a great family-friendly walk. There's nothing more relaxing than circumnavigating a glossy water source!
- Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk - Don't have the time for an 11.4 km walk? The 5.5 km Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk is a great alternative. Stroll along the lake that can be so glassy that it reflects the clouds through lovely woodlands and ancient stone walls lining your path.
- Swinton Bivouac Walk - Explore varied views stretching across the historic Swinton Estate on this 24.0 km walk! En route, you'll get the chance to experience views of Roundhill and the Leighton Reservoir. Another highlight is passing through the ever-so-quaint village of Ilton. You can even pre-order a picnic for when you reach Bothy Hut. On top of this, the natural scenery will keep you just as entertained as the buildings along the Swinton Bivouac Walk.
- Brimham Rocks and Moor Walk - Discover one of the more fascinating natural phenomenons in Nidderdale AONB on the Brimham Rocks and Moor Walk: rocks sculpted by continental shifts, wind, and ice more than 320 years ago. Expect to marvel at a range of unique rock formations as you walk! After the rocks, you'll reach views stretching deep into the horizon.
- Greenhow Walk - One of the more challenging walks in Nidderdale, the Greenhow Walk unveils moorland views while leading you to ancient lead mines. While you're walking, look out for lapwings, curlews, snipes, and other bird species flying above you.
- Swinton Park Walk - Not in the mood to spend a full day exploring Swinton Park? The 4.5 km Swinton Park Walk in Swinton Estate takes you along streams, undulating fields, and crumbling ruins. While this walk is short, it does boast some ups and downs, so prepare for your heart rate to increase ever-so-slightly. At the end of the walk, you'll reach a walled garden, which doesn't open until 10 am and requires an entrance fee. Our route is a one-way walk, but you can always retrace your steps and head back, doubling the 4.5 km distance.
- Thornton Steward Circular Walk - Revel in expansive countryside views stretching across Nidderdale on this 11.6 km circular walk that boasts a gentle elevation gain, making this a fun walk for anyone looking to stroll through nature without putting in too much effort! During your walk, take a break at Cover Bridge Inn for some well-deserved refreshments
- Angram Reservoir Circular Walk - The Angram Reservoir Circular Walk takes you around two stunning reservoirs while also leading you to Scar House Dam, an imposing walled dam adorned with cascading waters. While this walk is pet-friendly, the second reservoir may have locks on the gates, which can be challenging for some pups to maneuver.
- Swinton Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck Walk - The Swinton Bivouac, Druid's Temple and Sole Beck Walk packs a punch when it comes to varied views: outstanding Nidderdale countryside scenery, the magical Swinton Estate, ancient ruins (Druid's Temple, Lobley Hall), woodland, moorland, and more! The first half is easy to navigate, but the second portion along the stream is more technical. All in all, this is a highlight of a walk in Nidderdale.
- Hackfall and River Ure Circular Walk - Feel like the pages of a storybook swallowed you and immersed you in a fairytale on the Hackfall and River Ure Circular Walk, which takes you into woods coloured in deep green, by roaring waterfalls, ancient castle, and relaxing ponds. This route may be short at 4.7 km, but the rough terrain and craggy woodland flight steps can be challenging!
When Is The Best Time To Walk in Nidderdale AONB?
The best time to walk in Nidderdale AONB is during the warmer months when the trails are less boggy and muddy. While some routes navigate stone paths, making them more accessible year-round, others may not be in the best conditions after rain. It’s best to explore Nidderdale via foot between April and May to September and October!
Best Regions for Walking in Nidderdale AONB?
You’ll find a range of trails etched across Swinton Estate in Nidderdale, where gardens, ancient ruins, and incredible countryside will keep you well entertained. This area boasts 20,000 acres of natural beauty contrasted with a dramatic castle and more old architecture.
Other Outdoor Activities in Nidderdale AONB?
Other activities in Nidderdale AONB include horseback riding along 170.0 km of bridleways or cycling either the Northern AONB Loop (64.4 km) or the Southern AONB Loop (62.8 km). There are also some great family-friendly bike routes, and super intense hill climbs for those seeking some cardiovascular activity. Meanwhile, canoers and kayakers can go paddling on Scar House reservoir, but you will have to organize this with the owners of How Stean Gorge. Or, you can arrange a paddling session on Glasshouses Mill Dam with Bewerley Park Outdoor Centre. This is an excellent spot for families or beginners!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the best place to stay in Nidderdale?
The nearest town to Nidderdale is Harrogate. However, the AONB is peppered with quaint villages worth exploring for a day or two. For example, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you’re walking amid the medieval, gothic architecture sweeping Pateley Bridge or meandering Masham, a market town. Another great option is Ripton, which was named one of the best places to live in North Yorkshire.
Is Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales?
No, Yorkshire Dales National Park was established in 1954. The boundary of the park excludes Nidderdale.
How big is Nidderdale?
Nidderdale stretches across 233 square miles (600 km2). So much room for activities!
Find more walking regions
- Lake District Walks
- Peak District Walks
- South Downs Walks
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Walks
- Chiltern Hills Walks
- Snowdonia Walks
Or use this link to find all walking regions in the UK.
Best Hikes in Nidderdale AONB
Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk
The Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk is a relatively flat walk, making it perfect for a family outing. Enjoy the fresh air as you wander along this path and take in the captivating views of Nidderdale AONB. The path is full of stone, so it is great most of the year as it doesn’t get too muddy during the wetter months.
Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk
The Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk in Nidderdale takes you on a stunning stroll through incredible scenery. Explore the lake that mirrors the clouds and the enchanting woodlands. Wander along the ancient walls that border this walk as well!
Swinton Bivouac Walk
The beautiful Swinton Bivouac Walk challenges you with its length but rewards you with stunning views of Roundhill and the Leighton Reservoir. You will also visit the quaint village of Ilton and pass Bothy Hut, a great place to take a break and enjoy a picnic. This path will take you along The Six Dales Trail, which showcases beautiful open pastures and old stone walls and farmhouses.
Brimham Rocks and Moor Walk
The Brimham Rocks and Moor Walk is a natural phenomenon that was created over 320 years ago, where rocks were sculpted by ice, wind and continental shifts. Along the path, you will have the chance to see formations such as the Turtle, Dancing Bear, the Writing Desk, the Mushroom and the Sphinx. Past the rock formations lie incredible views that span as far as the eye can see.
Pateley Bridge Walk
The Pateley Bridge Walk takes you on a lovely stroll in Nidderdale. Explore Glasshouses and wander along the Pateley Bridge that hangs over the river. You will also pass through market town and the endless open fields in this area.
Swinton Park to Swinton Bivouac Walk
The Swinton Park to Swinton Bivouac Walk is an amazing mixture of many different elements. Head to Swinton Park to explore the ancient ruins of Lobley Hall and then to the Swinton Bivouac to enjoy the tree lodges, yurts and bistro cafes. Entrance fees do apply to enjoy Swinton Park so make sure you are prepared for this.
Brimham Rocks Walk
The Brimham Rocks Walk is a lovely journey that showcases the beauty of the countryside. Take in the expansive and captivating views that can be seen on this path and discover the unique rock formations. Dip into the woodlands and immerse yourself in nature.
The Greenhow Walk is a wonderful option for adventure seekers who want a bit of a challenge. The strenuous route boasts views of the surrounding bleak moorland, where you can discover ancient lead mines. Keep your eyes peeled for different bird species that frequent this area, such as lapwings, snipes and curlews.
Thornton Steward Circular Walk
The Thornton Steward Circular Walk is a lovely journey that showcases expansive views across Nidderdale. Discover countless sheep grazing along the open fields and wander along the river. Stop at the Cover Bridge Inn, where you can enjoy the beer garden after a nice, peaceful walk.
Angram Reservoir Circular Walk
Wander through the two stunning nature reservoirs on the Angram Reservoir Circular Walk! You will also come across the massive walled Scar House Dam where you can watch the waters cascade down the tall walls of the dam creating a waterfall-like appearance. While this walk is dog-friendly, the gates along the second reservoir may be locked, making it tough for some pups to navigate.
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