Located within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Yorkshire, Brimham Rocks is an area characterised by dramatic rock formations.
My first visit to Brimham Rocks was years ago as a child but, other than the fact that there were a lot of rocks, I couldn’t remember a great deal about it. So given the opportunity to re-visit recently, I jumped at the chance. My memories were correct on one count – there are a lot of rocks – but I hadn’t realised quite how special the area is.
Brimham Rocks, which is National Trust owned, covers an area of 400 acres and is located at a height of nearly 300 metres. From the car park, there are paths to walk through which take you through wooded and open areas awash with rocks. They’re not just ordinary rocks though – these are huge, unusually shaped rocks and it almost feels like you’re wandering through a rocky outcrop in another world.
The rocks were first formed 320 million years ago, when grit and sand washed through the area. As the layers of grit and sand built up, in addition to rock crystals and quartz, a sandstone known as Millstone Grit was formed. As they eroded over the years, all sorts of unique shapes were created, making the rocks decidedly quirky and unique.
Many of the rocks have been given names over the years, such as the eagle, the dancing bear and the writing desk. However, many people see different images in them (we thought the eagle looked a bit like a dragon) and both adults and children can enjoy seeing what shapes they think the rocks represent. Some will even change depending on how near or far you’re standing from them, or the angle from which you’re viewing them.
Exploring the Rocks
If you’re feeling adventurous, then many of the rocks can be explored, by climbing on them, going through them (there are hole-like spaces in various places) or by simply sitting or standing on them. Children love this element, although you do need to ensure they’re supervised, as some areas can be dangerous. Experienced rock climbers can also take advantage of climbing some of the larger rocks.
In some parts, there are fantastic panoramic views to be had over the surrounding Yorkshire moors and, up near the exhibition room (it was unfortunately just closing on our visit), there’s a point marking the highest point in the area.
There are plenty of walks around the Brimham Rocks, which is also a nature reserve, and it’s easy for time to fly by. You could easily spend a morning, afternoon or the whole day here and it’s the perfect spot to bring a picnic, relax and enjoy the views.
The rocks certainly provide a very striking landscape, with a strong contrast to the surrounding area, and are a definite must-see on any Yorkshire Dales itinerary. Our sunny visit culminated in a very dramatic ending, as we were treated to a sudden downpour, the appearance of a stunning rainbow, then thunder and lightening – it was quite a place to be in that weather!
Tel: 01423 780688