Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire – 30th June 2024

Strenuous Leader :  Malcolm              Distance : 10 miles  (1800+ ft of climb)

We head south west out of Pateley Bridge along the road before turning south onto the Nidderdale Way through the picturesque village of Bewerley. After a steep climb through Skirkes Wood to Nought Moor we reach Yorke’s Folly for our lunch stop. From here, we stay on the Nidderdale Way across the potentially boggy moorland before descending through Hawkshaw Gill Wood into the valley and crossing the river at Harewell Hall. We pick up the Nidderdale Way again at Smelthouses and have another steep ascent through woods before heading back to Pateley Bridge through White Houses and Blazefield.

Moderate Leader:  Pamela                           Distance : 8.5 miles

We will leave town past the agricultural centre and head up the road to pick up the Nidderdale Way to cross fields and paths to climb up to Hillend and make our way up to the disused lead mine workings.  We will break here for lunch then follow the path adjacent to Ashfold Side Beck for a couple of miles before climbing again to the small but quaint village of Heathfield.  We will walk along the road before crossing fields for our steep descent into Wath where we will pick up the Nidderdale Way again and head back the couple of miles into Pateley Bridge in time for a pint.

Easy Leader:  Sue                                                     Distance: 4.5 miles

From the village centre we take a public footpath passing Bridgehouse Gate and Eagle Farm.  Then onto the Nidderdale Way – there is one section of steady uphill which we will take slowly, this walk is 4.5 miles today and we have plenty of time for short stops.  We will walk as far as Hillend which is a nice spot for lunch.  Downhill now towards Mosscarr.  A short section on a minor road which leads us to a public footpath alongside Foster Beck which feeds into the River Nidd.  This is a pretty walk alongside the river which leads onto the park and then back to the car park.

Open pastures, good views, a few gates and stiles, mostly good tracks and paths.


Pateley Bridge is a picturesque village and is the only route into Upper Nidderdale but it, and the small villages which surround it, are well worth exploring. Tourists are well catered for and there are several caravan sites. The Nidderdale Museum was opened in 1975. Run by local enthusiasts it occupies part of the former council offices opposite the parish church.

The name Pateley may derive from Pate, which is the old name for a badger, or perhaps from Patleia which means a path through the glade. Originally the main village was set high on the hillside near the ruined 14th century church of St Mary which was damaged during the Scots raids around 1318. In 1320 a market and a fair to be held on the Feast of St Mary was granted. This market has lapsed, but the Feast, which takes place on the first Monday after the 17th September, is now the Nidderdale Show, and the highlight of the year.

The present day parish church, was built in the 19th century, and is dedicated to St Cuthbert, but it has a bell which was brought to the town when Fountains Abbey was dissolved in the late 1530s. This now has a place of honour in the body of the church and its Latin inscriptions are clearly legible.

A bridge at Pateley was first mentioned in1320 but this would have been made of wood. The present structure was built in the 18th century and was subsequently widened on one side. Beyond it is a pleasant little park with a playground for children, tennis courts and bowling greens lending it an almost seaside atmosphere.

Brimham Rocks must be one of the most haunting geological formations to be found anywhere in the world. These huge structures are made from sandstone laid down in desert conditions around 300 million years ago. The sandstone has been worn by wind and rain into fantastic shapes which have been given equally fantastic names including Indians Turban, Baboons Head, the Sphinx, Dancing Bear, Blacksmith and his Anvil, and the Druids Writing Desk. When visitors first began exploring this heather clad area, the legend grew that the Druids had carved them.

There are well marked paths running among the rocks and, next to one called the Crocodile is Brimham House, now an Information Centre in which the local geology is explained. The 362acre site is owned by the National Trust. From the trig point near Brimham House, 987 feet above sea level, there are splendid views, as well as many a stiff breeze. On a bright day one can see the Humber Estuary and York Minster.