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Yorkshire's very own 'Monument Valley'

Updated on February 9, 2017

Nidderdale's Balancing Boulders

Brimham Rocks

For a day out that appeals to young and old alike amidst the beauty and grandeur of the Yorkshire Dales it is difficult to match the dramatic and rugged scenery afforded by a visit to Brimham Rocks.

A series of naturally formed rock formations, with exotic names such as Druid's Castle Rocks' and 'Druid's Writing Desk', Brimham Rocks were eroded over countless years by the actions of the wind and weather. Covering an area of 50 acres of rocks, woods and moorland and rising to a height of 300 metres there are views in every direction over the surrounding unspoilt countryside. This part of North Yorkshire is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty and abundant in wildlife. Brimham Rocks is in the care of the National Trust.

How Did The Rocks Get There?

photos by AJ Waller
photos by AJ Waller

The Victorians believed that the strange rock shapes were man-made, possibly attributed to the Druids, but sadly this is not the case.

Visitors have been coming to the area for over 200 years to walk amongst and see the fantastically shaped towering rock formations sculptured from the millstone grit. However the history and geology of the area goes back hundreds and thousands and even millions of years.

The millstone grit rocks at Brimham once formed part of a vast delta of sand and pebbles washed down from distant mountain ranges. Later Ice Ages and the effects of glacial action deposited larger rocks and boulders onto the millstone grit. Erosion of the softer millstone grit by wind, rain and weather has, over many thousands of years, carved out the rock formations and outcrops seen today.

Now Brimham Rocks is an area of fantastic shapes and rock formations, many appearing to balance precariously on one another. The descriptive names given to some of these outcrops speak for themselves, names such as 'Dancing Bear', 'Sphinx', Eagle Rock', 'Castle Rocks' and 'Blacksmith's Anvil', to name just a few.

A markerBrimham Rocks -
Brimham Rocks, near Pateley Bridge
get directions

Location And Visitor Information

How to get there

Brimham Rocks stand on the moors overlooking Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales, 4 miles east of Pately Bridge off the B6265, 8 miles south west of Ripon and 10 miles north of Harrogate off the B6165. It is well signposted and a popular tourist destination.

There is a visitor car park, open all year round from 8am to dusk. The visitor centre, shop and kiosk is open 11-5 most days from mid February to December, though visitors are advised to check the National Trust website.

An all weather path suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs wends its way from the car park between the rock formations to the information centre and refreshments kiosk. There are many other smaller, uneven footpaths criss-crossing the area.

Visitors should take care, particularly in wet weather, as the rocks can be slippery and dangerous, and there are cliff edges.

Charges apply for the pay and display car park and are currently (2014) as follows:

Cars, £5 for up to 4 hours, all day £6.

Motorcycles, free

There is no charge for National Trust members displaying a valid membership badge.

About the author

Antony was born in the small coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea, and lived in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire before returning to his native Yorkshire. He has spent his adult life in the north of England working for a UK Bank and two Government Agencies.

Now living in Yorkshire between the Dales and the Moors Antony enjoys writing and taking photographs. He has written and published two ebooks bringing together some of his short stories and humorous anecdotes, and been published in The Yorkshire Dalesman.

His interests include walking, photography, history, travel, reading and watching cricket.

Gosh! And not even a penny for your thoughts. Remember, It's the thought that counts!

© 2011 Antony J Waller

You Rock! - Our Readers Rock!

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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello again. Another collectable - ever thought of putting these together as a sort of travelogue through the YTB?

      Been here, done that (well before these new parking charges). We went to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal on the same day, along with the White Scar caves where you get a hard hat to go down into the old mine workings - palaeolithic remains have been found down there).

    • profile image

      Colin323 4 years ago

      You have captured some great images of the rocks, and agree this is a beautiful place (I've lived in Wharfedale for 30 years)

    • Northern-Light profile image

      Antony J Waller 6 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @julieannbrady: Thanks, there is similar style artwork in my lens "Saltburn, a Victorian dream by the sea"

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      I love your collage of all the rocks and boulders ... another work of art.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Interesting lens - I've been to the Yorkshire Dales but unfortunately I must have missed this!

    • Northern-Light profile image

      Antony J Waller 6 years ago from North Yorkshire

      Thanks, can you shout that a little louder!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Another great article, deserves a higher rank!