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Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor

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Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor
Author: Claire, Published: 12 Sep 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guidestar1 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guidestar1 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guidestar1 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guidestar0 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide
North Yorkshire, Nidderdale
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide boot Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular walk from the National Trust site of Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire, within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Brimham Rocks is a natural spectacle of giant rock formations, sculpted by 320 million years of ice, wind and continental shifts. The resulting formations come in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and, with a little imagination, they resemble familiar objects and animals. Along this trail you will have chance to see the Dancing Bear, the Turtle, the Mushroom, the Writing Desk and the Sphinx. The main visitor area at the heart of the rocks is understandably popular, but our walking route soon strikes out into the surrounding heather moorland where you will find yourself away from the crowds and enjoying stunning far-reaching views.

The walk includes a few gradients throughout. If follows a mixture of stone tracks, rocky paths plus very narrow paths through heather moorland. Some stretches can be muddy, and you will need to negotiate several steps and boardwalk bridges (but there are no stiles). Dogs are welcome throughout the walk and you will not be sharing any of the paths with livestock. The site is typically open every day from 8am to dusk. Allow 2 hours.

Brimham Rocks is located on Brimham Rocks Road, near Summerbridge. The site is accessed off the B6165, 11 miles from Harrogate, and is marked with brown tourism signs. The walk starts from the pay and display car park at Brimham Rocks. The car park is free for National Trust members, or costs £6 for 4 hours for non-members (correct Summer 2018). The car park fills up quickly during weekends and holidays, so arrive early during these peak times. Approximate post code HG3 4DW.

Walk Sections

Start to Cannon Rock
Start to Cannon Rock

Start point: 54.0768 lat, -1.6828 long
End point: 54.0775 lat, -1.6839 long

From the car park, take the sloping stone path which begins directly behind the noticeboard. Follow this path winding through the first of the impressive rock formations. Just a short way along, look out for a level stone platform on your left. This platform is known as Surprise View and gives you a small glimpse of the views across Nidderdale.

Stay on the path winding through the rocks, passing the first of the tall formations on your right and then the most impressive of the rocks yet, on your left. If you look towards the top of this rock, you will notice several holes running right through the formation. The rock is known as Cannon Rock, due to a 20-metre-long hollow tube that runs right through the rock.

Cannon Rock to Oak Tree Rock
Cannon Rock to Oak Tree Rock

Start point: 54.0775 lat, -1.6839 long
End point: 54.0793 lat, -1.6852 long

Continue on the all-weather path, winding ahead and ignoring any smaller side stone paths (unless you want to explore any of the individual formations). Further along you will reach Oak Tree Rock on your left. This oak tree has been growing from this rock for more than 250 years; it is shown in an 1804 sketch of Brimham by Mole Griffiths and is mentioned in an 1833 poem by Ebenezer Elliot.

Oak Tree Rock to Visitor Centre
Oak Tree Rock to Visitor Centre

Start point: 54.0793 lat, -1.6852 long
End point: 54.081 lat, -1.686 long

Continue ahead to reach a path T-junction. Turn left and follow the stone path as it leads you towards Brimham House. You will come to a path junction, with Brimham House directly ahead and the toilet block and refreshment kiosk on you right. Go up the flight of steps directly ahead to reach Brimham House (the visitor centre). Just on your left at the top of the steps you find a viewpoint, with a stone plinth which gives a key to several of the famous rocks and distant landmarks. See if you can pick out Turtle Rock and Watchdog Rock.

Visitor Centre to Writing Desk
Visitor Centre to Writing Desk

Start point: 54.081 lat, -1.686 long
End point: 54.0818 lat, -1.6871 long

Standing facing the view, turn right to walk in front of Brimham House, crossing the paved terrace and then bearing diagonally left to join a tarmac access drive downhill. Continue to the point just before the drive bends sharp left. Turn sharp right here to pass through the small staff car park. Directly in front of you now is the rock known as Dancing Bear or Begging Dog – which shape can you see?

Follow the path, passing Dancing Bear directly on your right. Continue along the path, passing a marker post which warns of a steep drop ahead. Just a few paces later, look diagonally left for a perfectly-framed view of the rock known as Druid’s Writing Desk or E.T. Which name do you prefer?

Writing Desk to Moorland Edge
Writing Desk to Moorland Edge

Start point: 54.0818 lat, -1.6871 long
End point: 54.0827 lat, -1.6848 long

Just a little further along, the path swings right and you will pass Idol Rock immediately on your right. Idol Rock is considered to be the most impressive rock formation at Brimham, due to the tiny rock plinth at the base which supports such a huge rock mass balancing above.

Continue past Idol Rock on your right and stay on the narrow path leading you through bracken and bilberries. Keep left at the main fork, heading up some rocky steps to reach a beautiful rock slab viewpoint, looking over Dallowgill Moor. NOTE: Beware of the steep drops at this viewpoint and take extra care with children and dogs.

Continue on the narrow path, winding through the bilberries to reach a fork. Take the right-hand branch and you will emerge out to the edge of an open section of moorland (with the rocks known as Middle Crag visible across to your right). (If you were to turn right here, this would lead back towards the visitor centre and allow you to shorten the walk).

Moorland Edge to Mushroom Rock
Moorland Edge to Mushroom Rock

Start point: 54.0827 lat, -1.6848 long
End point: 54.0849 lat, -1.6781 long

For the full walk, go ahead onto the main path leading into the heather moor. (NOTE: This moorland is open access and there are many intersecting paths, so remember to use the iFootpath App’s live GPS map to help with navigation). A short distance along, at the first fork, do NOT follow the main path which bears left and heads down some rock steps, instead take the right-hand fork which leads you gently uphill into the open moor.

Take time to enjoy the far-reaching views. You will come to a T-junction in the moorland path. Turn left to continue through the heather. Further along you will approach some more rocks, to reach a fork. Ignore the lower left-hand branch leading downhill, instead go ahead on the higher right-hand branch, heading for the Mushroom Rock sitting high in the distance. Follow the path winding ahead and it will lead you directly to reach Mushroom Rock with outstanding views ahead. Take a moment here to enjoy the rocks and panoramic views.

Mushroom Rock to Hare Heads
Mushroom Rock to Hare Heads

Start point: 54.0849 lat, -1.6781 long
End point: 54.0826 lat, -1.6746 long

Standing on the rock platform facing the Mushroom Rock and views, turn right to continue on the moorland path. The path soon leads you down through a narrow gap between two rock platforms, heads down through a dip and gently climbs up the far side.

You will pass two isolated rocks on your left before passing a few silver birch trees and emerging to views of the next impressive rock collection. You will reach a fork in the path. Ignore the left-hand branch (which leads down towards the rocks), instead take the right-hand branch which meanders ahead, passing the rocks across to your left. The rocks in this corner of the moor are known as Hare Heads.

Hare Heads to Access Road
Hare Heads to Access Road

Start point: 54.0826 lat, -1.6746 long
End point: 54.08 lat, -1.6766 long

Continue on the moorland path as it bears steadily right, always with the Hare Heads rocks to your left and ignoring any side paths that lead to the rocks themselves. Eventually the rocks end and your path leads you ahead across the open moor (with the Brimham Rocks access road running across to your left). You will reach a fork in the path. Take the left-hand branch which leads you out to the road, directly opposite a parking lay-by.

Access Road to Nidderdale Way
Access Road to Nidderdale Way

Start point: 54.08 lat, -1.6766 long
End point: 54.0739 lat, -1.6684 long

Turn left along the road for about 150 metres to reach an access track on your right (alongside a fingerpost). Do NOT follow the access track itself, instead take the sharp-right turn, a narrow grass path signed as a public footpath. Follow this path leading you south through Brimham Moor. On a world scale, natural heather habitats are extremely rare, rarer than rainforest. According to the Moorland Association, 75% of the world's remaining heather moorland is found in Britain and that habitat has been declining rapidly. Brimham Moor has the particular distinction of being home to three local varieties (ling heather, bell heather, and cross-leaved heather) and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Much further down, the path crosses a couple of springs so this stretch of path can be a bit boggy. After 0.5 miles (towards the bottom of the moor), the path leads you into a section of silver birch trees, goes ahead over a small plank bridge and then turns left to lead you over a series of boardwalk bridges (crossing several streams).

Beyond the boardwalks, bear right a little to pick up the continuation of the moorland path, with the stone boundary wall running just across to your left. The path leads you gently uphill and you will emerge to a crossroads of paths (with a stile and gate to your left). This marks the point at which we join the Nidderdale Way.

Nidderdale Way to End
Nidderdale Way to End

Start point: 54.0739 lat, -1.6684 long
End point: 54.0769 lat, -1.6827 long

Turn right to join the grass track leading you directly away from the stile and gate, part of the Nidderdale Way. Follow this wide moorland track which leads you generally westwards. As you gain height, you will have beautiful views to Brimham Rocks across to your right. The Nidderdale Way is a 52-mile circular long-distance path, within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

After about 400 metres, you will reach a waymarker post, at a fork in the track. Ignore the left-hand branch, instead keep ahead on the main track still following the Nidderdale Way (marked with the silhouette of a curlew in flight). A little further along, ignore a side track to the right, instead keep ahead on the main Nidderdale Way moorland track. The track leads you all the way out to the road.

Cross over with care and go ahead to join the grass public footpath. You will reach a junction with a stone track. Turn right along this and then turn left to join the entrance drive for the Brimham Rocks car park where the walk began.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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network Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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8 gallery images for "Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor"

11662_3clairesharpuk1536766991 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018

11662_2clairesharpuk1536766991 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018

11662_1clairesharpuk1536766991 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018

11662_0clairesharpuk1536766991 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018

11662_3clairesharpuk1536766894 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018

11662_2clairesharpuk1536766893 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018
The writing desk
11662_1clairesharpuk1536766893 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018
The begging dog
11662_0clairesharpuk1536766893 Brimham Rocks and Brimham Moor Walking Guide Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 12 Sep 2018

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