7 reasons to visit Pateley Bridge

Pateley Bridge by Phil Moon

Pateley Bridge by Phil Moon - Credit: Archant

The small town of Pateley Bridge is blessed with enviable good looks, sitting as it does amid some of the most beautiful countryside in Yorkshire.


It’s perfectly placed at the centre of Nidderdale, most of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which ensures the glorious landscape is not disturbed.

So, as you stroll undisturbed along the River Nidd contemplating what the day ahead holds, might we make a few suggestions?

Big arted


You don’t have to travel far from the centre of Pateley Bridge to enjoy a host of inspirational places including Brimham Rocks, Fountains Abbey and Stump Cross Caverns. The Coldstones Cut, Yorkshire’s biggest and highest sculpture, is a not-to-be-missed must-see just two miles west of town. It was created three years ago overlooking Coldstones quarry with spectacular views across Nidderdale. It’s a short, steep walk up from the car park, but when you reach the top the views take your breath away (as does the wind on blustery days).

The sculpture, designed by artist Andrew Sabin, sits 418m above sea level and is shaped like a streetscape with spiralling walkways leading to viewing platforms which reveal amazing panoramas.

Parking life


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Parking, that perennial bugbear that blights many a good day out, is not a problem in Pateley, which offers exceptional value for a much-visited market town. It’s either free or 70p at the pay and display car park behind the tourist information centre.

Once you’ve safely (and cheaply) parked up, there’s plenty going on in the High Street, with lots of lovely places for tea and cake, local produce and treats (don’t miss the Oldest Sweet Shop in England, which opened in 1827).

Brilliant ideas


The banks of the River Nidd (which means ‘brilliant’ in Celtic) at Pateley Bridge are popular for picnics and provide lovely walking after a long car journey, with plenty of wildlife to absorb the birdwatcher or plant-spotter.

The Nidd is dammed at three points to create Scar House, Gouthwaite and Angram reservoirs (the highest in Nidderdale). The AONB guide Explore Nidderdale says a village was created to house the workforce which built Scar House reservoir. It had hot and cold water, electric lighting, flushing toilets (the luxury!), shops, a cinema, concert hall and an on-site hospital. Apparently, you can still see the foundations of the village if you look hard enough.

Which craft?


The Old Workhouse in King Street is a hive of industry, packed with craft businesses designing and making unique pieces of art. Among them are glassmakers Andrew Sanders and David Wallace have worked together for more than 30 years using traditional English glassmaking techniques and recycled glass to produce everything from drinking glasses to perfume bottles and paper weights.

The Old Workhouse is also home to the volunteer-run Nidderdale Museum which has a broad collection of objects that paint a picture of everyday life during different eras – including wartime – across the dale.

Full of praise


The parish church of St Cuthbert, built in 1827, might be considered plain in purely architectural terms but, up close, it’s actually pretty imposing.

It’s dedicated to an Anglo-Saxon monk who spent his younger years at Ripon monastery and went on to become one of the most important medieval saints of northern England.

Walk the walk


Pateley Bridge is at the heart of the iconic Nidderdale Way, a 53-mile circular walk (cycle, jog or trot) that encompasses a landscape unchanged in millennia. The route meanders through the upper, middle and lower valleys of the Nidd. The Upper Valley boasts the stunning limestone How Stean Gorge, dubbed ‘Little Switzerland’ by Victorian climbers, and the unspoilt, cobblestoned village of Middlesmoor that can trace its roots to the 12th century.

In the Middle Valley is Brimham Rocks, an extraordinary collection of marvellous and weirdly shaped rock formations that fills some 50 acres of Brimham Moor. And, in the Lower Valley, Ripley Castle, home of the Ingilby family for more than 700 years, provides a riot of spring and summer colour thanks to its glorious gardens, laid out by Capability Brown. The Nidderdale Way can be completed in four days, but why rush? Take your time and enjoy the outstanding natural beauty – and the outstanding hospitality of the numerous inns along the way.

To do list


There’s rarely a dull moment in the dale. Among the annual highlights are Nidderdale Arts Trail, which offers a wide range of arts and crafts exhibitions; Pateley Bridge Walking Festival, where keen walkers share their favourite routes; Nidderdale Show, a traditional one-day agricultural show held by the river; and NiddFest, a family-friendly literary festival featuring some of the UK’s best writers with a particular emphasis on the glories of the great outdoors.