Walk: Taking in the wonderful scenery of Nidderdale

A serene scene from the bridge
A serene scene from the bridge
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Starting at Ripley, this walk - courtesy of the Walking Englishman - takes around four hours and explores the beautiful Nidderdale countryside

The Nidderdale countryside, north of Harrogate, is beautiful. The valley is at a transition point in the area around Ripley, Hampsthwaite and Birstwith. Upstream to the source of the river the valley narrows with prominent moors above the hillsides north of Pateley Bridge and thereafter the valley widens as the river passes Summerbridge, Dacre Banks and Darley. Downstream there is the drama of Nidd Gorge followed by a meandering course towards its end when it flows into the River Ouse at Nun Monkton. The walk does not start by the river but a half mile north at the village cross in the historic village of Ripley.

Birstwith

Birstwith

The route

Set off from the village cross and amble out of Ripley along the Nidderdale Way by way of Hollybank Lane footpath running alongside the south side of the castle grounds on a course west towards Clint.

After precisely one mile of walking on Hollybank Lane, the last short section through Hollybank Wood, turn left and downhill on a bridleway leading away from the Nidderdale Way. The bridleway leads down on a hedged track between fields towards the river at Hampsthwaite Bridge.

Follow the road from Hampsthwaite Bridge which leads directly into the village. Now a quiet satellite village Hampsthwaite was historically an important place.

A young family in the River Nidd near New Bridge

A young family in the River Nidd near New Bridge

In 1304, Edward I, Hammer of the Scots granted a charter to Hampsthwaite to hold an annual market and fair on the Feast of St Thomas the Martyr.

From Hampsthwaite continue along the side of the Birstwith road for a short distance before tracking on a path across a field to the riverside which is followed upstream towards Birstwith village. Not long after reaching the river you will arrive on the outskirts of Birstwith and the extraordinarily beautiful setting of Birstwith Church.

Stop in the village and stand looking over the bridge to the weirs in the river for a good while before carrying on by continuing along the river upstream.

There are fantastic views along the section of walking from Birstwith to New Bridge where you leave the side of the river. It is only one-and-a-half miles on the Nidderdale Way which you rejoin before Hampsthwaite Bridge by bypassing the road section to Clint but it is one of the best riverside sections of the entire Nidderdale Way.

Hampsthwaite

Hampsthwaite

Now would be a good time for lunch.

After some refreshment, make your way across New Bridge and away from the Nidderdale Valley by climbing the northern slopes of the dale to Catstone Wood, past Dinmore House and towards the village of Burnt Yates, which sits on the B6165 linking Ripley to Pateley Bridge. After Catstone Wood and as you gain further height, the views begin to open out.

After an unnoticeable 100 metres of climbing on paths alongside and across fields to Burnt Yates you come into the village. It is a very quiet place, apart from the traffic streaming along the road which splits the village. Do not linger, crossing the road and heading across more fields. These lead to Pye Lane which links Birstwith, Clint and Burnt Yates to the village of Shaw Mills. On reaching Pye Lane do not follow it north to Shaw Mills but immediately cross the road to follow a couple more field sides to the farm at Hill Top from where you follow the road to Bedlam.

Cross the B6165 for a second time and follow paths across fields and down towards Ripley. Here you can see Ripley Park and the work of manicuring landscapers which has shaped so many of the parks of British stately homes into features of wonder.

Between Hampsthwaite and Birstwith

Between Hampsthwaite and Birstwith

Theres some great traditional views during the walk

Theres some great traditional views during the walk