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The Colsterdale Towers

The Colsterdale Towers

between Masham and Lofthouse

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

    Located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was designated in 1994 and covers an area of over 600 square kilometres. 

It shares its western boundary with the Yorkshire Dales National Park whilst to the north and east of the AONB, are the towns of Masham and Harrogate and the city of Ripon.

The AONB is managed by a small team who work on behalf of those who live and work within its boundaries, visitors to the area and the wider community.

Their primary purpose is to conserve and enhance the special qualities of the area whilst taking into consideration the social and economic needs of local people, and meeting the demand for responsible enjoyment of the countryside. 

The AONB office also publishes walking, cycle and mountain bike, routes, as well as running a calendar of events themed on heritage, wildlife, conservation and other topics connected to their work.

Nidderdale AONB is a working landscape that has been shaped by centuries of human activity.

The valley has been moulded by a land use history that embraces agriculture, mining, quarrying, textiles and water provision, and as a result it has an extremely rich and complex historic environment with a wealth of landscape features.

The varied countryside has created diverse habitats, which support a wide range of flora and fauna of national and international importance.

With its dramatic contrasts, Nidderdale AONB is a wonderful place to explore!

Whilst its central feature is the long, majestic dale of the River Nidd, the AONB stretches far beyond the valley of Nidderdale

The western side is occupied by a remote and wild gritstone landscape, with vast swathes of heather moorland that is internationally important for wildlife and home to some of the most famous grouse shoots in the country.

To the east lies a softer, more pastoral landscape with rolling farmland, traditional meadows rich in wildlife, sheltered river valleys.

This part of the AONB is scattered with historic parks and gardens such as Hackfall and Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal World Heritage Site.

To the south is the Washburn Valley with beautiful reservoirs, and picturesque stone built villages. 

Map of Nidderdale AONB

Whichever part of the AONB you’re in you’ll find a warm welcome with pubs serving local ales and tea rooms offering delicious homemade cakes and scones.

There are welcoming bed and breakfasts and cosy cottages from which to base your visit and in which to relax after a day of exploration.

The local bakeries will fuel the adventurous with freshly baked treats and the village and town butchers offer produce from the surrounding hills, and can tell you who raised the animals and where, such is the close connection between the farm and high street in Dales towns.

This combined with close and easy access to Harrogate, Ripon and York as well as the rest of the Yorkshire Dales make the Nidderdale AONB the perfect place to relax for a few days or more. 

*    *    *    *    *

Nidderdale AONB is one of 46 AONBs in the UK. AONBs are protected landscapes that were created alongside National Parks as a result of the ‘National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949’.

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