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An outstanding love of Nidderdale AONB

Nidderdale is part of the national family of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) – landscapes so special they are protected for the nation – it’s not surprising why.


The pandemic has thrown up so much stress and anxiety for many. If you’re bogged down by a problem or situation, there’s nothing like being in nature to put a perspective on it all.

Bluebell woods in Nidderdale AONB by Bridget Mellor

As the new Woodland Officer at Nidderdale AONB, I may be a little biased. But it’s all backed by science. Research from the University of East Anglia found spending time outdoors has significant and wide-ranging health benefits. It’s not surprising ‘forest bathing’ is a popular practice in Japan!


Nidderdale AONB covers 601km2 in the foothills of the Pennines in North Yorkshire. It features windswept moorlands, steep river valleys, rolling pastoral scenes, peaceful woodlands and tranquil expanses of water, with 11 reservoirs. It’s home to the world heritage site Fountains Abbey, 125 ancient monuments, 3 historic gardens, 574 listed buildings and 568 miles of public rights of way.

Nidderdale AONB reservoirs by Josh Shaw

With winter drawing in, now is the time wrap up and get out. During the pandemic, being outdoors is one of the few things we know will make a positive impact on your physical and mental health, boosting your immune system.

Go to our website nidderdaleaonb.org.uk to download free walking guides from short, family friendly routes to long distance trials. We’ve got plenty of suggestions to inspire you – from the Washburn Valley in the South to Jervaux Abbey at the northern tip of the AONB.


One simple thing you can do to really put life into perspective is to look up at the constellations on a dark, clear night.

Dark Sky Discovery Sites in Nidderdale

Nidderdale AONB is home to large areas of open moorland and small, remote villages, which means that light pollution is minimal and the night skies are some of the darkest in England. We have four official Dark Sky Discovery Sites: Thruscross, Scar House Reservoir, Fewston and Toff Gate. You can check out our Dark Sky tips on the website.


The AONB is protected because of its special qualities. Recently, we published our State of Nature Report – a detailed look at the health of our landscape and habitats to help us focus our future conservation work. We work with landowners, environmental groups and volunteers on conservation projects to help safeguard these qualities. Tree planting is one of the areas we’re focussing on in the next five years.

We want you to enjoy the AONB as we passionately believe people are at the centre of conservation. It’s important to create connections between people and the natural world. The more people enjoy and fall in love with it, the more they create memories and connections, the more they’ll want to protect it. 

So, if you do plan to go wild this winter, remember Respect, Protect, Enjoy – follow the Countryside Code.


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