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On the Rocks, with a Grand Piano, in Nidderdale AONB

On the Rocks, with a Grand Piano, in Nidderdale AONB

Who said you can’t put a grand piano on an inaccessible rock for an impromptu concert?

It just took four men, a transit van, a ramp, a team of volunteers, a pianist, many permissions, a watchful eye on the weather forecasts, photographers, BBC filming and a drone… Phew.

Which leads to the second and most important question:

Why put a grand piano on Brimham Rocks?

Brimham Rocks is located in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The clue is in the name. AONBs are so special that they are legally protected by the nation. Nidderdale AONB makes up nearly half of the Harrogate district and is a big part of its identity. 

the Nidderdale landscape, by Joy Nightingale

Next week will see Nidderdale AONB celebrate Landscapes for Life Week along with the other 45 AONBs across the UK.  #MyNationalLandscapes aims to help people reconnect with nature by enjoying and being inspired by our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Music – art – nature

Their restorative, uplifting, healing powers are what makes life worth living. It is perhaps one of the most profound outcomes of lockdown – how we’ve all re-prioritised the great outdoors, open space and natural  beauty: The Natural Health Service.

Seeing the piano being played on Brimham Rocks highlighted how much we need both nature and the arts – and why we should safeguard both.

Piano music at Brimham Rocks, by Gary Lawson

Both are under threat. Without nature’s inspiration, we would not have the most influential works of art ever created – from the poetry of Wordsworth and sonnets of Shakespeare to the paintings of Hockney or music of Debussy. Without which, our lives would be so much greyer.

We had to put that piano up there

That’s why we lumbered a piano onto the rocks on an unseasonably hot September day.  It was a visual shortcut to all this.  

We were not the only ones who thought so:  the image went viral – on the front page of the Yorkshire Post, in The Times, the Telegraph, the Independent, on BBC Look North, and a film shot on the day was broadcast to the world via msn, Yahoo and the Press Association.

The Harrogate District is home to astounding natural beauty. Go and enjoy it. If you venture into the great outdoors you’ll create experiences and memories of a lifetime.  You will fall in love with it and what you love, you are more likely to safeguard and protect.

We can all be custodians of our countryside, and our precious arts.

About the Organisers

I co-run Cause UK with my sister, Clair. We work to raise the profile of organisations – many of which operate in tourism and the arts. We put heart and intelligence into the national news agenda and we have been delighted to put these skills to work in growing awareness and appreciation of Nidderdale AONB.

Who would put a piano on rock in the middle of Yorkshire?

Clair has come up with some remarkable media stunts in the past decade. So when she asked Melvin Besbrode, who runs the piano emporium Besbrode Pianos in Leeds, if he could put a grand piano on the rocks, he didn’t even blink. “I’m used to Clair walking on water,” he joked. The impossible is always possible.

Images of the day were taken by, and credited to Gary Lawson Photography



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