The Nidderdale Way is a 53 mile circular walk beginning and ending in Pateley Bridge in the heart of Nidderdale.
The walk travels the length of the valley, and then back again on the other side, at times following the River Nidd, but often detouring away to include as many points of interest for walkers as possible.
The Way can be completed in two days by the truly committed and energetic, or in as many as seven for the more leisurely who like to take in all the views and points of interest. There are tea rooms and refreshments at regular points along the walk allowing you to experience the feel and flavour of Nidderdale.
The most popular and convenient number of days for completing the walk is four.
This allows four sections of roughly even length:- Pateley Bridge to Middlesmoor, Middlesmoor to Bewerley (or Pateley Bridge), Bewerley to Ripley and Ripley to Pateley Bridge.
The traditional route (you can start or end wherever you like) begins in Pateley Bridge, walking northwest on the southerly side of the valley. This route takes you straight into the industrial heritage of Nidderdale, and the long abandoned Providence House mines.
The Nidderdale Way then returns to the valley and makes its way along the nature reserve at Gouthwaite Reservoir where birdwatchers will find several viewing points allowing them to pause and observe the birdlife.
At the top of the reservoir is the small village of Ramsgill with the famous and beautiful Yorke Arms restaurant.
The route then treats it’s travellers to some idyllic rolling fields and livestock on the way to the top of Nidderdale and the villages of Lofthouse where you will find the Studfold Adventure Trails, and the remarkable How Stean Gorge.
After the climb to Middlesmoor and view from the car park down the valley which is not to be missed, walkers will cross the moors before dropping down the steep track to Scar House Reservoir.
This beautiful body of water was created along with its neighbour Angram in the early 1900s to provide water to the city of Bradford.
From here the Way begins the return journey down the valley, following moorland tracks and the quiet remote lanes alongside the very young River Nidd.
Fields and tracks will lead walkers back down through Lofthouse to Ramsgill and then along the other side of Gouthwaite Reservoir – loosely following the route of the Nidd Valley Light Railway which was used to transport supplies up the valley to build the reservoirs.
Following the River Nidd the route returns to Pateley Bridge, travelling up the high street and leaving via the scenic viewing point known as Panorama Rock, before following the paths and tracks to the natural wonder of Brimham Rocks.
From here the hills become more gentle and rolling as the route makes its way through the smaller villages to the castle village of Ripley.
From Ripley it’s on to the final leg and the Nidderdale Way crosses back over the River Nidd at Birstwith, and traces the banks of the Nidd through Darley to Summerbridge. This section is teeming with wildlife including dippers, king fishers and more recently otters.
In Summerbridge the walk leaves the valley floor for one final ascent, up to the fells of Heyshaw Moor, and over Guise Cliffs, a large rocky edge that looks out over Nidderfdale. The stunning view here looks back up the valley, the reciprocal view to one you will have enjoyed earlier at Middlesmoor.
At the end of Guise Cliff is Yorke’s Folly, a local landmark often called simply “Two Stoops”, which commands a scenic view over the town of Pateley Bridge, now just a few miles away. You descend to your end point and some well-earned refreshment through the ancient woodland of Skrikes Wood, and the idyllic village of Bewerley.
The Nidderdale was featured in (Series 36) of Radio 4’s Ramblings, with Claire Balding.