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How Stean Gorge

Lofthouse, Harrogate, N Yorkshire, HG3 5SF
How Stean Gorge


Add How Stean Gorge to your Itinerary


Tel: 01423 755666

A Natural Wonder. Carved out over thousands of years by waterflow, the Gorge is a spectacular limestone ravine in the Yorkshire Dales.  Now with a stunning new glass floored building that hangs out over the gorge.  Experience the hieght, and the beauty of this place as has never been possible before.

How Stean Gorge is currently closed, we are keeping this under review and we look forward to welcoming you back when we reopen. 

We have implemented a one way system and passing places that mean you can explore this wonderful and special place safely and confidently.  

This steep sided chasm is almost 1 km (just over ½ a mile) in length and up to 20 metres (80ft) deep in places. Armed with hardhat and torch, you’ll love scrambling through the gorge. Follow winding walkways and aerial footbridges, explore the river’s edge and discover cave systems by torchlight. Touch a fossil, spot a bat, taste the garlic, listen to birds and watch the fish. You might even see an otter.  Don’t forget to bring your wellies and torch! (Torches can be bought at £2.50)

When it’s dry, the gorge is a picturesque, sheltered site for relaxation and a scenic walk by the peaceful river. After rain however, it is dramatic! You will see and feel the power of water as the torrents gush over the rocks, creating gurgling whirlpools. It is a natural feature so small children will need to be supervised as there are sheer drops and ledges.

In November 2017 How Stean Gorge opened its expanded visitor centre, featuring a stunning new viewing room that reaches out over the gorge itself.  The room has glass walls floor to ceiling, and glass panals in the floor allowing you look down into the gorge.  This gives a remarkable view of not only the gorge and the beck that runs through it, but also of family members who are enjoying one of the many activities that take place within the gorge, all from the warm indoors over a cup of something hot!

See if you can find Aslan hiding in the depths of the gorge. As part of the publicity for CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia film Prince Caspian, Disney commissioned this oak carving of Aslan which is now at home among the tree lined gorge. Aslan was carved from a single piece of oak wood by Chainsaw artist David Williams.

If you are feeling adventurous, explore ‘Tom Taylor’s Cave’ which takes you deep underground. Tom Taylor was reputedly a Highwayman who used to hide in the cave with his ill-gotten gains! You can now explore the 300ft tunnel as it leads to a cave from where you can clamber out and emerge in the middle of the campsite!  There are points on the journey where you may get a little wet from the dripping stalactites and the odd bat may be lurking in the cave to welcome you.

You’ll find fossils forever frozen in the rocks beneath your feet. You can also search for bugs and beasts.  You’ll see the clear water beneath the bridges where you may spot a trout or two. You may even see an otter come for his lunch!  This stone in the gorge is made up of coral and shells. If you keep your eyes open you can see the remains of crinoids (long thin fossils of plants) and brachiopods (Shell fossils) as you walk around the gorge. If you look carefully, you will see specimens of the large European cave spiders (Meta menardi and Meta marianae). Despite their size, they are not dangerous.

Unlike normal gorges that you look up at, this is a cleft carved out of the limestone over thousands of years. Evidence of the thundering waters from the melting glaciers still can be seen at the entrance to Tom Taylors cave. You will be amazed when taking the winding paths around this special place looking at the flora & fauna and geological formations. How Stean Gorge has been classified as SSSi because of it’s limestone structures.

As you look at the stones in the beck at low water you will notice that some are black and wet and others are white and dry. The dark wet stones are sand stones and just as the sand on the beach absorbs water so do sandstone rocks. If you broke one in half it would be wet all the way through. The white ones are the limestone. This is a hard rock and water drys off it as it contains no water, break this and it is dry inside. This is why we have caves and gorges in limestone. Water soaks through sand and grit stone but can’t get through the lime so it has to find a way around the rock. 

By prior arrangement, a guide can be arranged to lead you through the visitor attraction, ensuring that you don’t miss any of the unusual features.

Fresh, homemade Yorkshire fare is served within the café. You can choose from an array of hot meals including an all day breakfast, lasagne, scampi, omelette or sausage, bacon, egg and chips.  We also have a choice a lighter snacks including jacket potatoes, baguettes, bacon butties or home made soup.  After a meal try one of our delicious desserts. The home made Pavalova has been a firm favourite for nearly 40 years now or try How Stean Gorge Ice Cream, made only ½ mile away in Lofthouse.  You can even see the cows that make it from the car park. Flavours include chocolate, vanilla and fruits of the forest.

We also have a selection of irresistible home made cakes. The summer opening hours for the café are 10am – 6pm. Last orders for food are taken at 5pm however, we can take group bookings for 10 + people for early evening meals if booked in advance. 

Eat, drink and be merry on our sun terrace. There is a children’s play area directly adjacent the cafe making it an ideal location to have that well deserved treat whilst being able to watch the children play.

How Stean Gorge is geographically unique, as it’s one of the only places in the UK where you can comfortably enjoy both rocksports and paddlesports in a single day.  We have exciting half, full and weekend packages available. Choose from Abseiling and Gorge Walking, the Via Ferrata – High Wire Adventure Course (one of only 2 in England), Caving, Canoeing, Kayaking and Rock climbing. Booking is essential as all these activities are led by our expert team of instructors.  Height restrictions apply to the via ferrata – high wire adventure course so if you are 1m 43 cm (4 feet 6 inches) or taller you’ll be able to do the newly extended course.

Relax on our 3 star campsite amid stunning scenery. We have 30 tent pitches (and tents for hire if you don’t have one) and with lots of space for children to play games!   If a night under canvas isn’t your thing, we have a bunkhouse and bunk barn available too. Campfires are allowed and fire pits are available free of charge subject to availability so you can toast your marshmallows to your hearts content! 


Opening Times

* Open all year
CLOSED Pateley Show Day 23rd Monday September
CLOSED Christmas Eve
CLOSED Christmas Day
Open New Year

Last admission 5pm (Summer), 3pm (Winter) The Gorge is very sheltered and can be enjoyed year round with the changing seasons. In many ways it is at its most impressive during the winter when there is more water around and the gorge is teeming with icicles. Open 7 days a week.

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