The concept of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty was first considered in the late 1940’s along with the formation of the National Parks. Unfortunately it took until 1994 before the Nidderdale area was given its rightful designation but the landscape is still as majestic now as it was then. The designation is only given to ‘precious landscapes with distinctive character and natural beauty’ which need to be protected and sustained for future generations.
The Nidderdale AONB is one of only 35 in England and covers an area of 233 square miles in North Yorkshire. To the north and west it bounds the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the high Pennine fells and to the south it follows the River Wharfe to pass north of Ilkley and Otley. To the east it skirts the townships of Masham and Ripon but includes the World Heritage Sites of Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey.
It is a varied landscape centred on Nidderdale which runs from the remote moorland of Great Whernside in the Pennines to the rich pastoral land on the edge of the Vale of York.
Wonder at the natural rock features as diverse as the cave formations at Stump Cross Caverns, the fantastic shapes of Brimham Rocks and deep narrows of How Stean Gorge as well as the many crags and rocky escarpments. Enjoy the eleven reservoirs which form large artificial lakes that support tumults of water fowl and other wild life as well as providing leisure through fishing and water-sports. Idle by upland streams and clear waterfalls. Follow some of the extensive footpaths which lead through dale and vale linking secluded villages, continue through broadleaf woodland or traverse the wild moors bringing the landscape and its nature closer with every step. In the evenings enjoy the good food, good ale and general banter in a local pub or enjoy one of the many superb restaurants to be found close at hand.
Have fun, relax, breathe the fresh clean air, be awed by the timeless beauty, feel moved and refreshed by the experience but most of all enjoy it!