The grand finale of this walk is acted out on the edge of Brimham moor by the monolithic sculptures of Brimham Rocks but it is well worth taking in the earlier acts of the escarpment and woodland valley first.
Parking, more easy than west end theatres, adjacent to the main stage and hosted by the National Trust. There are several routes wandering down the escarpment, but exit stage left and take the Nidderdale Way, in a westerly direction at first. There are occasional boulders dotted about. They quickly become shrouded in moss and punctuated by trees as the escarpment gently drops towards Glasshouses and the Nidd. For a good view over the river and across Nidderdale take a detour towards Low Laithe around a spur of the escarpment.
The woodland here was bristling with blue bell leaves. We were just a week or so too early.
Still following the Nidderdale Way, swing back north, almost along the bottom of the escarpment, back towards Smelthouses. Rich, deciduous woodland lines the small river valley belonging to Fell Beck. The steep valley sides indicating there was once a much greater force of nature in occupation.
More recent industrial history is scattered amongst the trees. Old smelt houses and lead mines now decorated in green. The beck obviously redirected, with dams, weirs and pools frequent along it.
The Nidderdale Way heads back to the main valley across an ancient ford, but the route back to Brimham continues north along Fell Beck until you reach an old walled lane, just beyond Pencil Dike. When it emerges into pasture follow your nose south eastish towards Brimham Rocks, now visible above the woodland.
So to the grand finale. The open moor of Brimham hosts this amazing theatre created by ice and weather. Rocks dropped on to rocks. Word and weathered by ice, wind and rain. independent monoliths or grouped together like haggling witches and warlocks. No surprise it was once thought to have magical powers. Its now National Trust land and you can wander at will among the rocks. Even climb them. It was refreshing not to see signs, warnings and ropes on what, at times resembled a set more awesome than Disney could create.
You will find Brimham Rocks at SE 208 645.
A detailed description of the route from Cicerone here.
OS Map Explorer 298
More photos here, and check my posts for other walks round Nidderdale.