Brimham Rocks are balancing rock formations on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire, England. The rocks stand at a height of nearly 30 feet in an area owned by the National Trust which is part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The site is open all year round; typically from 8 a.m. until dusk. Entry is free but car parking is charged for visitors who are not members of the National Trust.
There are many variations of rock formations, caused by Millstone Grit being eroded by water, glaciation and wind, some of which have formed amazing shapes. Many formations have been named, though imagination is required and the correct viewing angle is helpful. Examples include the Sphinx, the Watchdog, the Camel, the Turtle and the Dancing Bear. The area was recognized as being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1958.
Maria Edgeworth's novel Belinda uses Brimham Rocks as a setting of metaphorical balance and moral revelation to the 17-year-old protagonist Belinda Portman. The children's television programme Roger and the Rottentrolls was filmed at Brimham Rocks and the site also features in the Bee Gees' video 'You Win Again'. A scene of series six of Knightmare, another children's programme and adventure game show, saw Brimham Rocks used as a location although only used once. In June 2018 an act of vandalism caused a rock to fall from the top of one of the crags and damage the crag face.
Set high on the side of Nidderdale in North Yorkshire, Brimham Rocks provides an amazing outdoor experience for those looking for the freedom to explore. Whether you’re a walker, a climber, a nature lover, an artist or a family day-tripper there’s plenty to discover. From the spectacular rocks to the panoramic views, Brimham has enchanted visitors for hundreds of years with its unique and magical atmosphere.
A long time ago..... Picture Mount Everest; as crazy as it sounds, over 400 million years ago, a large mountain range just like the Himalayas stood not far from where Brimham now stands. Over time, powerful erosive forces slowly wore them away creating a river delta the size of Yorkshire. These sands were later compacted beginning the long process of shaping the rocks into their current forms.
The rocks today.
Fast forward millions of years; the rocks, newly exposed became prey to ice and sand-blasting winds, carving away at them, leaving behind the range of other-worldly shapes you see today. From the Smartie Tube, Castle Rock, to the Druid’s Writing Desk and the Idol, the rocks now fascinate and inspire thousands of people every year. Borrow a lanyard pack from the National Trust welcome cabin, join one of their geology walks or check their ‘Geology of Brimham’ leaflet to find out more. If you’re interested in climbing the rocks, why not book onto one of their frequent Outdoor Days, run throughout the year by Harrogate Climbing Centre.
Brimham Moor is an important heather moorland habitat. It is classified as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to its globally significant plant life. Managing the moorland is a full-time job for their team of rangers to conserve the three varieties of heather found here. Looking forward they are seeking to introduce cattle to parts of the moorland to assist in controlling the birch which threatens this rare habitat and the wildlife that lives here.
People have been drawn to Brimham for well over 200 years by the bizarre rocks. In the mid-18th century it was declared that the rocks had been made by druids. Myths and legends such as this made Brimham a popular destination for Victorians, particularly with the arrival of the railways. Refreshments were available from Brimham House which had been built by Lord Grantley in 1792 for the ‘accommodation of strangers’. Various other buildings came and went through the 20th century until the National Trust took over in 1970. Monthly Brimham through the ages walks can give you further insight into the site’s history.
** – Brimham Boundary Walk – **
This walk takes you around much of the boundary of Brimham Rocks with beautiful panoramic views. Classified as Easy, this walk should take between one hour 30 minutes and two hours. It is three and a half miles long. There are toilets and dogs are welcome, but must be kept on leads where cattle and sheep are grazing.
Start: Brimham Rocks car park.
1. From the Brimham Rocks car park, down the road you came in on, but before reaching the public road turn right down the track marked Private Road to Druids Cave farm. After about 60m - and just before the track passes between a gap in a wall with a National Trust boundary marker - there’s a footpath to your left. Take this path and then the right fork, and continue keeping the wall just on your right. In about 350m the ground will dip down sharply to a farm track with a gate to your right. Turn left here to the road about 30 paces away.
2. Across the road a little to the left is a large rock, and to the left of that is a footpath. Follow the path for about 125m and continue straight on where another path forks to the left. The track then becomes narrow and rutted in places, watch out that you don’t twist an ankle. About 650m from the road you’ll reach a larger path with a public footpath marker post, turn right here. You are now on the Nidderdale Way. After about 400m you’ll pass through a copse of Silver Birch trees. Emerging from the copse you’ll see a gate, a stile, and the National Trust Boundary marker.
3. About 10m before the gate and stile take the path to the left slightly downhill. When you reach a wall - which is the boundary of the National Trust - in a small copse of Silver Birch, follow the path to the left. In about 25 paces cross the bridge over a spring, then another 15 steps further on the path swings left. Follow the path across a gulley on a duckboard bridge, the path then turns sharp right. Follow the gently rising path through Silver Birches and on to the open heather and bracken moorland. The wall you can see a couple of hundred metres to your right marks the National Trust Brimham Rocks boundary. You can now also see Brimham Rocks ahead, and in another 400m or so you’ll reach the public road that runs right through the property, to your sharp right there’s concrete track marked private.
4. Take the sharp right concrete track marked private and follow it for about 220m, then on your left take the footpath over a small bridge. Follow the path for about 300m to the road. Turn right on the road and stay on it for about 550m, then where the road turns sharp right take the farm track on your left signposted Private Road and Public Footpath, and a small sign post marked “The Barn”. Stay on the farm track for about 750m to a stile on the left a little before a gate into the farm straight ahead.
5. Climb over the stile and after a few paces you’ll see three paths. One by the wall on your left, another by the wall on your right, but take the middle path leading diagonally up the rising ground towards the Silver Birch wood that can be seen ahead. The path takes you into the wood and climbs in a somewhat zig-zag fashion into the rocks and ferns of Brimham. When you reach a main path turn right. (You are close by the Idol and the Druid’s Writing Desk, both of which are well worth a look.) Keep on the path passing behind the visitor centre on your left. When you reach the road coming down from behind the visitor centre, follow it as it bends sharp left. At a stone gulley which crosses the road just by the corner of the dry stone wall in front of the visitor centre, at a right angle to your right you’ll see a grassy path leading downhill.
6. Take the grassy path, and in about 120 paces shortly after a slight bend to the left, turn sharp right by some small rocks. After another 50 paces or so there are three paths heading downwards. Take the middle path through Silver Birch and Rowan trees to reach a farm track. Turn left along the farm track and in about 550m you’ll reach the Brimham Rocks entrance road which you can follow back to the car park. Finished! Head up to the visitor centre for a refreshing drink and snack.
End: Brimham Rocks car park. You made it
** – Visiting – **
With 400 acres of moorland and rocks to explore, there are plenty of activities for families and adventurers of all ages to keep themselves occupied. Read on to assist you in planning your visit to this wondrous place, to check up on the facilities and take note of what not to miss. The countryside is open from dawn until dusk. The National Trust refreshment kiosk, shop and visitor centre are currently only open during weekends from 11am until 4pm. They do occasionally close these early due to inclement weather.
Cars: £6 for 4 hours or £9 per day.
Minibuses and motorhomes (6 metres and over): £12.
Motor cycles and blue badge holders: Free.
National Trust members: Free. (Please scan your membership card at one of their car park machines.)
Although they do charge for parking the good news is that they don’t charge for admission so you only pay per vehicle so that helps to keep your costs down. Please note that all minibuses and coaches must book in with us at least 7 days prior to arrival. Call 01423 780688 to book.
If you’re a National Trust Scotland member, you also get free parking. Instead of scanning your membership card though, leave it in an observable place on your dashboard. However make sure that every member on your membership brings their card along. Unfortunately we don’t have access to the National Trust Scotland database to check your membership so if you don't bring your card you'll be asked to pay a parking charge.
Click here to view a copy of their site map
Many visitors come to Brimham to climb the rocks. Some to tick off number 46 on their list of 50 Things to do before you’re 11¾. Although it can be good fun for many, it’s important to consider the risks before you climb. If you are new to climbing or are unsure of what you are doing it’s good advice to research and learn before you do anything else. Visit the British Mountaineering Council website for more information. At Brimham Rocks it’s your responsibility to look after your party when climbing.
If you get into trouble and need first aid support, the NT team are there to help you. Staff are equipped with radios and have experience assisting in climbing incidents. Staff locations include the refreshment kiosk, shop, Brimham House and the car park. Alternatively call them on 01423 780688. The phones are usually manned between 9am and 5pm.
There are plenty of things to see and do here for people of all ages and interests. For those of you who’ve never visited before check out their Best of Brimham page to find out what not to miss. If that is not enough we also have a variety of events running throughout the year. Visit their What's On page for further details.
With Brimham being a place with uneven terrain, it would be easy to think they are off limits to those with mobility challenges. However it’s important to them that everyone feels welcome at Brimham Rocks. Firstly, blue badge holders get free parking. Once you’ve left your car they have a Tramper, a rugged mobility scooter, that you can hire free of charge. Please note this is only available during main facilities opening times and they ask that you return it by 3pm. Call them on 01423 780688 to book it or to discuss your accessibility requirements and they will do their best to assist you.
Brimham Rocks is 10 miles from both Harrogate and Ripon, just outside the market town of Pateley Bridge. As they are in a remote location accessing Brimham by public transport can vary from season to season. The closest railway station is Harrogate and Harrogate bus service, number 24, stops at Summerbridge leaving you a 1.5 mile walk to us, partly uphill. Local taxis based in Summerbridge, Ripon and Harrogate also come as far as Brimham.
If you’re feeling peckish why not stop by their kiosk for a Voaxes pie or a cup of tea to keep you going. You could also treat yourself to a scrummy Yorkshire Dales ice cream.
Dogs are very welcome at Brimham and many visitors bring their dogs for walkies around the rocks. The NT kindly ask that dogs are kept on leads at all times and that dog waste is either taken home or placed in their dog bins.
The closest National Trust neighbour is Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal which they would highly recommend for a visit. However as they are on the edge of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty they would definitely recommend you check out their website and Visit Nidderdale for other exciting adventures to take part in close by.
** – Facilities – **
• BBQs, gas burners and open fires are not permitted at Brimham Rocks and surrounding 400 acre moorland.
• For the enjoyment of every visitor thank you for keeping your dogs on leads all year round.
• Groups welcome - contact them before your visit, booking essential. Coach and minibus drop-off not permitted.
• For professional photography and filming please contact the office on 01423 780688.
• Drones are not permitted at Brimham Rocks. Much of our land is open access we cannot guarantee an area, even if remote, is completely empty.
• Excellent range of Yorkshire products for sale in their shop.
• Great value picnic food and ice cream at refreshment kiosk.
• Toilets are open 8am-5.30pm daily.
• Baby-changing facilities.
• Brimham Rocks and children's trikes do not go together. Weaselling, scrambling and playing hide-and-seek provide fun for all day long..
• Toilets and catering facilities are located 550 metres from the car park (5-10 mins walk).
• Accessible toilet located behind refreshments kiosk.
• Induction Loop.
• Parking drop-off point.
• A mobility scooter is available to hire free of charge for the day - please call 01423 780688 to book. Please note this is only during main facilities opening times and the tramper should be returned to the car park team by 3pm.
• Accessible recycled resin bonded pathways suitable for wheelchairs and site mobility scooter.
• To read the National Trust full access statement (PDF) click here.
Location : Brimhall Rocks, Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4DW
Transport: Harrogate (National Rail) then bus (24) or taxi 10 miles. Bus: Number 24 - see above.
Opening Times : Daily, Dawn till Dusk.
Opening Times Restaurant, Shop: see above
Tickets: Free. Parking see above.
Tel: 01423 780 688