The Brimham Rocks is a spectacular array of gritstone rock formations found in the Nidderdale AONB in North Yorkshire. There are various splendid walks that explore the Brimham Rocks. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Brimham Rocks and the walks in this area. Personally, we did the Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk. So, we’ll talk about this walk in detail. But, for completeness, we’ll discuss all of the brilliant Brimham Rocks walks to choose from.
Table of Contents
About Brimham Rocks
Brimham Rocks is an awesome gritstone rock playground. Once known as Brimham Crags, the rocks were formed over 325 million years ago. As a result of natural erosion, the rocks have assumed unique and interesting shapes. There’s even a famous oak tree growing out of one of the rocks! The 454-acre area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Geological Conservation Review (GCR) site.
As mentioned, there are many short walks you can do to discover these epic rocks. Let’s look at the three main walks below.
The Main Brimham Rocks Walks
The most popular walk to discover these rocks is the appropriately named Brimham Rocks Walk, which is also known as the Brimham Rocks Circular Walk and the Blue Path. By doing this short circuit, you’ll see all of the main highlights at Brimham Rocks.
The other two main walks are the Brimham Moorland Walk (Purple Path) and the Brimham Woodland Walk (Orange Path).
- The Moorland Walk explores Brimham Moor, which is east of the Brimham Rocks. This walk also takes in one additional rock formation called Mushroom Rock.
- The Woodland Walk takes you through the wooded area just west of the Brimham Rocks. By doing this walk, you won’t explore any additional rock formations. But, you’ll get to see serene woods and enjoy a different perspective of some of the rocks, which prominently stand on the western parameter.
Personally, Beck and I combined the Brimham Rock Walk with the Moorland Walk. Ipso facto, we did the Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk. We thoroughly enjoyed this walk and can highly recommend it. Before we describe this combined trail walk in detail, let’s look at some other lesser-known and longer walking options for exploring the rocks.
Other Brimham Rocks Walks
There are longer Brimham walks which include visiting the amazing Brimham Rocks. Let’s look at these three other lesser-known walking options. For each walk, we’ve added a link to a map, which includes trail specs.
- Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey Walk (Monk’s Trail): you’ll follow in the footsteps of the Cistercian monks, who followed this trail centuries ago. It’s a one-way walk from the Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey.
- Pateley Bridge to Brimham Rocks: this Pateley Bridge walk is a roughly 14km circular route that explores more of the surrounding Nidderdale AONB. FYI – this route can get awfully muddy!
- Nidderdale Way: this 85km (53 mile) multi-day walk (usually four days) includes a visit to the Brimham Rocks!
Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk
When it comes to circular walks around Brimham Rocks, we think the combined Rocks and Moorland Walk is a great option. Sure, most people will just do the short 2km circuit around the rocks. But, by adding on the Moorland Walk, you’ll get to see more of the surrounding area and even see an additional rock formation – Mushroom Walk.
Without further ado, let’s look at some trail specs for this combined walk.
Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk Stats
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 4km (2.5 miles)
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 60m
- Trailhead: National Trust Car Park
- Difficulty: Easy
- Grid Ref: SE 2060 6506
- Map: Wikiloc
The trail gently undulates throughout with around only 60 metres of accumulated elevation gain. Near the northern end of the site, you’ll reach around 300 metres above sea level.
Given the relatively short distance and time, and, minimal elevation gain, the Rocks and Moorland Walk is considered easy. In terms of trail navigation, there are only some challenging moments near the southern edge of the moor, just north of Brimham Moor Road. At this point of the walk, there were many different trails to choose from. So, trail navigation is just a little tricky around this section, as you try and navigate back to the Brimham Rocks Walk.
You’ll find the Brimham Rocks Walk follows a sturdy and well-defined path. The terrain of the Moorland Walk can get a little boggy after periods of heavy rain. You’ll also find some areas on the moors are mildly overgrown, so long trousers are ideal.
Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk Map
Below, you’ll find a map of the Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk in North Yorkshire. Feel free to click on the image below to access a GPS-guided map.
Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk Trail Description
In this trail description, we’ll talk about the highlights of the Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk in North Yorkshire.
Brimham Rocks and Moorland Walk Starting Point
You’ll start the walk from the National Trust Car Park. Parking is free for National Trust members. Otherwise, parking is fairly steep at the National Trust pay and display car park. You’re looking at approx. £6.50 for fours hours or £10 for the day. Certainly, four hours of parking will suffice. FYI – only coins are accepted!
If you arrive early enough, you may be able to find free street-side parking here on Brimham Moor Road. But, there are only a few spots available. From there, you can join the Moorland Walk trail.
From the car park, there are two trails leading to the main area of the rocks. There’s a well-defined straight path that leads directly towards the rocks. There’s also another woodland trail, to the left, that meanders and weaves through the woodlands. Personally, we took this woodland trail and were happy we did. The trail winds its way through interesting boulders and rock formations, before arriving at the main area.
To be honest, we almost felt overwhelmed by the time we reached the main area at Brimham Rocks. That’s because there were so many awesome rock formations, that we didn’t know where to start exploring! Basically, there’s no right or wrong. Just explore at your own pace. Beck and I arrived in time for sunrise. Indeed, it was a special moment to watch the sun rise and poke through the various unique rock formations.
Brimham Rocks Attractions
When you visit, you’ll find signs, which are numbered and labelled to show you the main attractions. Here’s a rundown of the main attractions you’ll see along the Brimham Rocks Walk in North Yorkshire.
- 1. Car Park
- 2. Surprise View
- 3. Cannon Rocks
- 4. Blacksmith’s Anvil
- 5. Smartie Tube
- 6. Watchdog
- 7. Lovers’ Leap
- 8. Eagle
- 9. Castle Rocks
- 10. Visitor Centre and Shop
- 11. Dancing Bear
- 12. Druid’s Writing Desk
- 13. Idol
- 14. Yoke of Oxen and Baboon
- 15. Rocking Stones
- 16. Oyster Shell
- 17. Flowerpot
- 18. Mushroom Rock
- 19. Middle Crags
Perhaps, the most famous rocks are Druid’s Writing Desk and the seemingly impossible balancing rocks of Idol. Personally, Beck and I really enjoyed exploring Castle Rocks and the Middle Crags.
Once you’ve scoped out all of the mind-blowing rock formations, it’s then time to continue towards Brimham Moor. If you can time your visit in late summer, the moorlands will be covered in a purple heather blanket. Certainly, this would make a great time to visit. Otherwise, the windswept and wild moorlands are still great to visit any time of year. Of course, be prepared for boggier conditions in winter.
As mentioned previously, one of the benefits of doing the additional Moorland Walk is the chance to see one standalone rock formation. Mushroom Rock stands isolated in the northeast corner of the moors. Only those who take on the Moorland Walk will have the pleasure of exploring this additional breathtaking rock formation.
Essentially, the Moorland Walk loops around the relatively small moorland area. Eventually, you’ll re-join the Brimham Rocks Walk, just west of the Middle Crags. From there, you’ll head south back to the car park to complete the walk.
How to Get to Brimham Rocks
The easiest and quickest way to get to Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
As far as we’re aware, public transportation doesn’t go to the Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire. Although, it’s possible to get a bus to the nearby Summerbridge and then either catch a taxi or walk around 3.2km (2 miles) to reach the site.
Personally, we don’t recommend using public transport as you’ll likely have a long-winded journey to get there. Certainly, it’s best to drive there yourself.
Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.
Brimham Rocks Weather
For the latest weather updates, we recommend checking out the Harrogate weather forecast on Met Office.
Where to Eat
There’s a small cafe at the Brimham Rocks visitor centre. Otherwise, if you’re after something a little more substantial, you’ll find a few pubs in the surrounding areas of Summerbridge and Pateley Bridge.
Nearby Walks in the Yorkshire Dales
Although Brimham Rocks is located in the Nidderdale AONB, the site is basically on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ve listed some of the other best walks near Brimham Rocks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
- Simon’s Seat and Valley of Desolation: a fantastic circular walk exploring Simon’s Seat, the Valley of Desolation and the Bolton Abbey Waterfall.
- Bolton Abbey Walk: find The Strid along the River Wharfe as well as many other attractions.
- Conistone Pie and Dib: an underrated short circular walk exploring Yorkshire’s fine limestone landscape.
- Flasby Fell: walk along a section of the Dales High Way during the walk to Flasby Fell.
- Embsay Crag and Reservoir: after walking by the Embsay Reservoir, you’ll climb up to Embsay Crag.
- Grimwith Reservoir Circular Walk: an easy circular walk around the popular Grimwith Reservoir.
- Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge: hike the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks, including Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.
- Malham Cove: explore the famous Malham Cove, Malham Tarn, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss during the Malham Cove Walk.
- Buckden Pike: take on one of the most well-known and beloved hikes in the Dales.
- Trollers Gill: located near Appletreewick, you’ll find a barely explored limestone gorge.
- Aysgarth Falls: scope out the truly spectacular Lower, Middle and Upper Aysgarth Falls.
- Cauldron Falls (West Burton Falls): a lesser-known waterfall that’s located near Aysgarth Falls.
- Ilkley Moor: visit the famous Cow and Calf Rocks at Ilkley Moor.
Explore More of Nidderdale AONB
There is also much else to explore in the breathtaking Nidderdale AONB. Below, we’ve listed some of the best attractions to visit in Nidderdale.
- Hackfall Woods
- Druid’s Temple
- Stump Cross Caverns
- How Stean Gorge
- Fewston Reservoir
- Swinsty Reservoir
- Swinton Estate
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Brimham Rocks and the walks that explore these rocks.
Do You Have to Pay at Brimham Rocks?
No, there’s no entry fee. You’ll just have to pay for parking if you’re not a National Trust Member.
Do You Have to Book to Go to Brimham Rocks?
Can You Climb Brimham Rocks?
Yes, you’ll often find rock climbers doing their thing at the site.
How Long Does it Take to Walk Around Brimham Rocks?
The standard 2km Brimham Rocks Walk only takes 30–60 minutes. Whilst, the combined Brimham Rocks and Moorland Rock described in this guide takes around 60–90 minutes.
These are our hiking gear essentials for walking in the Nidderdale AONB.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Other Yorkshire Dales Guides
Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales
- Grassington: Everything You Need to Know About Grassington
- Hawes: The 16 Best Things To Do In Hawes
- Ingleton: 10 Awesome Things To Do In Ingleton
- Masham: Everything You Need to Know About Masham
- Buckden: The 5 Best Things To Do In Buckden, Yorkshire
- Keld: The 5 Best Things To Do in Keld, North Yorkshire
- Clapham: The Top 13 Things To Do During A Visit to Clapham, Yorkshire
- Ribblehead: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Ribblehead
Bonus Navigation Tips and Other Recommendations
- Arrive early: it’s a popular destination, so make sure to beat the crowds and visit early.
- Plan beforehand: have a quick look at a map or do some research before arriving to know what you’re looking for. Otherwise, the rocks will lose meaning on you. But, of course, each to their own!
- Brimham Rocks dog walks: dog walking is allowed, but dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Explore other nearby national parks: don’t just stop at the Yorkshire Dales. Head to the beautiful Lake District (guides coming soon) or visit the underrated North York Moors National Park.
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