How Stean Gorge is a picturesque limestone gorge, where you can participate in some of the best adventure activities in the UK. Certainly, when it comes to outdoor adventures in the UK and places of interest near Harrogate, How Stean Gorge is at the top of the list. But, admittedly, these activities are a touch on the expensive side of things.
In this guide, we’ll tell you about all of the amazing activities you can do at How Stean Gorge. But, for those on a budget, we’ll reveal how to visit and enjoy the gorge without paying an obscene amount. Essentially, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about visiting How Stean Gorge so you can plan one of the best days out in the Yorkshire Dales.
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About How Stean Gorge
How Stean Gorge is a 20 metre deep limestone gorge with immense natural beauty. It’s by no coincidence that the gorge has been a tourist attraction since 1869. Indeed, visiting gorges and caves was quite the thing to do during Victorian times.
The gorge features paths, bridges, tunnels and caves, which are possible to explore by doing the How Stean Gorge Walk. Whilst, there are plenty of adventure activities to do such as caving, body rafting, canoeing, abseiling, rock climbing and high wiring (How Stean Gorge via Ferrata). As you can imagine, the gorge offers some of the best adventures in Yorkshire. Indeed, the gorge is one of the best places to visit in the Yorkshire Dales.
Before we dive into details about the gorge walk and adventure activities on-site, let’s look at exactly where the gorge is located.
Where Is How Stean Gorge?
The gorge is located in the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) [guide coming soon] in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in North Yorkshire. Some people have called the gorge one of Harrogate’s best places of interest, given its relatively close proximity to the charming spa town.
To help you get your bearings, please click on the link below to access an interactive map of the area.
Best Things to Do at How Stean Gorge
There are plenty of awesome things to do at How Stean Gorge. Below, we’ll go through a list of the main activities on offer at the gorge.
How Stean Gorge Activities
The most popular activity to do at the gorge is the How Stean Gorge Walk (AKA the Nidderdale Gorge Walk). This is the most budget-friendly way to visit the gorge. You’ll pay £7 per adult (£5 per child) and simply self-explore the gorge, following a guide map. Personally, that’s what Beck and I did (and our respective twins who were also with us on the day). For more information about the gorge walk, please read below.
Otherwise, the site offers a bunch of adrenaline-inducing activities. Indeed, if you’re after an adventure in Yorkshire, look no further than How Stean Gorge. Below, is a list of the main activities you can do at the gorge.
- Gorge walking and ghyll scrambling: please note this is different from the Gorge Walk. The actual activity of ‘gorge walking and ghyll scrambling’ involves being kitted in safety equipment (including a wetsuit) and then abseiling, canyoning, body rafting and river trekking. In comparison, the Gorge Walk simply follows river-side trails in the gorge.
- Rock Climbing
- Via Ferrata High Wiring
There are also combined packages, such as the How Stean Experience and The Big 5 Activities, which offer a combination of these main activities.
Of course, all of these amazing activities aren’t cheap. Personally, we think the activities are considerably overpriced. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the sublime gorge. Simply visit and do the Gorge Walk without doing any additional expensive activities. That way, you can experience the beauty of the gorge at an affordable price.
Truth be told, even £7 per adult is a tad steep for exploring a roughly 1km long gorge. But, in reality, it’s the cheapest way to visit the gorge. With this in mind, let’s talk about the Gorge Walk below.
How Stean Gorge Walk
After paying for admission at the visitor centre, you’ll head to the gorge entrance. You’ll pick up a helmet at the entrance and then enter via a gate. You’ll soon begin walking down to the edge of the spectacular gorge. During the walk, it’s possible to do some orienteering using the numbers displayed on the guide map given at the visitor centre (see below).
The general recommendation for the Gorge Walk is to follow the trail left to the end of the trail (walk from no. 5 to no. 1). Then, retrace your steps and walk all the way to the other end (walk from no. 1 to no. 10). Afterwards, retrace some of your steps and then exit via Tom Taylors Cave (walk from no. 10 to no.8 and then to no.6). You can then easily follow a path back to the gorge entrance to return your helmet.
During the early stages of the walk, you’ll walk parallel to the gorge’s river, looking down at the quaint stream. Soon enough, you’ll pass several side trails leading down to the river’s edge. We highly recommend taking all the available trails to make the most of your visit. That way, you’ll get the best bang for buck, and, you’ll get to truly immerse yourself in the beautiful gorge.
As mentioned, nearing the end of the walk, you’ll reach Tom Taylors Cave.
Tom Taylors Cave
Undoubtedly, Tom Taylors Cave is one of the highlights of the How Stean Gorge Walk. Make sure to pack a headtorch as it’s pitch black inside the cave. The underground passageway is certainly fun to explore. After weaving and ducking inside the cave, the passageway considerably narrows near the exit. After squeezing yourself out of the cave, you’ll climb up and out of the gorge.
You’ll then return your helmet, completing the Gorge Walk!
Facilities at How Stean Gorge
There are excellent facilities at the gorge. At the visitor centre, you’ll find the How Stean Gorge Cafe. The cafe has a decent menu, offering an array of food and drinks. You’ll also find a gift shop and toilets at the visitor centre.
How Stean Gorge Campsite
If you’re interested in a bit of How Stean Gorge camping, then it’s possible to stay at the site’s campsite. The How Stean Gorge Campsite is an excellent campground serenely located next to the gorge. Featuring 20 large pitches, a facilities block and use of the How Stean Gorge Cafe, you’ll have everything you need for a pleasant stay at the campsite. Head to the official How Stean Gorge website to make a booking.
How Stean Gorge Lodges
There are other accommodation options available at the gorge. The How Stean Gorge Lodges offer lovely rustic lodges next to the gorge. Some of the lodges even have hot tubs! With parking available outside your lodge, visiting is very convenient.
How to Get to How Stean Gorge
The quickest and easiest way to get to How Stean Gorge is to drive there yourself. There is free parking on-site.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Discover Cars for very reasonable prices. Also, the website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy. Have a look at car hire from Manchester.
Although it’s possible to get to the gorge using public transport, we don’t recommend it. Depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you’ll likely have a slow and tedious journey to get there. Additionally, buses to Lofthouse, near the gorge, often only run a limited number of times on the weekend. So, public transport is an unreliable and unideal option.
Other Gorges and Caves in the Yorkshire Dales
How Stean Gorge is a stunning gorge, but it isn’t even the most outstanding gorge in Yorkshire! Personally, we think Gordale Scar, near Janet’s Foss and Malham Cove, is the best gorge in the Yorkshire Dales. Certainly, there are plenty of epic gorges and caves to see in the Dales. Let’s look at some of the best gorges and caves to explore in the area.
- Gordale Scar: featuring mind-blowing waterfalls, Gordale Scar is an epic gorge to explore during the Malham Cove Walk.
- Trollers Gill: at this lesser-known limestone ravine, near Appletreewick, you’ll find several caves to explore.
- Baxenghyll Gorge: you’ll find this waterfall-filled gorge on the Ingleton Waterfalls Falls Trail.
- White Scar Cave: located between Ingleton and Ribblehead, White Scar Cave is our favourite show cave in the Yorkshire Dales.
- Ingleborough Cave: another fascinating show cave. It’s possible to see Ingleborough Cave during the Ingleborough Walk from Clapham.
- Gaping Gill: this incredible cave has the largest cavern and underground waterfall in the UK. You can actually be winched down into the cave!
- Yordas Cave: found near Ingleton, this is a former Victorian show cave that also features a hidden waterfall.
- Settle Walk: during this walk (AKA Settle Caves and Waterfalls Walk), you’ll visit Jubilee and Victoria caves as well as Attermire Scar.
Things to Do Nearby in Nidderdale AONB
There are many other worthwhile places to see and things to do in the Nidderdale AONB. Let’s look at some of the best attractions in the area, so you know what to do in Nidderdale, Yorkshire, after visiting How Stean Gorge.
- Brimham Rocks: a mesmerising area of uniquely shaped gritstone rock formations.
- Stump Cross Caverns: one of the most famous show caves in the UK.
- Swinsty Reservoir and Fewston Reservoir: these reservoirs possess a beautiful natural setting.
- Swinton Estate: whether you’re staying at this luxury castle hotel (Swinton Park Hotel) or just visiting the gardens on a day trip, add Swinton Estate to your Nidderdale to-do list.
- Druid’s Temple: located on Swinton Estate, the Druid’s Temple is a modern folly built in the 1820s that was inspired by Stonehenge.
- Hackfall Woods: gorgeous woodlands with plenty of natural and historical attractions.
- Yorkes Folly: one of the best walks in Pateley Bridge. Certainly, visiting Yorkes Folly is one of the best things to do in Pateley Bridge.
- Masham: known as the ‘Gateway to the Dales’, this vibrant and beautiful town is certainly worth a visit.
Read more: Nidderdale AONB Guide (coming soon)
What to Wear and Pack
Below, you’ll find our gear essentials for exploring the gorge.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: waterproof shoes with good traction are ideal when exploring around the slippery gorge floor.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: if you’re visiting in winter, you’ll likely need some warm layers!
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket, just in case.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
- Headtorch: you’ll need one inside Tom Taylors Cave.
Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about How Stean Gorge.
What Are the Main Things to Do?
The most popular thing to do is the How Stean Gorge Walk. Otherwise, the main adventure activities include caving, body rafting, abseiling, high wiring, canoeing and rock climbing.
What Are the Ticket Prices?
The admission fee for the gorge is £7 per adult, £6 per concession and £5 per child.
When Is How Stean Gorge Open?
The caves are open daily from 9am to 5pm.
Is There Parking?
Yes, there is ample free parking on-site.
Are There Toilets Available?
Yes, there are toilets at the visitor centre.
Are There Food and Drinks Available?
Yes, the How Stean Gorge Cafe has a good menu, so there is plenty of yummy food and drinks on offer on-site.
Is How Stean Gorge Wheelchair Friendly?
Everywhere at the cafe, visitor centre and gift shop is wheelchair accessible. But, the gorge itself isn’t wheelchair friendly.
Is How Stean Gorge Dog Friendly?
Under control, dogs are allowed in the gorge.
Who Owns How Stean Gorge?
Since 2022, the new owners are Tony Liddy and his partner Rebecca Verity.
- Longer How Stean Gorge walks: there are public footpaths around the gorge, so it’s common for people to extend a gorge walk to explore more of the area. You’ll find some extended trails to Middlesmoor here and to Middlesmoor and Lofthouse here. These extended walks aren’t advertised or specifically recommended. Personally, we explored the gorge alone without doing any extra walking around the gorge itself.
- Adrenalin North Yorkshire Ltd: if you’re looking for other activity centres in Yorkshire or adventure activities near York, consider visiting Adrenalin North Yorkshire Ltd.
- Other Harrogate activities: there are plenty of great things to do in the lovely spa town. One of the best activities is the Harrogate Food Tour!
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