The Norber Erratics are a mindblowing natural attraction found near the pretty village of Austwick in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. On a hill, known as Norber, you’ll find huge sandstone boulders (called erratics) precariously balanced on tiny limestone rocks. It’s truly a sight to behold. Surprisingly, this natural wonder remains largely unknown to the public. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting the fascinating Norber Erratics, including details about the walk that you’ll need to do from Austwick to reach them.
If you love your rocks and geological wonders, you’ll also want to check out Brimham Rocks in the nearby Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (guide coming soon)!
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What Are the Norber Erratics?
The Norber Erratics are one of the most awe-inspiring places to visit in the Yorkshire Dales. Indeed, when it comes to natural attractions in the area, the Norbr Erratics rank as one of the best. But, it’s the history and geological process of this natural site that’s just as fascinating as the aesthetically pleasing physical structures that we see today.
During the last Ice Age (approx. 12,000–17,000 years ago), large glaciers (sheets of ice), holding boulders within them, flowed and moved across the land. By definition, rocks that have been transported by ice and deposited elsewhere, are known as erratics or glacial erratics or erratic boulders.
In the case of the Norber Erratics, the boulders were massive blocks of Silurian rock, which is a type of sandstone. Once the glacier had flowed south down the dale called Crummackdale, it settled on the hill, known as Norber, an area technically known as the Thwaite Scars, which sits on the southern slopes of Ingleborough.
The glacier then melted, depositing the sandstone boulders, on top of the existing limestone rocks. Many of these sandstone boulders were left precariously balanced on the underlying limestone rocks. This is the natural spectacle that you can see today by doing the Norber Erratics Walk from Austwick. Beck and I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and will talk about it in more depth later in this guide.
Interestingly, the existing limestone is part of the Great Scar Limestone Group in the Yorkshire Dales, which formed some 350 million years ago, during the Carboniferous Period.
FYI – the Norber Erratics are also known as the Norber Boulders and Norber Oddities.
Where Are the Norber Erratics?
The Norber Erratics are found in the southwest corner of the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire in the northwest of England. To help you get your bearings, please click on the link below to access an interactive map of the area.
Norber Erratics Walk From Austwick: Route Information
Starting in the quaint village of Austwick, you can do a pleasant short walk to reach the impressive Norber Erratics. Below, you’ll find the trail specs and a link to a GPS-guided map.
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 4.3km (2.7 miles)
- Time: 1.5–2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 150m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Austwick
- Map: Wikiloc
Norber Erratics Walk From Austwick: Highlights
The walk from Austwick to the Norber Erratics is the most straightforward and convenient way to see this natural wonder. Below, we’ll briefly detail the Norber Erratic Walk from Austwick.
Starting in Austwick
Austwick is a small picture postcard village, where you’ll start the walk. After finding free roadside parking (more details about parking here), you’ll head north up Townhead Lane, passing many gorgeous cottages. Soon, you’ll arrive at a T-junction. After turning left onto Thwaite Lane, you’ll soon arrive at a stone stile to your right. From this stile, you’ll follow a faint footpath over a field that leads towards Robin Proctor’s Scar – a prominent limestone feature.
The footpath along the field is quite flat; but, soon, you’ll arrive at a hill, which is known as Norber. To reach the Norber Erratics, you’ll need to climb this steep slope of the hill.
Exploring the Glacial Erratic Rocks
After climbing the steep hill, the terrain eventually flattens. Looking back towards Austwick, you’ll enjoy fine views of the village and the surrounding landscape. Atop the hill, in an area known as Thwaite Scars, you’ll wander past many large boulders and areas of limestone pavement.
Although there are faint trails to follow, it’s at this point of the walk, that you’ll go rogue, as you explore the varying fascinating Norber Erratics. There are over 100 of these sandstone boulders scattered across the limestone area. It’ll take a little exploration and wandering to find some of the most uniquely placed erratics. Some of the large glacial boulders are shockingly and unbelievably balanced on relatively small limestone pedestals. The erratics seem to defy logic and physics.
After scoping out as many of the incredible erratics as possible, it’ll come a time to return to Austwick to complete the walk.
To arrive back at Austwick, you essentially have three options. You can simply retrace your steps to return to Austwick. If you’d prefer a circular walk, then you have two options. For both circular options, you’ll walk around the boulders in a clockwise direction. You’ll soon find a signpost, directing you towards Crummack. Follow this trail, heading east, passing an area of limestone known as the Nappa Scars. You’ll then reach Crummack Lane.
From there, you can follow Crummack Lane south to rejoin Townhead Lane, which leads you back to Austwick. Otherwise, you can follow a series of farmland trails, crossing the Norber Sike, which leads back to Austwick. Personally, we walked the latter option; and, this is the route of the GPS-guided map we’ve provided.
Things to Know About the Norber Erratics Walk
Now you know all about the phenomenal Norber Erratics Walk from Autwick. Below, we’ll talk about logistics and practical tips for visiting Austwick to do the walk to the Norber Erratics.
How to Get to the Norber Erratics
The quickest and easiest way to get to Austwick is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for reasonable prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.
Although it’s possible to get to Austwick 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, the frequency of buses can be quite limited, making public transport an unreliable option.
But, if public transport is your only option, you’ll want to get to Kirkby Lonsdale, Settle or Giggleswick. From either of these places, you can catch the 581 Craven Connection bus to Austwick.
We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey using public transport.
Norber Erratics Walk Parking
There is free roadside parking in Austwick. Personally, we parked here on Townhead Lane.
Other Great Attractions and Walks Nearby
Exploring the Norber Erratics from Austwick usually takes a couple of hours. There are plenty of other fantastic villages and amazing natural attractions to explore in the area to help fill out your day. Below, we’ve listed some of the best villages and attractions nearby.
- Clapham: just a short five-minute drive away is another beautiful village called Clapham. From Clapham, there are many natural attractions to explore. These include Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill.
- Ingleton (guide coming soon): northwest of both Clapham and Austwick, you’ll find a larger and more well-known village called Ingleton. Other than exploring the lovely village, you should explore Ingleton Falls, White Scar Caves and Yordas Cave.
- Ribblehead: in the tiny village and moorland area of Ribblehead, near Ingleton, you’ll want to check out the famous Ribblehead Viaduct.
Recommended Walks Nearby
When it comes to walks from Austwick village, the most popular option is the Norber Erratics Walk discussed in this guide. But, if you’d like to do a longer walk, then you’ll want to consider the Norber Erratics and Crummackdale Circular Walk. Starting from Austwick, you’ll follow the same route to arrive at the Norber Erratics. From there, you’ll continue further north to explore more of the limestone formations of Thwaite Scars and Crummackdale.
Otherwise, there are plenty of other great nearby walks, starting from nearby villages. Let’s look at some of these below.
- Malham Cove Walk: starting in the lovely village of Malham, you’ll explore the famous Malham Cove, Janets Foss and Gordale Scar.
- Settle Caves and Waterfalls Walk: starting in Settle, you’ll explore all of the major caves and waterfalls in the area.
- Ingleborough Walk: starting in Clapham, you’ll summit one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
- Whernside Walk: starting in Ribblehead, you’ll walk to Whernside, which is the highest peak in Yorkshire.
Where to Stay and Dine in Austwick
Despite being a small village, there are plenty of great accommodation options in Austwick. Below, we’ll talk about the best accommodation options.
- Mid-range – The Game Cock Inn: undoubtedly, The Game Cock Inn is the most popular accommodation option in Austwick. That’s partly because the country inn features lovely decor and has a fantastic restaurant on-site.
- Mid-range – The Traddock: the next best accommodation in Austwick is The Traddock. Indeed, this cosy hotel come highly-rated, given its brilliant location and award-winning restaurant on-site.
- Luxury – Five Star Cottage: if you’d prefer a holiday home for your stay in Austwick, then the Five Star Cottage will be a perfect choice.
FAQs and Norber Erratics Facts
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions (as well as some fun facts) about the Norber Erratics, near Austwick.
What Is An Example of a Glacial Erratic?
Certainly, the Norber Erratics are one of the best examples of glacial erratics in Britain.
What Are the Famous Erratics in the UK?
The Norber Erratics are considered the most famous erratics in the UK. Interestingly, there are other lesser-known erratics located elsewhere in the Yorkshire Dales.
How Are Erratics Formed?
Rocks that have been transported by a glacier and deposited elsewhere, are known as erratics. Essentially, they’re formed once the ice of the glacier melts and the rocks are left behind in a different area than where they were originally from.
Where Did the Norber Erratics Come From?
It’s unclear where exactly the erratics originated.
How Old Are the Norber Erratics?
Recent cosmogenic dating suggests that the erratics have been exposed for around 17,900 years, at around the time of the last Ice Age.
Below, you’ll find our gear essentials for doing the Norber Erratics Walk from Austwick.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll want comfortable yet durable walking boots when walking around limestone terrain.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket that’ll keep you dry.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for walking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: especially in winter, you’ll want some layers.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Find Out More: Bonus Tips
- Visit now: it’s only a matter of time until the Norber Erratics become a more popular attraction. Go and explore them now before they become more of a tourist hotspot.
- Spend time in Austwick after the walk: instead of rushing off to see other attractions in the Dales, why not spend more time in the lovely village of Austwick? Even if you don’t plan on spending the night, we recommend exploring the village and heading to The Game Cock Inn for a meal.
- Explore Yorkshire: other than having breathtaking natural attractions in the Yorkshire Dales, the county of Yorkshire has plenty to offer visitors. For instance, GetYourGuide offers brilliant canal tours, starting from Skipton.
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