Upper Nidderdale

History and wildlife

Lead mine at Studfold

Upper Nidderdale is steeped in history. You’ll see lots of nature on our Adventure and Fairy Trail, fairies and pixies too! But look carefully and you’ll also see evidence of an iron age settlement, lead mines, a marble quarry and over 400 years of farming history.

Studfold and its surrounding Nidderdale land have been the subject of a nature and archaeology study project about its rich history and wildlife. There is an amazing array of wildlife in Nidderdale, supported by its diverse landscape, of high heather moorland, bog lands and hay meadows in the valleys.

Signs of bronze age and iron age settlements abound in Nidderdale. At Gouthwaite Reservoir, you can see evidence of enclosures and hut circles, as well as trackways, and at Ashfoldside Plantation, more hut circles, dry stone-walled folds and pens.  Roman lead ingots were found in the Greenhow area in the 1730s!

A protected landscape

One of the UK’s protected landscapes, Nidderdale has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). With some of the most breath-taking landscape in the country, Nidderdale is quite unique with its amazing range of character. From serene flat waters and effervescent rivers, to quaint, patchwork green hills and wild, open moorland, it’s an especially satisfying landscape to explore.

Did you know Nidderdale’s night skies are classed as some of the darkest in England? Because of the large expanses of moorland and remote villages, light pollution is extremely low. Good news for star gazers! Bring your telescope!

Old stone barn at StudfoldA place for people to be people

The evidence of thousands of years of human settlement shapes Upper Nidderdale. If you have a need to feel connected to the past or nature, you can enjoy profound solitude up on the open, heather moorland. And you can also enjoy the welcoming villages, with friendly Yorkshire cafes, pubs and small shops.

From exploring and enjoying the charm of the picture-postcard clusters of soft-grey stone buildings, to getting away from it all on the moors and fells, there are so many opportunities to explore your interests. Relax and unwind, or follow your impulse to spend a day fishing, walking, bird-watching, or more energetic mountain biking, rock climbing or horse riding.

So much to see and do, or not!

There is so much to see, wonder at and explore in Upper Nidderdale that it’s no wonder people come back time and again during the holiday season. Studfold, and Nidderdale, are central for uncovering the delights of the other Yorkshire Dales too, such as, Wensleydale, Swaledale and Wharfedale. But Nidderdale is perfect for relaxing too, and just soaking up the sights and sounds of the rolling green hills, tranquil waters and thriving wildlife. Upper Nidderdale is the perfect base for staying put and letting life go on around you, or exploring like mad!

Historical, cultural and entertainment options are nearby, with fantastic offerings, from museums, art galleries and heritage centres, to abbeys and castles. The Nidderdale Way is famous for walkers, a circular walk of over 50 miles through some of the most beautiful parts of the country. For fun, there’s lots to take the children to, including Lightwater Valley, Brimham Rocks and Stumpcross Caverns. Upper Nidderdale really does have it all. Please see more at Things to do for further details of what’s in and around our beautiful Yorkshire Dale.

Middlesmore, Upper Nidderdale