This attraction carries a SEVERE CHILD WARNING: if you are not the keeper of young children, or feel distressed or intimidated by the presence of hoards of loud, scurrying, sometimes barging, and seemingly unsupervised small humans, DO NOT visit Brimham Rocks during the school holidays.
Brimham Rocks is an area of often curiously eroded rock formations in Nidderdale, near Pateley Bridge and about 10 miles from Harrogate, in Yorkshire. Once owned by the monks of Fountains Abbey, the Rocks have been a tourist attraction for at least 200 hundred years. Nowadays, they are a magnet for families, their dogs and walkers (sometimes with more dogs). There is plenty of opportunity for adventure including, of course, clambering on, and falling off, the rocks.
About 320 million years ago, half of Yorkshire was the delta of a huge river that flowed south from Norway and Scotland, depositing layers of granite sand which went on to form a hard sandstone, Millstone Grit. Erosion, mostly during the last Ice age between 80-10,000 years ago, has worn away the softer rock, leaving harder rock exposed.
Some of the rocks have been given names – not personal names like Adolf or Goneril, but names which suggest the shape of the rock when viewed from a certain angle, such as ‘the Eagle’, ‘the Anvil’ and ‘the Fractious Child’ (I might have made the last one up).
The habitat around the rocks includes heathland, bog and woodland. So there is a variety of plants, including various mosses and marsh plants, heather, bilberry, oak, rowan and some particularly fierce birch trees, which have to be controlled by rangers. The rangers’ remit unfortunately does not extend to some of the children. Amazingly, Holly Blue and Green Hairstreak butterflies apparently manage to survive in this harsh environment.
Since 1970, Brimham Rocks has been owned by the National Trust, who in addition to caring for the place provide a shop (which sells locally made bilberry jam), toilets, information and basic refreshments. On a good day, it would be a nice spot for a picnic. It is certainly an intriguing place to see, with some wonderful views, though the last time we visited it was like a home game at Old Trafford and we couldn’t wait to get into the nearest city centre for some peace and quiet. We really shouldn’t have visited during the school holidays… The NT car park (free to members) was full and an enterprising farmer was offering spaces in a field for the princely sum of £4.00 for each vehicle. We worked out that revenue that day would be at least £1,000 – not a bad little earner.
Brimham Rocks have appeared in various kids’ programmes, apparently, but the height of their fame, until being featured by A Bit About Britain, was an appearance in the video for the Bee Gees’ You Win Again in 1987. I’m sure you can find it if you want to.
Here is the link to Brimham Rocks’ page on the National Trust website.