Brimham Rocks are the kind of natural curiosity that delight young and old visitors alike. Once discovered, many ask ‘why haven’t we been here before?’.
They’re slightly hidden on a minor road near Summerbridge in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and make a perfect natural playground and picnic spot. The site is large enough to provide entertainment for several hours, with plenty of spot for children to run and play hide and seek among the rocks.
The Millstone Grit stones have a coarse surface, making them a great starting point for young climbers but watch out on rainy days when they can be quite slippy. Roger and the Rottentrolls was filmed here so you may spot some of the locations from the children’s TV series. The views from the rocks on a clear day also make it worth a visit, particularly if you’re seeking a picnic site.
The rocks are the result of over 350 million years of erosion. Around 380 million years ago a huge delta river deposit the Millstone Grit which was eventually shaped by ice, water, and sand deposits in wind, creating the curious collection of interesting shaped rocks that visitors now love.
Over the years the various formations and shapes have been given names, and stories attach to some of them. There are numerous Rocking Stones, Druid’s Kissing Chair, Wishing Rock, Pulpit Rock, Cannon Rocks. Some are said to resemble animals - the Crocodiles, Polar Bears, Elephant, Turtle, Rat, Owl and Camel’s Head.
In the 1950s it seems to have been a popular pastime to ask bachelors to walk through a narrow cleft called the Needle, for the amusement of assembled women (simpler times...). Children now delight in weaselling their way through the tight spaces and discovering the nooks and crannies.
Brimham is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It's quite unusual to find three different varieties of heather in one area – ling, bell, and cross-leaved heath. Numerous bird boxes have been erected around the site, which attract blue and great tits, pied flycatchers, nuthatches, redstarts, spotted flycatchers and owls.
The National Trust has a regular programme of events at Brimham Rocks, with guided walks looking at its geology and history, and adventure days organised with the Harrogate Climbing Centre.