Designated an Area of Natural Beauty in 1994, Nidderdale is one of the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire, England. Its focal point is the long valley through which the River Nidd flows. The western side of the AONB is a bleak, remote gritstone landscape with heather moorland; the eastern side is a rural, softer landscape with gently rolling farmland, river valleys and small towns and villages.
With its wide range of habitats, there is much for the wildlife enthusiast to see all year round. The area contains internationally important wildlife habitats for moorland birds such as the red grouse, peregrine falcon, the golden plover and the merlin. Woods are carpeted with bluebells in April; and in August, the heather-covered moorland is in full bloom. Ancient hedgerows brim with life and can contain hundreds of plant species, thousands of insect types, 65 bird species and 21 different mammals.
With over 820 km (~510 mi) of public footpaths and bridleways, there’s plenty of scope for walkers, from long distance routes to short strolls. The Nidderdale Way is circular walk starting in finishing in Pateley Bridge, and is within the AONB for almost all of its 85 km (~53 mi), departing only to visit the village of Ripley. There are plenty of quiet lanes for cycling as well as designated cycling routes and off-road tracks. For the more adventurous, there are opportunities for hiking, climbing and potholing – and even llama trekking.
Some seasonal dates to be aware of: lambing season runs March to May; and in the upland areas many birds nest on the ground from March to July – keep dogs on leads to avoid causing distress to wildlife. Grouse shooting season runs from August through to December and some moors may be closed to public access.
The nearest major cities are Leeds and York. From here, Nidderdale is accessible by local bus services.
Britain contains around 75% of the world’s moorland habitats, with areas such as Nidderdale representing some of the finest examples.