What is Brimham Rocks?

Brimham Rocks skyline

Set high on the side of Nidderdale in North Yorkshire, Brimham Rocks provides an amazing outdoor experience for those looking for the freedom to explore. Whether you’re a walker, a climber, a nature lover, an artist or a family day-tripper there’s plenty to discover. From the spectacular rocks to the panoramic views, Brimham has enchanted visitors for hundreds of years with its unique and magical atmosphere.

A long time ago.....

Picture Mount Everest; as crazy as it sounds, over 400 million years ago, a large mountain range just like the Himalayas stood not far from where Brimham now stands. Over time, powerful erosive forces slowly wore them away creating a river delta the size of Yorkshire. These sands were later compacted beginning the long process of shaping the rocks into their current forms.

The rocks today

Fast forward millions of years; the rocks, newly exposed became prey to ice and sand-blasting winds, carving away at them, leaving behind the range of other-worldly shapes you see today. From the Smartie Tube, Castle Rock, to the Druid’s Writing Desk and the Idol, the rocks now fascinate and inspire thousands of people every year. Borrow a lanyard pack from our welcome cabin, join one of our geology walks or check our ‘Geology of Brimham’ page to find out more. If you’re interested in climbing the rocks, why not book onto one of our frequent Outdoor Days, run throughout the year by Harrogate Climbing Centre.

Druid's Writing Desk
Druid's Writing Desk at Brimham Rocks
Druid's Writing Desk

The moorland

Brimham Moor is an important heather moorland habitat. It is classified as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to its globally significant plant life. Managing the moorland is a full-time job for our team of rangers to conserve the three varieties of heather found here. Looking forward we are seeking to introduce cattle to parts of the moorland to assist in controlling the birch which threatens this rare habitat and the wildlife that lives here.

Brimham heather moorland with a meadow pipit
Brimham Meadow Pipit
Brimham heather moorland with a meadow pipit

The people

People have been drawn to Brimham for well over 200 years by the bizarre rocks. In the mid-18th century it was declared that the rocks had been made by druids. Myths and legends such as this made Brimham a popular destination for Victorians, particularly with the arrival of the railways. Refreshments were available from Brimham House which had been built by Lord Grantley in 1792 for the ‘accommodation of strangers’. Various other buildings came and went through the 20th century until the National Trust took over in 1970. Monthly Brimham through the ages walks can give you further insight into the site’s history.

19th Century Brimham
Brimham Horse & Cart
19th Century Brimham