Nestled in the beautiful heart of Nidderdale, Pateley Bridge is a serene market town with a good selection of guest houses, bed and breakfasts and holiday cottages.
The town is popular for walkers and cyclists as it is on the Nidderdale Way, a 53 mile circular route that begins in Ripley and heads through a series of stunning valleys, passing the Brimham Rocks, Gouthwaite Reservoir and Ripley Castle along the way.
The Brimham Rocks are around four miles to the east of Pateley Bridge and are a number of bizarre yet striking balancing stones that stand almost 30 metres and were formed by the eroding of milestone grit during the carboniferous age between 80,000 and 10,000 years ago.
A key attraction in the town of Pateley Bridge itself is The Oldest Sweet Shop in England. The store’s name tells you everything you really need to know, but it is still a little misleading as the shop is actually the oldest of its kind in the world and is featured in the Guinness Book of Records.
Situated on High Street, the store opened in 1827 and it has been providing tasty treats to the town’s people ever since. It is based inside an old slate-roofed cottage with the year 1661 written over the door and sells retro sweets that will bring back childhood memories such as giant gobstoppers, Bon Bons and aniseed balls.
If you want to learn about Pateley Bridge’s people in bygone times then pay a visit to the Nidderdale Museum. Based inside the town’s former workhouse, the museum is far from large but there are plenty of things to see.
They include exhibits on the region’s history of mining and its place in the two world wars. There is also an original cobbler’s shop and a Victorian parlour to check out. There is a small admission charge for adult entry, but children are free.
If you like an adventure then a trip to How Stean Gorge is must. This 80ft ravine was formed during the last Ice Age and has been described as ‘Little Switzerland’. It is popular for rock climbers and abseilers, but it’s also good for those that just like a ramble as there are a number of rocky pathways that cut through it.
There are also numerous caves to explore with the best known be called Tom Taylor’s. It is named after the highwayman that found it and cuts off to the side of the gorge before coming out into a nearby field.
Another good place for exploration close by are the Stump Cross Caverns. Located along the B6265 to the west of Pateley Bridge, the caverns are amongst the best show caves in the UK and were formed through erosion during a time when the area was under an ocean more than 500,000 years ago.
A group of miners found the caves in 1860 and a number of archaeological finds have been made there since, including rare fossils. Today the caves have been opened up to visitors and give them the chance to see stalactites in many different colours.
Early September is a good time to visit Pateley Bridge as that is when it hosts the much-loved Nidderdale show, which is one of the most delightful festivals in the North and has an array of stalls and marquees with lots of local produce to taste.
It attracts more than 20,000 people on average and also boasts terrier racing, a car challenge for young farmers and a grand parade of horses and cattle.
There are places to stay in and around Pateley Bridge, including campsites, two guest houses, a selection of B&Bs and a number of public houses which double up as hotels.