While being overshadowed by neighbouring North Stainley and Masham, this small and beautiful village has a rich history of its own and is a good place to stay if you are looking to explore both Nidderdale and Lower Wensleydale.
The main sight in West Tanfield is the 15th century Marmion Tower, a gatehouse that was once joined into the village’s manor house. Standing on the banks of the River Ure, the tower is three stories high and has a spiral staircase leading to its first floor. It has been maintained by English Heritage since the 1970s.
In front of the tower is St Nicholas’ Church, which dates back to the 13th century. Restoration work was carried out on the building during the 15th and 19th centuries so its appearance has changed slightly from the original structure.
Inside, much of the woodwork is Victorian, but the sculptures are date back to the early days of the church with effigies of a knight and his lady likely to be representation of the village’s lord John Marmion and his wife Elizabeth.
Just to the east of West Tanfield are the Thornborough Henges. These are three ancient monument sites which have been described as the Stonehenge of the north. It is thought they were used for rituals and burials during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, dating between 3500 and 2500 BCE.
Each year, the henges host a celebration of the ancient Gaelic festival Bealtaine, which includes traditional dances as well as sword fighting displays and stalls.
If you seek further thrills then head to Lightwater Valley near North Stainley. Set over 175 acres it is one of Britain’s best loved theme parks, attracting in excess of 500,000 visitors each year.
The park’s most famous ride is The Ultimate, which is the longest rollercoaster in Europe. Other white knuckle rides at Lightwater Valley include the subterranean Raptor Attack and Eagle’s Claw, an Afterburner swing ride that replaced the park’s Viking longship attraction.
Those of that you that like a tipple should take a day trip to Masham just north of West Tanfield as it is the home of the Theakston and Black Sheep breweries. Both are open to the public so you can see what it really takes to make a damn good pint.