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More about Nidd Gorge

Nidd Gorge woodland clings to a dramatic steep-sided valley. Its patchwork of habitats supports a wealth of wildlife and flora, and you’ll find relics of an intriguing history dating back to the Iron Age.

You can stroll through the ancient broadleaved woodland and along the banks of the gently meandering river in the sheltered depths of the valley, or climb higher for stunning views towards the historic spa towns of Knaresborough and Harrogate.

The wood is brimming with birdlife – more than 80 species have been recorded. Look out for flocks of colourful blue tits, flame-headed goldcrests, and little rosy-breasted redpolls. Near the river, you may spot a heron standing stock still at the water’s edge, or a flash of shimmering blue-green as a kingfisher swoops low over the water.

In springtime, the woodland floor is scattered with bluebell, wild garlic, celandine, and clumps of delicate, purple-veined wood sorrel, especially south of the river. As we move into summer, you’ll find sweet-scented dog rose, orchid, and the sunshine-yellow cups of marsh marigold. The woodland also has an impressive array of fungi, some easily identified from their picturesque names – keep your eyes peeled for the dryad’s saddle, the multicoloured striations of the turkey’s tail, and the luminous white angel’s bonnet.

There’s plenty to interest history buffs too. It’s likely that the Iron Age fort at Gates Hill also once served as a Roundhead encampment during the siege of Knaresborough Castle. And the remains of coal pits and lime kilns serve as reminders of the site’s industrial heritage.

Younger family members can spot animal sculptures as well as the face of Guy Fawkes carved on a tree trunk. Did you know he lived near here as a boy?

With its dramatic landscape, wealth of wildlife and plants, intriguing history and wide network of paths, a visit to Nidd Gorge is a great day out for all the family.


The 46ha (114-acre) Nidd Gorge wood is located in a steep-sided valley around two kilometres (1.5 miles) west of Knaresborough. The river Nidd runs east to west through the gorge, dividing the woodland into two almost equal parts. Nidd Gorge is made up of five woods: Coalpits Wood, Bilton Banks, Spring Wood, Scotton Banks and Gates Wood.

The valley woodlands and their surrounding agricultural land form part of the Nidd Gorge Project area, an enterprise set up by Harrogate Borough Council and the Countryside Commission to conserve and manage Nidd Gorge for its outstanding ecological and recreational value.

OS Explorer 297, Landranger 104, SE328579

(Photo: WTML / Mark Sunderland)

Access and walks

There is an information board near the main entrance showing the woodland’s extensive footpath network. From the car park, a pedestrian gate leads to a well-surfaced forest track with some gentle inclines. The track runs through the wood for around 1.1km (0.6 miles) to the river Nidd and connects with other paths, which link with a wider network leading to Harrogate, Knaresborough and the surrounding area. The Nidd Gorge site is steep in places, paths may include steps and board walks, and it can be slippery in wet weather.

There is a pedestrian bridge across the river just off the forest track, about 300m (330yds) from the car park. For Woodland Trust's Bilton Beck and Rudding Bottoms woodland, follow the riverside path to the west (upstream) for around 1.5km (one mile) from the bridge.


By car
From Knaresborough High Street, take the B6165 towards Ripley. After around 2.4 km (1.5 miles), there is a free car park with space for around 10 cars on the left, just before Scotton Drive.

By train
The nearest train station is Knaresborough (1.5 miles).

By bus
There are buses from Knaresborough. The closest stop to the wood is at Scotton. For details of buses and times visit Traveline.

Nearest amenities

Public conveniences
There are several public toilets in Knaresborough including one at the entrance to the car park for Conyingham Hall, which is off the A59 near the bridge over the River Nidd.

Knaresborough has a wide range of cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Accommodation and tourist information
The Tourist Information Centre is in Knaresborough library on Market Place. Or visit the website or call 01423 866886 or 01609 533610.

To find the nearest accommodation please visit TripAdvisor.

Looking to extend your adventure with a holiday in the great outdoors? Whether you’re glamping, camping or caravanning, our partner Freedom To Go can help you find the perfect pitch.  

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.