Family days out in Yorkshire: Brimham Rocks

I have memories of visiting Brimham Rocks as a child and absolutely loving it. The mini travel tribe made it there recently and it got a massive thumbs up from everybody. If you are looking for family days out in Yorkshire this is a great option.

What to expect

Brimham Rocks is an amazing collection of rock formations which have been sculpted by wind, rain and ice over the years. The area in Nidderdale, north of Harrogate is managed by the National Trust. It is a giant natural playground for kids big and small. For the first ten minutes that we were there C was running around like crazy shouting “this is awesome”!

Child jumping off rock at Brimham rocks
C in her element

There are paths leading through the rock formations, although we made plenty of detours! Most of the time was spent exploring the rocks for places to climb and jump. I do admit that Brimham rocks with a toddler isn’t the most relaxing experience! Obviously B wanted to go everywhere that his sisters went and he needed to be kept under close watch.

There are places where you can walk out onto flat, cliff-like rocks to get beautiful views out over the Yorkshire dales. We did manage to get the children to sit still for more than 2 seconds here!  The rock was plenty big enough for them to take in the view without being too close to the edge.

Children admiring the view from Brimham rocks
Taking in the view

Getting there

The best way to get there is by car and park in the National Trust car park. This is free for National Trust members or £6 for non-members. Be aware that the car park machine does not take cards. There is often a NT member of staff there so you can do as we did and pay them by card. We always come unstuck with not having cash with us- you’ll find out about another instance further down the page!.

When you get there

We managed to pick up a map from the National Trust stall in the car park. There are 2 main routes from the car park up towards the visitor centre (around 0.5 mile walk). One of these is on a road-like path that is suitable for pushchairs, although you may miss some of the rock formations on this. The other path is more winding and has some steps near the beginning. You can’t really go too far wrong – as long as you keep heading in the same general direction you will arrive at the visitor centre.

Facilities

Once you have walked through the rocks you arrive at the visitor centre and kiosk. You can buy snacks and ice creams from here. There is also a picnic area with plenty of picnic tables although we opted to use our picnic blanket on the grass in a scenic spot.

View of Brimham rocks and picnic area
Picnic area next to the visitor centre

The visitor centre has a nice shop and upstairs is a display about the formation of the rocks which I found quite interesting but the children less so! There are also nice views from the upstairs windows over the rocks and the surrounding countryside. There are signs to tell you what you are looking at and allegedly you can see all the way to York Minster.

In the visitor centre you can also pick up leaflets with routes for short walks. There is a moorland walk, a woodland walk and the rocks walk. None of these are very long so most children would be able to manage them. We opted for the shortest, ‘rocks walk’, which was pretty much the route we had taken from the car park and back. If your children are anything like ours, walking any distance may be tricky as they are just too busy playing on the rocks!

Child standing on rocks
Enjoying the rocks!

Brimham rocks practicalities with kids

  • This is a natural environment not a structured playground with barriers so you do need to keep a close eye on your kids! I think Husband found it quite stressful making sure none of them were about to fall from a big drop!
  • When we were there an ice cream van was in the car park. It was cash only so don’t do what we did and promise your kids ice cream on the walk back to the car only to discover you have no cash to pay for it! We were saved by the kindness of strangers. Having heard what was going on and one of the kids crying uncontrollably, a very generous family in the car park insisted on giving us money to be able to buy ice creams. If that family  is reading this we (and especially the kids!) were super grateful. We will definitely pay this kindness on to someone else in some way.
  • As mentioned earlier, most of the area is accessible for prams and pushchairs. If you are at Brimham rocks with a toddler or a baby but also have older kids that are wanting to scramble on the rocks, a baby carrier may be handy so you can explore the rocks easier. Luckily B is old enough now to not need the pushchair all the time, and was definitely not going to miss out on all the climbing!

So Brimham rocks did not disappoint from my childhood memories of it! I imagine I would have been just like C at that point running, jumping and climbing everywhere. To be honest as an adult I was just as keen to do this too! If you are looking for other family days out in Yorkshire or are heading for a holiday in North Yorkshire check out our post on Thorp Perrow arboretum. Where do you go for your favourite family day out? Let us know any ideas for our next adventure!

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Family day out at Thorp Perrow

We are always looking for new ideas for family days out in Yorkshire. Brimham rocks is a family friendly North Yorkshire trip out that we love but Thorp Perrow Arboretum was recently recommended to me by a friend. So on a gorgeous spring day we packed a picnic and headed up the A1.  We were definitely not disappointed, I absolutely loved this place and I am sure we will be back at some point now that we have discovered it.

Thorp Perrow is an arboretum in North Yorkshire, close to Bedale on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales but only about 10 minutes drives from the Al. It obviously has lots of trees, but also a birds of prey and mammal centre as well as children’s playground and tea room.

We arrived around lunch time so had our picnic in a lovely picnic area, just inside the main entrance. There are plenty of picnic benches there, including some very cute kiddie-sized ones but we used our picnic blanket. After the picnic we followed the Easter Egg trail ( we bought maps for £1 each as we went in, which included a chocolate). It was a lovely trail which all 3 children really enjoyed, just about the right length to maintain interest and not too far in between clues for little toddler legs!

We then dashed over to the birds of prey centre to catch the flying display. The birds of prey centre had lots of birds, which seemed well kept and they flew 3 different birds in the display. The toddler was a little unsure when a huge owl landed just above his head, and the handler did say to try and keep small children close to you! We all loved the display, the highlights for me were the being so close to the owl and watching the falcon doing amazing dives from high up to get a lure that was being swung around by the handler- he was too fast for me to photograph!

Following the birds of prey we nipped next door to the ‘mammal centre’. Not loads of animals- some meerkats, goats and wallabies. My friend that had been a couple of weeks earlier had raved about the wallaby walk saying that they were really tame and came right up to you. I think it was a bit hot for the wallabies when we were there as they were all just laid in the shade not moving!

There was a tea van just outside the birds of prey/ mammal centre and more picnic benches so we had a cup of tea there while the children ate their chocolate rewards from the egg hunt and played on the grass and in the trees.

We then managed to wander around a decent part of the arboretum area before being nagged to death to go to the playground. I felt the whole place was quite magical, lovely paths through the trees, with plenty of spring blossom and flowers around.

We had to go to the playground obviously too which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. It isn’t a huge playground but it wasn’t busy and there was plenty for toddlers as well as older children. I loved that it was all wooden, natural materials that seemed to fit well with the environment.

Practicalities/ Top Tips:

  • You can but tickets in advance online but there was hardly a queue when we got there on a sunny bank holiday weekend. We just bought tickets on arrival.
  • When we were there it was pretty much the end of the Daffodils but they were everywhere and I can imagine it would have looked stunning a couple of weeks earlier- if you’re thinking of going in spring, maybe try and time it to get them in full bloom.
  • When you arrive check the timings of the flying displays- this was one of our favourite parts of the visit so you don’t want to miss it! You can also check the timings on the Thorp Perrow website before you leave home.
  • The tea van next to the birds of prey centre is cash only.
  • There are toilets by the entrance and also by the birds of prey centre. There are baby change facilities at each of these places too.
  • The paths were fine with a pushchair when we were there. Lots of the paths were on grass so it might depend a little bit on the conditions.
  • The Thorp Perrow website has all the information that you need about ticket prices, opening times and special events that they have on throughout the year.

Overall the whole Mini Travel Tribe would highly recommend Thorp Perrow. For a family day out with a toddler or children or any age it is a fab place.

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