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”!
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 actually managed 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!