BEFORE the River Nidd flows through the outskirts of Harrogate and after it take a tumble through the wilder lands north of Pateley Bridge is a lovely section of riverside walking between two attractive and quite affluent villages.

Leave your car on the road heading in to Darley close to the Wellington Inn. Darley (meaning deer glade) is an award winning village with many grand Victorian and Georgian buildings. Head east for roughly half a mile to point 204596 and turn left on to a lane heading north towards the river. This crosses an old railway before hitting the banks of the River Nidd. Turn left and enjoy a very pleasant two-mile section of the Nidderdale Way. The track sticks to the banks of the river and is the home of fishermen, dog walkers and those ‘doing the Way’. The Nidderdale Way is only 53 miles in length but within this there are some lovely sections that can be taken in bite sized chunks, this is one of them.

After only 200 metres the footpath crosses Darley Beck and then on to some stepping stones that cross the main river on your right. Do not take these this time, we are sticking to this side of the Nidd. The path then enters a selection of fields but sticks close to the river. The most impressive building (it is a tough call, they are all grand) on the opposite bank is Dougill Hall, a fine Georgian hall which has equestrian outhouses and pleasant grounds overlooking the river. If you have a spare million you may get lucky! On reaching the road bridge between Dacre Banks and Summeridge turn left. Almost immediately on your right is the Holy Trinity Church, a fine building and graveyard which is worth spending some time exploring.

The Royal Oak pub could provide a refreshment stop but if not you need to take the lane just past the pub heading south before it turns into a footpath near some buildings. The path climbs gently until it joins the dismantled railway and becomes a wide track contouring the hillside and with very good views across the river and Lower Nidderdale. Old Hall is down a lane to the left but carry on south through some pleasant woodland. The woodland stretches for nearly half a mile before emerging close to the river. Turn sharply right at the next stile and head up hill for 100 metres before turning right. The path passes above Pyefield House before dropping gradually to a footbridge over Darley Beck.

From here take the footpath directly opposite which climbs steadily just east of south towards. Darley. On entering Darley the car is to your right. However carry on past the car towards Darley Head where there are two points of interest. The afore mentioned Wellington pub is one attraction but more culturally is Darley Mill next door. Darley Mill is a 17th century converted corn mill which in 1875 was operated by a powerful, locally built iron waterwheel which only ceased to operate in the 1950s. Admittedly the mill is boarded up at present as there is an ongoing dispute as what to do with the buildings, the original ‘tourist attraction’ closed in 2016. However the pub is well and truly open!

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly five miles

Height to Climb: 410m (1,350 feet)

Start: SE 196595. There is some road side parking to the east of the Wellington Inn. .

Difficulty: Easy. On footpaths and good tracks.

Refreshments: The Wellington Inn at Darley Head is a fine place to eat or drink.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk.