Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales.

Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales.

He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales.

To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

DOWNSTREAM from Pateley Bridge the River Nidd makes its way through gentle countryside and pretty villages, a complete contrast to the wilder moors further upstream. It is a place to take your time and explore.

Pateley Bridge is an attractive place, set beside the River Nidd. There are some quaint shops but probably the most noteworthy is the sweet shop, the oldest in England.

Plenty of time to enjoy its charms later but start by heading to the road bridge over the river and heading south east on a good footpath which clings closely to the northern bank of the river. Soon after leaving the village arrive at ‘Pillars Past’, a depiction of three 2-metre high stone figures representing agriculture, mining and the monks of yore. From here the path sticks to the river before taking a diversion through the settlement of Glasshouses. A dam just off the river (water used for the old mill) provides a beautiful base for wild fowl, I spotted moorhens and geese when I passed. The mill itself may have provided rope for the Titanic - but it may not!

Return to the river and follow it for another mile to Low Laithe and then take the lane heading inland to Smelthouses (the second lane and second footpath in a small distance). I had to discover the origins of the name for this small settlement, in fact the monks of Fountains Abbey built a smelt mill to process the iron ore taken from the fell side above Pateley Bridge. At the west end of the village the well signposted Nidderdale Way enters some attractive woodland beside a small lake/pond. The Nidderdale Way is one of the most attractive and varied long distance walks, it is only 55 miles long but visits both the wild moors north of Pateley Bridge and the tranquil waters below.

Soon after crossing the small river of Fell Beck the path comes to a lane. The Nidderdale Way turns left back towards Pateley Bridge whilst a right turn leads steeply up hill to Brimham Rocks. If you have time and the weather is good they are definitely worth a visit.

The rocks are an astonishing site, sculpted over millions of years of ice, water and heat.

They have formed great boulders of gritstone rock, all of different shapes and many climbable, I took my young daughter many years ago and we both loved scrambling around them.

There are a number of paths at Fell Beck but I chose the one heading directly west, initially a lane that crosses the beck at a footbridge and climbs up alongside a wall, and past the quarry at White Houses. The views south down the Lower Nidderdale valley are excellent. Back on the Niddedale Way the path is well marked and obvious on the ground as it passes through and above a number of dry stone walls. After three quarters of a of a mile there is a short section of road (turn left for 200 metres) but the Way then carries on above Ripley Bank. Here there is a good viewing platform near the Knott, commissioned for Queen Victorias Golden Jubilee in 1887.

Before dropping in to the village turn right and follow the lane to the remains of St Mary’s Church, beautifully kept even though it is little more than a shell.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly 7.5 miles (excluding Brimham Rocks)

Height to Climb: 280m (920 feet)

Start: SE 157654. There is a car park just to the south side of the bridge.

Difficulty: Medium: The walking is generally straightforward and at a low level, the paths are good but it may take longer than you anticipate.

Refreshments: There is plenty of places to eat and drink in Pateley Bridge, including the sweet shop.