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,

THE lower reaches of Nidderdale are seldom walked (except by locals ‘in the know’) as the motorist tends to drive on to Pateley Bridge and the wilder reservoirs in the upper Dale. It is definitely worth exploring the areas with a fine walk linking the two villages of Darley and Dacre Banks.

Leave your car near the Royal Oak pub in the small village of Dacre Banks and 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 ½ 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 turn right towards Darley Head where you will arrive at Darley Mill, next to the Wellington pub. 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.

Return east along the road in to the village of Darley. Darley (meaning deer glade) is an award winning village with many grand Victorian and Georgian buildings. After ½ a mile from Darley Head at grid ref 204596 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 impressive) on the opposite bank is Dougill Hall, a fine Georgian hall which has equestrian outhouses and pleasant grounds overlooking the river. The cost of some of these grand buildings is high, the proximity to Harrogate helps. 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 before returning to your car.

Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly 5 miles

Height to Climb: 100m (330 feet)

Start: Dacre Banks SE 197622. Park considerately near the church and head towards the Royal Oak.

Difficulty: Easy. On footpaths and good tracks.

Refreshments: The Royal Oak at Dacre Banks is a fine place to eat or drink.

Be Prepared:

Wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors.

Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.