The Countryside around York
West of York - The Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales to the West of York, hold the rivers flowing from the Pennine hills to the Yorkshire coast.
Upstream from York, the River Nidd flows into York's River Ouse. The Nidd continues up near the spa town of Harrogate (heavily Victorian) and into Nidderdale and the high moors beyond Pately Bridge (small, attractive market town) to the wild reservoirs of Gouthwaite, Scar House and Angram. Lead mining was common around Pately Bridge, and there are many caves in the limestone. Stump Cross Caverns, near Greenhow Hill, are open to the public.
To the South of Nidderdale lies Wharfedale. The River Wharfe rises high in the limestone moors above Buckden and flows through the wide and beautiful Wharfedale through the villages of Kettlewell and Grassington before reaching the beautiful ruins of Bolton Abbey. Just to the North of the Abbey, the river narrows to just a few feet at the Strid; many lives have been lost here by foolhardy people trying to jump across onto the slippery rocks on the far bank.
South again of Wharfedale lies the River Aire. The lower reaches, flowing through the industrial areas of Keighley and Leeds are unattractive, but the upper river, from Malham to Skipton is delightful. Malham Cove is an impressive limestone cliff where once a river leapt over its brim. Today, the river at this point lies deep underground. The village of Howarth, 4 miles South of Keighley, is famous for being the birthplace and home of the Bronte sisters. The Parsonage Museum is worth a visit, as is the lonely ruined farmstead of Top Withins, reputed to be the setting for Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights".
To the North of Nidderdale, perhaps getting a little far from York for day trips, lie more beautiful dales - Wensleydale (with the River Ure!), Swaledale and Teesdale.