The Nidderdale Way
Centred on the picturesque village of Pateley Bridge, the Nidderdale Way is a 53-mile circular route almost entirely within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A quick glance at the map showed that it winds along river banks, through rolling fields and across open moorland, visiting numerous small villages (hopefully with pubs or tearooms!) and might, I reasoned, be neatly divided into fairly short walks achievable with a young baby in a pram and an intrepid 4-year-old.
I decided we’d walk about 2 miles from Pateley Bridge to Wath (where the map showed there was a pub!) and return by the same route. James was really up for it, especially once he learned I hadn’t done it before. “Oh! It will be an adventure for both of us, won’t it, Mummy? And for my baby brother too!”
We followed the trail along the river, stopping at a weir to feed the ducks and float sticks. It was very peaceful and the glassy surface of the water reflected the sky and fluffy clouds. It was perfect. Then we reached a kissing gate. James offered advice and encouragement as I dismantled the pram, carried everything through in stages, and then reassembled everything on the other side. I didn’t know it then, but this was to be the first of five kissing gates or stiles on our way to Wath. We walked along the river bank picking up the usual ‘treasure’ on the way. We conquered other kissing gates, talked about foxgloves and drystone walls, and planned our refreshments at the pub. James was delighted by the wild flower meadows. “Look, Mummy! I’m swimming!” he giggled as he waded through long grass and tall clover. The final obstacle which separated us from the pub was a narrow bridge. I like a challenge, but I sighed heavily. James said, “Be brave Mummy, and we’ll soon be in the pub!”
The pub looked delightful, but it had also closed an hour earlier! Thankfully, the kind bar staff were still there and spotted the 4-year-old peering hopefully through the window. They took pity on us, and so we had well-earned drinks and crisps in the beautiful beer garden. Then we headed back over the bridge and the five kissing gates to Pateley Bridge! (I was spared one kissing gate as some nice ladies helped me carry the pram over it. James presented them with a pheasant’s tail feather and an alder catkin as a thank you).
We finished our adventure with delicious locally-made ice creams in Pateley Bridge. Two miles down; fifty-one to go...
Clearly, if you have a pram, this section’s not for the faint-hearted. But although the kissing gates were inconvenient, they didn’t spoil the walk at all, because what was on the other side of the gate was always so appealing that it beckoned me on: a grassy path alongside the peaceful river; a tree-lined trail; or a wild flower meadow. It was great for little legs, with plenty of safe space to run about, lots of landscape features and wildlife to talk about, and the all-important pub! Just remember that it closes in the afternoon on weekdays!
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Hi there! Helen and Ian here from the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire border! We have two boys who love everything in the Great Outdoors (especially sticks), and a border collie who also loves everything in the Great Outdoors (especially tennis balls). We also have a toddler daughter who is fiercely independent and proving to be just as intrepid as her brothers.
Favourite place in the world:
A difficult one... There are so many wonderful places to choose from... But it has to be Sandwood Bay in the far north-west of Scotland which can only be reached by a 4-mile walk. Last time we went it was a full-on winter mountaineering experience (with ice axe and crampons!) just to get there. Wild and windswept, it's totally unspoilt.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Enjoy beaches, woods, and coastal paths; explore waterways in our open canoe; go for a big day out on a small hill; go rock climbing; collect sticks, conkers, and acorns; investigate puddles and rockpools; ride our tandem; fly a kite against a clear blue sky.