How to Plan a Day at Brimham Rocks

Thanks to our writer Bethanie for this post which was published in May 2023. Please check with venues direct for the most up to date information. 

Located not far from Harrogate, Brimham Rocks is a fantastic family day out in North Yorkshire.

Brimham Rocks 

How to Plan a Day at Brimham Rocks

  • Free to visit with no booking required 

  • Perfect for kids and adults who love adventure and climbing 

  • Dogs on short leads welcome 

  • Toilets (including accessible toilets) and kiosk selling takeaway drinks and snacks 

  • Explore weird and wonderful rock formations which were formed over 100 million years ago (before dinosaurs walked the earth)

  • Permanent orienteering route available - ask at the visitor centre 

  • 19 weird and wonderful main rock formations to see including 'dancing bear' and 'smartie tube'

  • Various walks to try including a 1.3 mile easy circular route or a 3.5 mile circular boundary route (see here for maps or collect one from the visitor centre on arrival)

  • There is an accessible route to see the main rocks but there are some steep gradients to be aware of. Mobility scooter hire is available 

  • 80 miles South of Newcastle (near Harrogate) 

  • FREE parking for National Trust Members (otherwise parking charges apply). I recommend checking the National Trust App on busy days (as the car park can fill up)

  • Postcode HG4 3DW (then follow the signs) 

  • We recommend packing a picnic - there are lots of picnic tables / scenic spots to stop for a picnic

Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire has long been a favourite day out of mine. I was born just down the road in Harrogate and some of my earliest memories are of exploring the “giants” that were stacked so high they could touch the sky. 

How to Plan a Day at Brimham Rocks

Of course, when I return now with my own children, the giants seem slightly smaller but no less impressive. So, I want to share with you how to plan your day out at Brimham Rocks. 

You can probably imagine I was overjoyed that my own children love this place as much as I did when I was little. They had to be dragged away from their game in the cave, as they would have quite happily spent the whole day there. 

What is Brimham Rocks?

For those who don’t know, Brimham Rocks is a National Trust owned site, that is home to the natural spectacle of giant rock formations. The rock formations were created by an immense river 100 million years BEFORE the dinosaurs walked the earth. 

These amazing rocks have been sculpted over time, creating some weird and wonderful shapes. 

It is free to visit Brimham Rocks, and as you explore the site you can look out for different named formations such as “Dancing Bear”, “The Turtle” and “The Smartie tube”. 

I recommend that you pick up a site map from the kiosk which is located in the main car park. This is quite a fun way for the kids to tick off the different rock formations as they climb, scramble and explore the hidden caves and cavasses the rocks have created. 

It also means you get to see as much of the site as possible. We still haven’t done everything, and I imagine your visit will depend on the age of your children. 

Brimham Rocks is perfect for kids who love to climb but do be aware that rocks can get slippy in wet weather and there are some sudden drops and steep slopes. 

A few highlights:

The Smartie Tube

The most famous of the rock formations is the Smartie Tube. With many holes, tunnels and tubes, you can probably guess how it got its name. There have been several theories as to how the holes were formed. One of the theories is that an ancient tree died and fell over. The trunks were then surrounded by sediment that later turned to rock. As the trunk rotted away it left lots of little holes. 

Walk out to Mushroom Rock

Mushroom rock is one of the outlying rocks, having been separated from the main concentration of rocks. It is worth walking to see, as it provides the opportunity to see the stunning moorland and extend your time visiting Brimham Rocks. 

The Moorland and Meadow walk

While you are here, you can explore the diverse landscapes around Brimham Rocks. The circular walking route is 4.7 miles long and isn’t suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. You are however, rewarded with stunning views across the Yorkshire Moors and on a clear day you might even be able to spot York Minster. 

There is a visitor centre which is open 10am – 4pm, along with a kiosk selling hot and cold food and drinks. We enjoyed a small tub of ice cream in the sunshine, before heading back to climb more rocks. 

According to the National Trust website, the best rocks are behind the visitor centre. Apparently many people miss these (including ourselves), so we shall have to look for them next time. 

Personally, I recommend bringing a picnic to Brimham Rocks as the food is a little pricey. In front of the visitor centre, you will find a dedicated picnic area with picnic tables. We sat and ate ours by the car on a handy rock that made the perfect little seat for the kids. 

To find out more about the different rock formations, visit the website:

Getting to Brimham Rocks and car parking. 

Brimham Rocks is located 11 miles from Harrogate. Use postcode: HG3 4DW. Once you are on the Brimham road, keep going until you see the National Trust signs for Brimham Rocks. 

There is a large car park and parking is free for National Trust members. You just need to scan your membership card at the machine in the car park. Sometimes it can get busy during school holidays / peak periods but if you check the National Trust app, it lets you know if the car park is full. 

For non-members, parking can be a little pricey for the day: 

Cars cost £6.50 for 4 hours or £10 per day (personally I would say four hours was enough time unless you have a big walk planned) motorcycles are £3 and motorhomes are £12. 

There is an accessible path that takes you directly to the visitor centre in around a ten-minute walk. From the path, you are still able to see plenty of the amazing rock formations. 

I hope this has encouraged you to visit and that you enjoy your visit to Brimham Rocks as much as we do. Also in the area, you will find Fountains Abbey, Ripon Cathedral, the town of Knaresborough and Newby Hall, so plenty of ways to extend your day out. 


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