How Stean Gorge - just go with the flow

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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If anyone ever tells you there isn’t an art to photography just show them this beguiling picture of How Stean Gorge, in Nidderdale.

There is a strange, ethereal quality to the stream with wisps of smoke seeming to rise like an apparition from the water. All of which is cleverly framed by the dull, earthen colours of the winter moss and the sharp rocky wall.

Nidderdale, deep in the wilds of North Yorkshire, is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and How Stean Gorge, which has been dubbed England’s little Switzerland, is among its many natural treasures.

It’s one that has been an aeon in the making. Thousands of years ago, during the last Ice Age, a glacier covered a large swathe of Nidderdale. Torrents of water poured off the melting ice cutting deep into the rock.

Over the centuries the force of the water has channelled deep into the limestone shaping and moulding this rock, creating great hollows and cavities that we recognise today.

As limestone ravines go, this one is pretty impressive. The steep sided chasm is just over half a mile in length and up to 80ft deep in places - a Yorkshire Grand Canyon, just one on a smaller scale.

But while it may not have the same shock and awe as Arizona’s epic canyon, its winding walkways, caves and tunnels are ripe for exploring. How Stean Gorge is an ideal location for outdoor activities like via ferrata, gorge walking, caving, rock climbing, canyoning and abseiling - and is one of the only places in the UK where you can enjoy both rock sports and canoeing in the same place.

For those who enjoy something a little less taxing the local area is home to some breathtaking scenery. There are walks that take you through nearby places like Stan, Middlesmoor and Lofthouse and link up with the Nidderdale Way, offering stunning views especially towards Nidderdale and Gouthwaite reservoir.

But then this is the Yorkshire Dales: you would expect nothing less.

Technical details: Nikon D4, 17-35mm Nikkor lens, 6 secs @ f13, 100asa.

Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Words: Chris Bond

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