Geology of Nidderdale AONB

Goniatite - it’s an extinct relative of the squid and octopus, to you and me, and yes you’ve guessed it, if geology and fossils are your thing and you know where to look you can find evidence of it in Nidderdale!

This is just one tiny example of Nidderdale AONB’s fascinating geology. The underlying geology of this area of the Yorkshire Dales, with gritstone overlaying limestone, is fundamental to how the landscape has developed. Nidderdale’s mix of rocks and soils have heavily influenced how man has interacted with the landscape through its geology, from farming to mining and quarrying.

Nidderdale AONB's geology includes features that amazed the first Victorian tourists who visited the Yorkshire Dales and these geological features continue to draw people today. They include the spectacular limestone gorge at How Stean and the exposed limestone fault at Limley, where the River Nidd disappears underground to flow 30 metres below the surface before reappearing three kilometres downstream at another geological fault.

Brimham Rocks is perhaps the best known geological feature in Nidderdale AONB - a weird and wonderful collection of amazing rock formations carved into the millstone grit. The rocks began taking their shape roughly 320 million years ago, when water, grit, and sand washed down from Scotland and Norway to form the land of Yorkshire. During the last glacial period, geological forces got to work and the rocks were shaped into the bizarre shapes you see today. As the last of the giant ice age glaciers melted in Nidderdale they created the ripples and waves on the rocks, resulting in sculpted looking forms with names such as the Sphinx, the Watchdog, the Camel, the Turtle and the Dancing Bear.

This is just one example of the range of fascinating geology in Nidderdale AONB for you to explore. Take a look at our interactive map to discover more.