The softer pastoral land in the east of the AONB is scattered with Historic Parks and Gardens such as Hackfall, Swinton Park and Studley Royal.
Landscape design in and around the AONB has Royal beginnings and started with the two Norman hunting forests of Knaresborough Forest and Nidderdale Chase. The latter became the medieval monastic agricultural estates of Upper Nidderdale. Medieval deer parks were also developed in areas such as Studley Royal.
Continuing this medieval tradition, Nidderdale AONB has a large number of post-medieval parks and gardens. Long-established families, such as the Aislabies, Ingilbys, Yorkes, Mowbrays and Danbys were all responsible for graceful buildings and designed landscapes of great merit. The buildings and grounds at Studley Royal, Swinton Castle, Hackfall, Jervaulx Abbey amongst others, and the parks in Wharfedale are all valuable components of the landscape, distinguishing Nidderdale from the wilder parts of the Pennines.
Beyond these grand trend-setting sites, the garden history in the AONB lies in the smaller scale, domestic gardens that have been identified by the Historic Parks and Gardens Study Group. This group has identified nearly 230 sites in the AONB, including about 100 former orchards. Their research can be found at www.parksandgardens.ac.uk.