Things to do in Pateley Bridge, England

If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing the Yorkshire Dales first-hand, the picturesque town of Pateley Bridge is the perfect gateway for your adventure. Recognized by the Sunday Times as one of Northern England’s best places to live, this charming town is steeped in history and beauty. Pateley Bridge, affectionately known as Pateley by locals, is renowned for housing the world’s oldest sweet shop, making it a dream destination for confectionery enthusiasts. But the allure of Pateley Bridge doesn’t stop at sweets. As part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this locale promises a feast for the senses for all nature lovers.

Adventure seekers will find an array of exciting activities in Pateley Bridge. With opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, climbing, caving, and hiking, outdoor enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice. Moreover, the town itself offers a range of attractions that shouldn’t be missed. Far from just another English countryside town, Pateley Bridge surprises and delights with its array of sights and activities.

Let’s dive in and explore the best things to do in Pateley Bridge.

Explore High Street

Your journey through the town begins best with a leisurely stroll down the bustling High Street, packed with quaint stores, aromatic bakeries, and delightful gift shops that invite you in for a browse. Walking through the town’s heart provides an authentic feel of Pateley Bridge and offers a fantastic opportunity to mingle with locals while hunting for unique souvenirs.

Starting at the bridge towards the town, wander uphill, immersing yourself in the scene. It’s almost inevitable you’ll be tempted to pause along the way. Keep reading to discover the must-visit spots lining this main artery of Pateley Bridge.

Step into the World’s Oldest Sweet Shop

For candy lovers, one of the town’s sweetest attractions awaits – ‘The Oldest Sweet Shop.’ This beloved institution, dating back to 1827, draws visitors with its wide selection of nostalgic sweets. Watch as the confectioner carefully weighs your favourites and slips them into a traditional stripy bag.

The sweet shop’s continued success is a refreshing counterpoint to modern chains, boasting the Guinness World Record for the oldest sweet shop. This venerable establishment truly deserves its spot among the top things to do in Pateley Bridge.

Discover the King Street Workshops

Carve out some time to explore the King Street Workshops. Opened to local artists in 1992, these spaces house a stunning variety of creative pieces. Take the opportunity to meet the artists and possibly purchase directly from them – an incredibly personal experience.

From hand-chiselled sculptures and vibrant mosaics to unique jewellery and ceramics, there’s something for every art enthusiast at the King Street Workshops.

Relax at the Recreation Ground

Especially delightful during the sun-soaked summer months, the Recreation Ground is a hub of activity with bands playing at the bandstand and family-friendly amenities like a children’s play area, basketball court, and bowling green.

Alternatively, there is ample green space to relax in the sun, have a picnic and read a book while soaking up the vibes of the town. Sunday afternoons are dedicated to the bandstands, and bands will perform from May to August, so be sure not to miss a session while you are here.

Experience the Nidderdale Show

Travelling often provides an enchanting window into local traditions, and Pateley Bridge is no exception. Among its treasures, you’ll find the illustrious Nidderdale Show. If your visit coincides with this annual event, usually held in late September, be sure to reserve a portion of your time for it. With the characteristic ambiance of the country’s many agricultural shows, this event is a beehive of vibrant activity, drawing in an impressive audience of around 15,000 spectators annually.

The Nidderdale Show aims to exhibit and celebrate the finest agricultural traditions, with competitors coming from all over the country to exhibit their animals, which are in prime condition at the end of the season. Achieving victory in this competition is a highly esteemed accolade, coveted by many. So witnessing the contests firsthand ranks among the top experiences in Pateley Bridge.

Stroll alongside the River Nidd

The river Nidd trail offers a peaceful walk, which can be continued into the Nidderdale countryside or shortened to retrace your steps to the village of Pateley Bridge. Nothing beats a date with nature, and I think this is one of the best things to do in Pateley Bridge, especially while sipping on a morning coffee from Alchemist Coffee Roasters.

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers a compelling reason to slip on your walking shoes and venture out for a leisurely walk or a more challenging hike. If you pursue the trail and make a right at the junction, you’ll find yourself navigating towards this remarkable haven of natural splendour.

Indulge in the local specialities

If you like good food, you’ll love Pateley Bridge. It’s not just ‘The Oldest Sweet Shop’ that will make your mouth water. Try the tasty afternoon tea at The Willow, the special chocolate drink at Cocoa Joes, or yummy pancakes and waffles from The Pancake House.

What strikes me most about this charming village is the distinctive character of each establishment, infusing the town with an irresistible allure. Although Pateley Bridge may seem small, it has a mighty culinary scene. So, you might want to stay a few extra days to taste everything here.

Go on a hike

one of the top activities in Pateley Bridge is visiting the nearby Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty. Hiking is a great way to see it. No matter your hiking skill level, from beginner to pro, you’ll find a trail that fits you. Choose a long trek or a short stroll; there are plenty of options in Nidderdale.

Short hikes

  • Bewerley Tree Trail (1.25 miles)
  • Pateley Bridge Circular Trail (9 miles)
  • Curlew Trail (3 miles)
  • Nought Moor Trail (4.7 miles)

Long Walks

  • The Nidderdale Way (53 miles)
  • The Six Dales Trail (38 miles)
  • The Yorkshire Heritage Way (42 miles)

You can select your favourite hike on the official Nidderdale website.

Get adventurous

If sightseeing and hiking are ticked off the bucket list, and you fancy a little adventure and perhaps a challenge, then don’t worry because there are plenty of opportunities to get that adrenaline rush you’ve been seeking. Of course, there are endless options for exciting activities, from kayaking and canoeing to horse riding and climbing, but perhaps you want to try out caving or give fishing a go, too, then you can do it all here.

Having an outdoor adventure is one of the top things to do in Pateley Bridge. Nidderdale offers some of the best adventure opportunities in Yorkshire. So, whether you’re experienced or looking to start a new hobby, this is the perfect place to join in on all the excitement.

Enjoy some stargazing

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a fantastic spot for stargazing. Like many dark sky parks in the country, there’s no light pollution to spoil your view of the starry sky. The trick is to go as far out as you can, bring a pair of binoculars, bundle up, and enjoy the show. Nidderdale has four official dark sky parks, and one-third of it is open moorland free of light pollution. This makes stargazing one of the top activities in Pateley Bridge.

The best stargazing time is from mid-August to early May when the skies are the darkest. But there’s also a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights, especially from November to February. You can also see the Milky Way, different planets, meteor showers, and even the International Space Station, which circles the earth every 90 minutes. So if catching the Aurora Borealis is on your to-do list and you’re in Nidderdale at the right time, make sure to check when’s the best time to see this amazing sight.

Pateley Bridge Guide

Where to stay

The Willow Bed & Breakfast – The Willow B&B offers a few choices for your cosy accommodation needs, with their guestrooms spread over two floors and private countryside cottages. Located right in the heart of Pateley Bridge, this is a fantastic option to be in the midst of this charming town, just a stone’s throw from all the local attractions. Book your stay at The Willow Bed & Breakfast.

Harefield Hall – This glorious countryside retreat is just 500m from the town centre, yet it feels a million miles away with its country feel and surrounding vistas. All of their well-decorated 12 rooms feature En suite bathrooms, and they have a variety of other accommodations to suit your preferences. As well as boasting 28 acres of woodland to enjoy, they have an onsite restaurant serving some delicious locally sourced meals. Book your stay at Harefield Hall.

The Sportsman’s Arms – Welcome to The Sportsmans Arms, a family-run inn just five minutes from Pateley Bridge town centre. Serving up locally sourced food at their onsite restaurant and having a cosy bar on site to grab a drink by the fire is a prime spot to feel at home while being close to all the best attractions. Their beautiful rooms include a full English breakfast which is complimentary, and the location in the Nidderdale valley ensures a relaxing stay in the English countryside. Book your stay at The Sportsman’s Arms.

How to get to Pateley Bridge

There are a few options for getting to the quaint market town of Pateley Bridge, and here are the best ways.

  • By Car – Pateley Bridge is easily accessible by car, and with it being just a stone’s throw from the Yorkshire Dales National Park, taking a car here is the best way to explore the region. You can expect a driving time of around 4.5 hours from London, 1hr45mins from Manchester and just 1 hour from Leeds.
  • By Train/Bus – The closest train station to Pateley Bridge is Harrogate, just a 30-minute bus ride away. Both Leeds and York stations service Harrogate.
  • By Plane – The closest airport is Leeds Bradford (30 mins), which is serviced by many airlines, including Aer Lingus, Jet2, Wizz, Ryanair and Easyjet, making it as easy as ever to get to Yorkshire.
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Jade Paleon writer contributor at You Could Travel

Jade Poleon – Jade Poleon is a free spirit who started travelling in 2007 and has visited over 90 countries, which inspired her passion for travel writing. She has been a freelance travel writer since 2013, having established her website, which led to her sharing her skills with numerous online publications, allowing her to live out both of her true passions.


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