So, you’ve been to the National Railway Museum. You’ve done Jorvik. That’s all well and good and you look like a total badass in your plastic Viking’s helmet and locomotive-print apron. But whilst it’s been great, it’s also been a little tame, and deep down you are an adventurer.
You’re an adventurer and you positively yearn for an experience that’s a little more first-hand, that’s swathed in mystery and that’s actually ever so slightly dangerous… Sequestered amidst the rolling hills of nearby Nidderdale, an unsung jewel in Yorkshire’s geographical crown and former Victorian tourist hotspot known as How Stean Gorge might just offer exactly the kind of experience you’re looking for.
Hidden in the depths of a limestone valley, the gorge is banked by undulating edifices of mossy rock, covered in verdant plant matter which spills luxuriantly earthwards and hangs speckled with spray from the surging water below. Hewn and built into the rock, a series of walkways and bridges offers an intimate window into this immersive landscape. And seeing as you’re feeling adventurous I suppose you’ll fancy getting your feet wet? At the gorge’s extremities it’s pretty safe to paddle as long as you’re not an idiot. Just don’t attempt it amidst the thundering waters around the centre of the gorge, because whilst you might be out for a little exhilaration, you probably don’t want to be maimed, mangled or drowned.
One fellow who may well have subjected a few unfortunates to maiming, mangling or drowning in his time, was highwayman Tom Taylor. Local hearsay is that once upon a time this felon used a deep cave accessible from the gorge as his hideout. Pitch black and swimming with atmosphere, the long cavity known as Tom Taylor’s cave stretches all the way from the gorge up into a nearby field. Be sure to pack your torch. Be sure to pack your cojones. A voyage through this subterranean passage definitely represents a pretty exciting finale to the How Stean Gorge adventure.
Sound fun? Of course it does. If simply walking around the gorge doesn’t sound sufficiently extreme for you then you’ll be pleased to hear that kilometre long chasm also plays host to rock-climbing, caving and canoeing. You can read about all that here. Put on some wellies, don some galoshes, maybe even get naked and just be discrete about it. However you like to prepare for the great outdoors is pretty much immaterial. It’s out there, it’s relatively accessible and it’s a heck of a day out amidst a landscape that’s straight out of Jurassic Park.