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Last night, we returned to one of our favourite rural car park stopovers, adjacent to Brimham Rocks, a few miles from Ripon in North Yorkshire.

The trip had originally been planned to take place later in the week, but with a new national lockdown announced at the weekend, it was brought forward.

We enjoyed a quiet night in our trusty campervan, with only one other van parked nearby, and this morning, the sunrise reminded us exactly why we love this location. Having backed into the parking space, it meant we were looking from the back of the van, out across the moors towards Ripon and Harrogate in the distance. And what a beautiful sunrise it was…

It’s only a small, rural cark park, which can accommodate no more than three vans, or probably 4 or 5 small cars at a squeeze. Its location makes it perfect for accessing Brimham Rocks, which is managed by the National Trust who charge an eye-watering £9 for all-day car parking to non-members (but no other entrance fee to the area, which is why this, and a couple of other nearby parking spaces, are very popular).

Having enjoyed our ‘breakfast with a view’, we headed towards the National Trust car park (we’re members, so car parking is free), ready to embark upon a day by the Rocks.

Brimham Rocks, covering an area of 454 acres, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and is commonly believed to have been created by an immense river 100 million years before the first dinosaurs walked the earth. So… a long time ago, then.

What makes the area so fascinating, and an absolute joy to visit, are the many rocks, eroded by water and the weather, that have assumed amazing shapes and formations.

Naturally, these formations have acquired names over the years…

The Idol Stone, for example, looks like it is balancing precariously on top of a small rock, and makes for a great photo opportunity.

Although early theories believed that they might have been carved out by the Druids, these theories had more or less died out by the 20th Century, in light of a greater understanding of how they had more likely been formed, by natural forces. Despite such enlightenment, many of the rocks still bare druid-related names, such as Druid’s Idol, Druid’s Altar and Druid’s Writing Desk.

There are so many of the rocks that have been given names, that I’m not going to name them here (I’m not sure I could match them all up to their respective names, anyway). The Dancing Bear is one of my favourites…

Needless to say, we had a fantastic day wandering amongst the rocks, climbing a few of them here and there – I say ‘climbing’, though I really mean scrambling where there were sufficient ledges and footholds… the last time we visited Brimham in 2015, I fell and seriously injured my leg, that took several weeks to heal before I was able to walk properly… so I’m now naturally very cautious.

There were a few other people about too, clearly making use of their last day before the second lockdown comes into force, and there were even a few proper rock climbers making their way up the steeper sides of the outer crags, with ropes and stuff.

We ate our lunch sat on a rock overlooking the hills and fields rolling away towards Pately Bridge and beyond. When the sun was out (which was most of the time), it was warm; when the sun disappeared behind clouds, the temperature dropped quite dramatically – reminding us that it is, in fact, November.

If you’ve never been to Brimham Rocks, then I heartily recommend it. Kids and adults of all ages love it.. it’s like a playground carved out by nature.

It’s not just rocks, either; There are many trees in the area, all of which were adding some welcome autumnal colour to the experience. By the time we finally made our way back to the car park, the battery on my camera had been exhausted, and we headed home with lots of good memories and some cracking photographs.

Peter Woolley

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