Brimham Rocks - Putting the Yorkshire landscape squarely in the frame

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson
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There are few landscapes in the North of England as impressive or striking as Brimham Rocks.

Perched on a hill overlooking Summerbridge and Lower Nidderdale these wonderful shaped millstone grit outcrops, sculpted by erosion during the last ice age, are like circus artists frozen in time performing a high-wire act.

Some of the rocks are as tall as 30 metres in places creating a labyrinth of paths through the landscape. No less intriguing are the names some of these rock formations have acquired over the years and there is fun to be had working out which is the Dancing Bear, the Smartie Tube and the Camel.

Those who venture up to this popular North Yorkshire tourist spot will also find another somewhat incongruous sight - a large metal picture frame and stand set amongst the rocks.

It is actually there for a reason. The rugged Yorkshire landscape has long inspired Ashley Jackson and a few years ago the acclaimed watercolour artist teamed up with the National Trust and the University of Huddersfield to place a series of free-standing picture frames in some of the county’s most recognisable settings, with the idea of putting these great, natural landmarks “firmly in the frame.”

The first was installed at Wessenden Moor in 2014, followed by others at Roseberry Topping, Hardcastle Crags, Holme Moss and here at Brimham Rocks.

A Rock climber at Brimham Rocks.  24 May 2016.

A Rock climber at Brimham Rocks. 24 May 2016.

Jackson is famed for his brooding moorland scenes and has been painting what he calls his “Yorkshire mistress” for the past 60 years, and the idea behind his Framing the Landscape project is to encourage people, particularly children, “not just to look, but to see” the landscape around them.

He isn’t the only artist to have been inspired by Brimham Rocks. It was the inspiration behind an artwork by Marcus Coates which was shortlisted for a place on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2013, while the music aficionados amongst you will know that it played a cameo role in the Bee Gees’ video for their number one hit single You Win Again.

Technical Details: Nikon D3s, 28-70 Nikkor, 250th @ f11, 200asa

Picture by Tony Johnson

Starscape at Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale showing the Milky Way on the first cold clear night of the winter. 2014.

Starscape at Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale showing the Milky Way on the first cold clear night of the winter. 2014.

Words by Chris Bond

The first covering of snow in 2000.  Joseph Morley 7 from  Harrogate stood on one of the snow covered rocks.

The first covering of snow in 2000. Joseph Morley 7 from Harrogate stood on one of the snow covered rocks.

Brimham Rocks. 7th April 2003.

Brimham Rocks. 7th April 2003.

Brimham Rocks, September 1966

Brimham Rocks, September 1966

Brimham Rocks, 12th  March 1962

Brimham Rocks, 12th March 1962

Brimham Rocks, 6th October 1952

Brimham Rocks, 6th October 1952

Brimham Rocks, 11th May 1936

Brimham Rocks, 11th May 1936