The small town of Pateley Bridge sits at the point where the hills that border Nidderdale first reach an altitude of 1,000ft, and the town owned much of its early prosperity to this position on the border between upland and lowland, which made it an ideal market centre.
The town became an important market centre during the fourteenth century, in a period when it was surrounded by important monastic estates - the road west to Grassington was the Monastic road from Fountains Abbey to Wharfedale. Other good roads led east to Ripon, south east to Harrogate and south to Otley.
There has been a river crossing at Pateley Bridge for at least 2,000 years, and industrial activity can be traced back almost as far, to Roman lead mines at Greenhow, on the hills to the west. Stone quarrying and lead mining remained important around Pateley Bridge into the nineteenth century.
The town was a centre of water-powered linen production until the start of the nineteenth century, when steam powered mills closer to the coal fields took over. The mills then turned to the manufacture of cord and rope. By the late nineteenth century the town supported two breweries, and was becoming an important agricultural centre. The Nidderdale Agricultural Show still takes place every year, on the Monday nearest to 20 September
The current church of St Cuthbert was built in 1827, replacing the medieval church of St. Mary, whose remains can be found on the minor road that climbs up onto the hills east of the town.
South-east of the town the route of the Nidderdale Way takes it along the Panorama Walk, 300 feet above the River Nidd. The minor roads up Nidderdale also lead to fine walking country, with the added bonus of the Nidderldale reservoirs, which start with Gouthwaite Reservoir, two miles up the valley.
The town also contains the Nidderdale Museum, built in a former workhouse. The museum contains a series of exhibits looking at life in Nidderdale over the centuries.