You might have passed a collection of what appears to look like giant “golf balls” on your travels around North Yorkshire, which has been described as one of the most secret places in the UK.

If you have ever wondered what goes on beyond the gleaming round spheres, you are not alone.

They belong to RAF Menwith Hill owned by the Ministry of Defence, a 500-acre spy base located just outside of Harrogate.

What is the purpose of RAF Menwith Hill?

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RAF Menwith Hill is run by UK and US staff, the BBC adds: “Hundreds of personnel from a number of international intelligence bodies, including staff from the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and America's National Security Agency (NSA), operate from the base.”

It was established in 1954 and was originally given to America by the British War Office to increase US “military power” during the Cold War until 1966.

“The military base deals with intelligence and communication services. It is said to be the widest and most important monitoring site in the world,” explains

“It hosts a few massive satellite grounds, not to mention about some missile warning services.”

York Press: There are 37 giant radomes in total at RAF Menwith Hill There are 37 giant radomes in total at RAF Menwith Hill (Image: Getty)

What are the domes at RAF Menwith Hill?

RAF Menwith Hill has 37 giant radomes, often compared to huge "golf balls" on its grounds, which protect antennas from the weather.

Do people live at RAF Menwith Hill?

RAF Menwith Hill is said to have a “self-contained” community with numerous leisure facilities for the hundreds of UK and US workers who live there, reports The Mirror.

It’s said to have “a small pool hall, a bar, a fast-food restaurant, a general store, a bowling alley and a running track.”

Earlier this year, plans were revealed to expand RAF Menwith Hill, including new buildings and a road on the northern side of the base.

Before submitting a full planning application, a request for EIA Screening Opinion was given to North Yorkshire Council in May 2023.

The expansion would include a new administration block and access roads.

Other amendments were also listed such as a refuelling bay, footpaths, a small car park and a secure perimeter fence surrounding the facilities.