Harrogate and Knaresborough

In between our 2 visits to York we had already decided to go to Harrogate.  Harrogate is an elegant spa town about 20 miles west of York, and it has a rich history as such.

We parked a little way before the town centre, paid our £2.80 for 2 hours, and walked in, keeping an eye on the time as we went.  There are numerous beautiful buildings and grand streets and hotels.  These were built for the hordes of wealthy Victorians, although it has been a spa town for much longer than that.

You can visit the Pump House museum for just a few pounds each, and it’s a very interesting visit, dealing with the growth of the town as a popular spa.  There are almost 100 thermal springs in the area, each of them providing different health benefits.

Other places of interest include The Royal Hall (originally named the Kursall, but re-named at the start of the 1st World War), the Royal Baths (now a Chinese restaurant), Crescent Gardens and the Turkish Baths which are still in use today.

There is also a Betty’s in Harrogate, as well as the 2 in York, so we finally got to have tea and cake in this iconic tearoom.  And what a lovely space it is, also with a shop attached where you can buy takeaway pastries etc.


Lemon meringue éclair in Bettys


Harrogate is a lovely place to visit and wander around, and it was a nice walk back to the car.  Where we found a penalty notice on the car – £25!  You can imagine!!  It turned out that our ticket had flipped upside down when we opened the boot to get our wet coats out.

Naturally we appealed, and I’m pleased to confirm that the ticket was overturned 🙂  Well done Harrogate Council….

On the way home we saw another sign for ‘Mother Shipton’s Cave’ in Knaresborough.  Curiosity got the better of us and we followed the signs.  It wasn’t particularly cheap to go in, but with only just over an hour to go until it closed we were let off the parking charge and given an information leaflet free.


It is actually the oldest tourist attraction in the country – open since 1630.  Mother Shipton was a famous prophet – apparently she foretold many of the major events in history, including the great fire of London.  Apparently she foretold the end of the world as being when the bridge in Knaresborough had fallen 3 times – it’s been massively strengthened since it’s 1st collapse…..

You will visit the cave in which Mother Shipton (or Ursula Sontheil) was born, and see the petrifying waterfall, which is where objects that are hung in it’s flow eventually turn to stone – it’s highly likely that you’ve seen this at some point on a travel programme.

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The walk down to the cave takes you alongside the River Nidd, gives views of the beautiful viaduct that straddles it (that was very controversial when it was 1st built – and did actually collapse shortly after it was first completed) and Beech Avenue (planted in 1739).  The walk is about 1 mile in total, down to the museum where you can see many objects that were left by famous names to be petrified in the cascading water.

There is also a really good children’s play area by a picnic area.  As we were the only people around on our way back we both had a little go on the zipwire 🙂

From this walk you can see the ruins of Knaresborough Castle on the other side of the river.  We headed over to have a look after we’d finished at Mother Shipton’s.

It was actually closed (time was getting on..), but we noted more benches with legs shaped as snakes (which we’d also seen in Harrogate) and also a bowling green within the castle grounds.  There were also more wonderful views across the river.

Driving around Knaresborough, exploring, we found a narrow lane, down which we found the Chapel of Our Lady in the Crag; as we ventured further down the lane we found a number of wooden sculptures, which were pretty amazing.  The lane itself was a dead-end but we did get out a couple of times and walk up the path up the hill to see the views.


Chapel of our Lady in the Crag – Knaresborough


So Knaresborough was worthy of a whole day out on it’s own.  Who knew?  Not us, that’s for sure!  Don’t miss out on this little gem by the river 🙂

Next up the remainder of our time in the Yorkshire Dales – Grassington, Fountains Abbey, the Buttertubs Pass, Muker, Castle Bolton and Leyburn…


Author: MandoraTheExplorer

Having given up full-time work we currently work a year to travel for 4-5 months, and we're hoping to continue this until we can retire properly! Currently living, and loving, life to the full :)

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