Anyone having a short break in Harrogate is spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning garden walks, not to mention some splendid parks for idling away a few hours. And if you think ‘seen one garden, seen ‘em all’, you’ll be amazed at the variety of what’s on offer in this beautiful part of North Yorkshire.
Located just off Harrogate’s town centre and within easy walking distance from hotels and guesthouses, these English Heritage Grade II gardens are on a site originally known as Bogs Field. The numerous sulphur and chalybeate springs that lay beneath the field originally drew visitors to take their ‘curative powers’. Because of the influx of visitors, the transformation of Bogs Field into a public park began in 1847. Since then, the 17 acres delight thousands of visitors each year. In recent years, the gardens have become known for their biodiversity and animal habitats. The Sun Pavilion harks back to a bygone era, with its Art Deco glass dome. Watch the 1933 opening ceremony here. As well as delighting in the array of flowering displays, from April to October, you can enjoy outdoor games such as tennis, pitch and putt, and crazy golf. And you can let the young ones splash around in the paddling pool. Find out more about what goes on in the Valley Gardens here.
RHS Garden Harlow Carr
Just two miles from the centre of Harrogate lies Harlow Carr Gardens. Set across 68 acres, the gardens were originally set up to test how well different species of plant would grow in the north of England. As you might expect from a garden run by the Royal Horticultural Society, you’ll experience incredibly diverse garden landscapes. The long streamside garden is a highlight, as are the 24M Alpine glasshouse and kitchen garden. They even have a winter walk to show that regardless of when you visit, the landscapes still exude their beauty. There’s the obligatory gift shop and rather excellent nursery, where knowledgeable staff will help you choose the right plant. And if you visit the gardens, don’t miss ordering afternoon tea at the renowned Bettys Café Tea Rooms. See the website for ticket prices and further details.
Small but perfectly formed, these compact gardens are situated near Knaresborough Castle and the River Nidd. This hidden gem has beautiful walkways that promise visitors a tranquil respite from bustling Knaresborough. Formerly known as Moat Gardens, they’re built on a steep slope, so may not be suitable for the elderly or disabled. The gardens can be accessed from Brewerton Street, Knaresborough, HG5 8AZ. Just down the road from Harrogate, Knaresborough is easily reached via car, bus, or train from Harrogate.
Ripley Castle and Gardens
For 710 years, the Ingilby family has resided at Ripley Castle. Steeped in political and religious history, the Tudor Castle saw James I as a guest and Oliver Cromwell as a prisoner. Several of the members of the Gunpowder Plot were close relatives of the family. While a guided tour of the castle is highly recommended, strolling around the grounds (reputedly designed by Capability Brown) is a delight to the soul and will help you unwind. Walking the perimeter of the serpentine lake is a great way to take in the different landscapes. The walled garden houses some impressive tropical plants, and there are oak trees over 1,000 years old in the deer park. This exceptional site is just three miles from the town centre of Harrogate. Visit the Ripley Castle website here.
Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park
Although only a 30-minute drive from Harrogate, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported across the world when you visit the unique Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park. Set across 45 acres, the garden is home to a vast collection of rare rhododendrons, azaleas, and magnolias. In addition to over 20,000 plants, there are 75 striking sculptures set against dramatic backdrops of colour. The park is set within a beautiful valley, enhanced by three lakes and woodland, as well as structures such as a pagoda and a Norse hut. Follow the sculpture trail or just go where the wind takes you. The children’s play area and tea room add the finishing touches to this perfect day out. The park is open from April to mid-July, and from October to the beginning of November. For more information, visit their website.
Whatever your reason for visiting the area, be sure to include at least some of these garden walks near Harrogate.