Harrogate,Knaresborough & Ripley
My expectation was of a rural idyll on the outskirts of Harrogate; it is strange how the name of the site did not translate into the illusions that I had in mind. It is an open site with park homes on one side and statics and permanently sited caravans on the other, with a field in the middle, which I assume would be for tents and in front of the field were two areas for tourers.
It is nevertheless a well-kept site and we had an excellent reception. The toilet block was always clean but there was only one shower in each of the ladies and gents with one other which doubled as a family room and disabled facility, though there was no ramp into the block. We experienced no problems re delays but it could be a different ball game in busier periods. There is no motorhome service point but there are 4 fully serviced pitches and hard standings are available.
The real plus of the site is its position, on a direct cycle route to Knaresborough, about 2 miles, by turning left out of the site, along Bilton Lane. The descent into Knaresborough is reasonably steep and the ascent from the river to the town and the castle is very steep.
An alternative is to walk but rather than taking the cycleway, turn right out of the site and take the first footpath on your right, signposted to Nidd Gorge. You cross open farm land before the path descends to the river and you turn right and follow it into Knaresborough.
Alternatively you can turn left and follow the river to the Nidd Viaduct, which took the old railway over the river and is now a cycle route into Ripley and Harrogate. If you turn left at the viaduct you have a circular walk back to the campsite. In May the walk by the river was stunningly beautiful, with bluebells, wood anemones and wild garlic.
With regard to Knaresborough, you will not be disappointed;
it is a gorgeously beautiful town with cafes running alongside the river where
you can choose to eat or take a drink or if you are feeling more energetic take
a boat out, though on a beautifully sunny Sunday it was a bit like ‘Piccadilly
Circus in the Rush Hour’ and it was great fun watching the rowers trying to
navigate their boats.
The town has everything you could ask for, a stunning river location, an impressive railway viaduct over the river, a ruined castle, dismantled in the ‘English Civil War’ and a pleasant market square and it even has its own ravens. As a result, understandably it proves to be very popular and more so at the weekends and on this weekend there was a folk dancing festival.
Turn right out of the site and walk past the pub, ‘The Gardeners Arms’ which looks like it was an old agricultural pub and it looks like it has not been altered in years and was very atmospheric. It also has a large garden which proves to be very popular; it may have something to do with the fact that it is a Sam Smith’s pub and the beer is cheap.
You pass the pub and pick up the cycle way into Harrogate, it is only about a 40 minute walk from the campsite.
Harrogate is a pleasant enough town, though my expectations were somewhat higher as everyone raves about it. There is an older area, Montpelier, which is quite
atmospheric, and some other attractive buildings and some pleasant open spaces. There are some fine examples of wrought iron work, of which the bus station provides fine examples but other parts of the town are like any other high street.
It is also famous for Bettys the iconic Edwardian café with its very attractive frontage, though we decided to give it a miss as we hit it at the weekend and we have since given up on queuing. We found a lovely alternative overlooking the gardens.
We had a very pleasant lunch at Timberlakes in Montpelier.
If you turn right along the cycle way, after about 3 miles you come to Ripley. The cycle way is very attractive and as it follows an old railway line, it is easy cycling. The village is very pretty and one of its star attractions is Ripley Castle, a 14th century fortified house. Entry to the house on weekdays is half the price of summer weekends an also the gardens are free to visit on weekdays.
There is a nice café before the entrance to the castle and a good pub, ‘The Boar’s Head’.
We also cycled up the lane past the castle and part of the
cycle route to Ripon. This is a bit up and down and it is a popular walk but it
is beautiful and some of the best bluebells seen, comparing very favourably
with ours in Bucks.