Town and Country

A walk from The Inn at Cheltenham Parade, Harrogate | 4¾ miles

Harrogate is famed for its wide open spaces or Strays, as they're called. But the town's environs include other landscapes you'd more expect to find in the country.

The outgoing route to Harlow Carr is very easy-going and well-surfaced. Birk Crag includes some steep inclines and declines and can get muddy.

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Within just a few minutes of setting off on this route you will walk through the Valley Gardens, a former Victorian pleasure grounds, then straight into the contrasting Pinewoods with a superb viewpoint complete with binocular telescope.

Extend your walk with a wander around the RHS Harlow Carr Gardens, also an ideal halfway house for a cuppa. Your return route passes through woodland around Birk Crag and down to Oak Beck, a perfect place for youngsters to explore.


Turn right out of The Inn at Cheltenham Parade and, in front of Convention Centre, turn left. Cross at the lights and keep ahead up Crescent Road passing the Turkish baths and Royal Pump Room Museum to enter Valley Gardens.

Follow the left path (Elgar Walk) to the Japanese garden. Turn right to follow the sign to Pinewoods and RHS Harlow Carr, passing in front of a shelter.

Turn left just before Magnesia Well onto Tarmac path.


At the war memorial fork right into Pinewoods and follow signs to RHS Harlow Carr and Birk Crag. Eventually, at the road turn right, then soon left, down drive signed to the Harrogate Arms and Stables.

Walk past the former pub (due to be converted into a café in 2023) then at the double gates turn right through handgate onto footpath.


After the bridge over culvert follow fingerpost on right signed Ringway footpath which drops down to beck.

Pass over two footbridges and up an incline then bear right, choosing the higher path. Just after Birk Crag House turn left and down the steps.

Bear right at the bottom, keeping the beck on the left.


Leave the wood and then turn sharp left onto the road, and almost immediately sharp right onto the unsurfaced Kent Rd.

After ¼ mile turn left down the fenced path (easy to miss), again signed for Ringway footpath. Bear right at the end of passage. Initially the path goes along the top of valley and then bears sharp left to descend to the beck.

Follow path as it bears right, up and away from the beck via railed steps.


Emerge at the road to the golf club. Turn right and, at T-junction with Oakdale, continue ahead up the stepped footpath.

Turn right onto Kent Rd, left onto Kent Ave, left again onto Duchy Rd and right onto Clarence Drive. Cross Cornwall Rd and enter Valley Gardens via the archway.

Return to The Inn at Cheltenham Parade the way you came.

And what about lunch?

The Inn at Cheltenham Parade. The hotel has the calming, friendly feel of a country inn yet comes with all the benefits of a town.

What are the best bits?

Valley Gardens: The landscaped gardens were developed from the mid-19th century to connect the Royal Pump Room to the 36 mineral springs at Bogs Wells served by the Magnesia Well pump room which today is a café. The original well also still exists as a Gothic Hansel and Gretel-type cottage. Look out too for the Japanese and New Zealand gardens as well as the Sun pavilion, colonnade and bandstand.

Pinewoods: The woods consists of 75 acres of predominantly Scots pines and were transformed from rough moor in Edwardian times to link Valley Gardens to Harlow Carr. Pause at the Pinewoods Panorama viewpoint and use the binocular telescope to spot Buckden Pike in Upper Wharfedale, Fountains Abbey and the White Horse in the North York Moors.

Harlow Carr Gardens: Operated by the Royal Horticultural Society and one of the foremost gardens in northern England, Harlow Carr includes woodland, scented, tropicana and kitchen gardens, an Alpine house, lake, wildflower meadows, an arboretum, plant shop and branch of Bettys Café. Allow plenty of time for a full visit.

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