Mum, Dad and I first visited the beautiful spa town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire some years ago. Move forward a decade or two and we were back there for a week’s break.
We stayed in the charming Cairn Hotel, which dates back to Victorian times when many a visitor came to the town to enjoy the waters. And it really is like taking a step back in time as the hotel retains many of its original features. We dined in for breakfast and our evening meal in the lavish Windsor restaurant, where we were spoiled with freshly cooked local produce and plenty to choose from.
The hotel is only five minutes away from the bustling town centre. We strolled around the town and wandered into a few shops, but the highlight of the town has to be the infamous Betty’s Café Tea Rooms. They have been serving tea there for almost one hundred years and when you step inside, it’s like time stands still. That is, when you can get inside. It’s not uncommon to have to queue to get through the door. But once you’re in, it’s worth the wait. From mouth-watering cakes, to sumptuous savouries, there’s something for everyone.
A few minutes out of Harrogate centre and there are lots of interesting places to visit. One particular favourite has to be Knaresborough, with its magnificent Medieval streets and stone staircases. The views from Knaresborough Castle are stunning as it sits proudly overlooking the River Nidd. We also found ourselves having a chat with the resident ravens, who are stunning creatures to see. Next to the castle is the perfectly preserved Tudor courtroom. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention as I witnessed where the accused would have stood. I almost felt as if I was going to be marched off to the dungeons at any moment.
Thankfully I wasn’t, which meant we were able to take a trip to York. This historic city takes your breath away, from the staggering structure of York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, to the narrow streets of The Shambles, with their traditional timber-framed buildings dating back to the 14th century, to The National Railway Museum, with its captivating carriages and majestic steam engines. We also sat back and enjoyed a boat trip along the River Ouse, where we were able to see the city from a different perspective.
Our week passed all too quickly and I haven’t even had time to mention our days out at the impressive Harewood House, Leeds and The Work House at Ripon. And we feel that there’s still a lot more to see. I don’t think it’ll be another decade or so before we go back…