Stay at home: Harrogate

The pearl of North Yorkshire, Harrogate is the handsome spa town that's kept its sheen — and the ideal base for exploring the surrounding Yorkshire Dales.

By Glen Mutel
Published 12 May 2017, 09:00 BST, Updated 8 Jul 2021, 15:02 BST

Brimham Rocks, Nidderdale Area of Outsanding Natural Beauty.

Photograph by Getty Images

What to do
Harrogate's an ideal base for a trek into the Yorkshire Dales — an area full of satisfying routes. Think deep valleys rich with sheep, cows and even lamas; dry stonewalls; windy rivers and ancient bridges. The walk from Brimham Rocks to the pretty village of Pateley Bridge is especially stunning.

Where to eat
Bettys Café Tea Rooms offers a dizzying array of breads, cakes and chocolates. Head right for the takeaway bakery, or left to the Café Tea Rooms for the afternoon tea.

Where to stay
Nothing could be more in keeping with Harrogate's reputation than a restored Victorian hotel in sweeping grounds. Step forward the Majestic Hotel, complete with a pool, spa and restaurant, plus helpful staff and rooms with great views.

We like
While Harrogate's history as a spa town is neatly showcased in the Royal Pump Room Museum, the restored Turkish Baths & Health Spa is perhaps more fun. Spend some time in its three heated chambers and recover in the relaxation room.

Don't miss
Situated in the nearby Nidderdale Area of Outsanding Natural Beauty, Brimham Rocks are otherworldly balancing rock formations up to 30ft high. Arranged in unstable-looking piles, they really must be seen to be believed — particularly Idol Rock, a huge 200-ton monster, balanced implausibly on a miniscule rocky pyramid.

Published in the June 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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