Harrogate is a wonderful town in North Yorkshire, east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It has a rich and rather unusual heritage; it was well renowned as a fashionable Spa Town - dating as far back as the 16th Century. In 1571, the Tweit Well Spring was found in High Harrogate and the water from it was found to be medicinal. Soon people from all over the country were flocking to Harrogate to drink - or bathe in - the mineral springwater and the Harrogate Spa era was born. Today there are over 100 springs known in and around Harrogate and the town is still a highly regarded place for spas and restorative treatments. The Royal Pump Room is a Grade II listed building, formerly a spa water pump house; it now houses the towns museum and there is plenty of information about the history of the spa. Today you can still enjoy the water at Harrogate's Turkish Baths - Britains most fully restored Victorian Turkish bath - an elaborate and vibrant building with painted ceilings, terrazzo floors and elegant features.
If you want to keep your clothes on, just swig a bottle of Harrogate Spring water and head out to explore. The town itself is very pretty and full of boutique shops and eateries (do not miss a trip to the 100 year old Betty's Tea shop to take home cakes for those who couldn't come on holiday) and there are often lots of cultural and foodie events going on here. A unique feature of Harrogate is the huge open space surrounding the town, known locally as The Stray and is 200 acres of public parkland with areas to walk and relax and playgrounds for younger children.
Further out in nearby Knaresborough, wander through the pretty forest to visit Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrified Well (it's to do with the sulphate and carbonate water, it isn't scared), the latter being the oldest attraction in England dating back to 1630. Legend says that Mother Shipton - a local lady and Seer - was born and raised in the cave until she was 2. As she grew older, she made remedies for the sick and also foretold the future. Amongst other things she predicted the Great Fire of London and the defeat of the Spanish Armanda. Spooky.
Nearby Knaresbrough Castle and Ripley Castle are also well worth and visit and of course, you have the glorious Yorkshire Dales to hike around. Harrogate is a fantastic town, worthy of a visit in its own right, but also a great base for exploring the stunning surrounding area.
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