Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I shared how Mary, Queen of Scots, was caught plotting against Queen Elizabeth because her cipher was too easy to break. Tina reviewed Northern Spy by Flynn Berry about The Troubles in Ireland.
One of my COVID shelter-in-place coping mechanisms is fantasy travel. This week, I’m going to Harrogate, an old spa town in Yorkshire.
I’m torn on accommodations. Should I go for the traditional Old Swan Hotel with its more than 200 years of history of hospitality? Or for the very modern spa resort, Rudding Park? If my choice is Rudding Park, my fantasy needs to include a car and an ability to drive on the left side of the road. The Old Swan Hotel, on the other hand, is a couple of blocks from the main historic center of Harrogate.
At either location, I’ll be among the health-seeking visitors who have journeyed to Harrogate since mineral springs were discovered there in the 16th century. Many Georgian buildings exist to this day, including The Royal Pump Room where glasses of the sulphury water were provided to guests each morning. That building now houses a museum dedicated to telling the history of Harrogate. I always think that the local history museum is the best first stop when visiting a new town.
Harrogate is a perfect place for garden lovers. The Valley Gardens were developed for spa visitors and include historic buildings and several of the original springs. Harlow Carr is a modern botanical garden run by the Royal Horticultural Society. I love that it has a kitchen garden display to help local gardeners with their fruits and veggies.
Bettys Tea Room has been serving tea for over 100 years in Harrogate. Afternoon tea would make a comforting break on a day of visiting museums or gardens.
Spofforth Castle would be a great destination for a day trip with a picnic lunch. The castle is in ruins, but the remaining stone walls are glorious with arched window and door openings, a tower suitable for Rapunzel, and grassy grounds. I’d like to spend some time on those grounds imagining what the building looked like in its glory days and what the lives were like for the people who lived and visited there.
Have you been to Harrogate? Would you like to visit there?