Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire, England, affectionately referred to as the ‘gateway to the Dales’ nestled between with the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the west and the vale of York to the east.
The name Harrogate was first declared in the 1330s as Harwegate, Harougat and Harrowgate. The origin of the name is uncertain. The first mineral springs were discovered in 1571, being rich in sulphur and chalybeate (iron salts) they possessed similar properties to the springs in the town of Spa in Belgium, which gave its name to spa towns.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Harrogate became a popular spa resort among the English élite and frequented by nobility from mainland Europe who visited to enjoy the local spring water.
Harrogate is prosperous town and with an abundance of Georgian architecture and commands some of the highest property prices in England, with many properties in the town and surrounding villages valued over £1 million. In 2005 Channel4 Television, listed Harrogate as the third best place to live in the Country. In 2013 and for three consecutive years, the British property website Rightmove ranked Harrogate as the “happiest place” to live in the UK.
Harrogate still attracts millions of visitors today and its spring water is exported worldwide. No visit to Harrogate is complete without afternoon tea at Betty’s tea rooms. Owned by Taylors of Harrogate (makers of Yorkshire Tea) is a major tourist attraction and always busy. Farrah’s Toffee also made in Harrogate since 1840, was created to clear the palate of the rich sulphur taste of the healing properties of the local spring water.
The town is also home of the Great Yorkshire Show each year and Harrogate District Hospital also has the best cancer care of any hospital in England. Harrogate’s famous ‘Stray’ created in 1778 and linking most of Harrogate’s springs is protected by an act of Parliament and consists of 200 acres of open parkland in the centre of the town. During the Victorian era, horse races were held on the Stray.
Valley Gardens and award winning themed gardens at RHS Harlow Carr gardens attract horticulture enthusiasts throughout the year.
In 2003 and again in 2016 Harrogate won the Britain in Bloom ‘Large Town’ category.
In 2004 Harrogate not only repeated its success of 1977, winning the European Entente Florale for the second time, but also a gold medal of Europe in Bloom.
1982 saw the town host the Eurovision Song Contest in the international conference centre.
In 2014 Harrogate became the finish line for the first stage of the Tour de France. The world’s oldest road cycle race attracted record crowds and was screened around the world putting Harrogate firmly on the map.
Visiting Harrogate today is easy, being served by an excellent road and rail network. Buses run every 15 minutes to the Cities of Leeds and Ripon. A regular train service runs every 30 minutes to Leeds and every hour to York. The nearest airport is Leeds and Bradford, which has a regular coach service to Harrogate from the arrivals terminal.
Isn’t it time you visited Harrogate?