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Harrogate & District Walks

The Stray

Date: 7th May 2015
Distance: 3.2 miles
Ascent: 106ft
Time: 1 hour 15 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE305554

Walk Summary:
A lovely evening walk around The Stray, one of the great features of Harrogate, including some interesting bits of local history.

Route Summary: Park View - Kingsway - High Harrogate - St John's Well - Slingsby Walk - Tewit Well - West Park - Oxford Street - Park View

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The ginnel leading out on to the Stray
Tulips in High Harrogate
The path alongside The Stray between Claro Road and Knaresborough Road
The former Granby Hotel now the Granby Court Care Home
A plaque explaining some of the history of the former Granby Hotel
Walking across the Stray towards St John's Well
The former St John's Well, one of the chalybeate wells in Harrogate
Memorial to the nine soldiers who died whilst being treated for their wounds in the nearby hospital during WWI
Wedderburn House, the home of Alexander Wedderburn, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain between 1793-1801
The path known as 'Slingsby Walk' which runs along the south side of The Stray
Evening shadows on The Stray
Tewit Well, site of the first spring to be discovered in Harrogate
Cherry blossoms, one of the great sights on The Stray in late springtime
Some more of the cherry blossoms
Stone and plaque marking the location of Brunswick Station, Harrogate's original railway station
An old hand pump, presumably part of the old railway station
Heading across The Stray towards West Park
The north-western terminus of The Stray at Montpellier
A stain glass memorial to the spot where the finish line was located in the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France
The cenotaph memorial to Harrogate's sons who died fighting in the First and Second World Wars

Walk Detail: The Stray is one of the great features of my hometown Harrogate. More rarely known by the alternative name of The Two Hundred Acres, the Stray is a large open parkland created in 1778 by an Act of Parliament and which today surrounds the southern half of the town centre. It is one of a number of areas of Harrogate that, for a while now, I've been meaning to properly 'walk' and photograph for this website.

Starting from the public car park on the corner of East Parade and Park View I set off down the latter. After crossing Harcourt Road a tree-lined path and a narrow ginnel led me on to Regent Parade and the north-eastern corner of the Stray in what was once the independent village of High Harrogate. After pausing to take some pictures of a colourful flower bed of tulips I crossed over Skipton Road and walked south along the eastern edge of the Stray. Along the way I passed Granby Court Care Home, formerly the Granby Hotel which used to be one of the main hotels in Harrogate during its spa town heyday.

Crossing over Knaresborough Road I next made a beeline across this section of the Stray to the octagonal building housing St John's Well. A chalybeate spring discovered in 1631 by a Dr M Stanhope the present building covering it was built in 1842 by the same architect who designed the Royal Pump Rooms. Today the building houses a habadashery. Just south of St John's Well alongside Wetherby Road is a memorial cross which was donated by Grand Duchess George of Russia and is dedicated to the nine soldiers who died out of almost 1,200 wounded servicemen who were treated in Harrogate for their wounds between 1914-1919.

Crossing over Wetherby Road I next followed the footpath called Slingsby Walk which follows almost the entire southern edge of the Stray. The path is named after William Slingsby who in 1571 discovered the first spring in Harrogate and which later became Tewit Well. There are quite a few grand houses alongside Slingsby Walk, one of which is Wedderburn House, one time residence of Alexander Wedderburn who served as Lord Chancellor of Great Britain between 1793-1801.

Crossing a bridge over the Harrogate to Leeds railway line I next came across the temple like structure covering Tewit Well. Lining both the adjacent path and a nearby path criss-crossing this section of the Stray were some lovely cherry blossom trees. It was the opportunity to photograph these in full bloom that was one of the main reasons that I'd set out to do this particular walk.

After taking numerous pictures of the cherry blossoms I crossed Leeds Road to visit a large boulder marking the site of Brunswick Station, the first railway station in Harrogate. It lasted only 14 years between 1848-1862 before it was replaced by the current railway station. Presumably the nearby hand pump is the only remnant of the old station.

To conclude the walk I crossed over Otley Road before walking along the section of the Stray alongside West Park to soon reach the road dropping down to Montpellier and the far north-western corner of the Stray. From there I crossed over to the cenotaph and walked back through the empty streets of the town centre back to the car.

This was a fine way to pass an hour and a quarter on a glorious late spring evening. Not only had I finally got round to photographing the cherry blossoms but, as an added bonus, I'd learned a lot more about my hometown's history and spa heritage.

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