A walk from the northern entrance of Valley Gardens taking in Pinewoods and RHS Harlow Carr and returning via Birk Crag.


Great British Life: The Old Magnesia Well Pump Room, Valley Gardens. The Old Magnesia Well Pump Room, Valley Gardens. (Image: Paul Kirkwood)

1. From the gates of Valley Gardens follow the left path (Elgar Walk) to the Japanese garden. Turn right to follow the sign to Pinewoods and RHS Harlow Carr, passing in front of a shelter. Turn left just before Magnesia Well onto a tarmac path.

Great British Life: Pinewoods war memorial. Pinewoods war memorial. (Image: Paul Kirkwood)

2. At the war memorial fork right into the pine wood signed to RHS Harlow Carr and Birk Crag. Eventually, at the road turn right then soon left down a drive signed to the Harrogate Arms and Stables. Walk past the former pub (due to re-open as a cafe on 25 April) then at double gates turn right through a handgate onto a footpath.

Great British Life: Birk Crag woodland.Birk Crag woodland. (Image: Paul Kirkwood)

3. After a bridge over a culvert follow the fingerpost on the right signed Ringway footpath which drops down to the beck. Pass over two footbridges and up an incline then bear right, choosing the higher path. Just after Birk Crag House turn left and down steps and at the bottom bear right, keeping the beck on your left.

4. Leave the wood then turn sharp left onto the road and almost immediately sharp right onto unsurfaced Kent Rd. Soon turn left down a fenced path (easy to miss), again signed for the Ringway footpath. Bear right at the end of the passage. Initially the path goes along the top of the valley then bears sharp left to descend to the beck. Follow the path as it bears right, up and away from the beck via railed steps.

Great British Life: Valley Gardens entrance.Valley Gardens entrance. (Image: Paul Kirkwood)

5. Emerge at the road to the golf club. Turn right and, at t-junction with Oakdale, continue ahead up a stepped footpath. Turn right onto Kent Rd, left onto Kent Ave, left again onto Duchy Rd and right onto Clarence Drive. Cross Cornwall Rd and enter Valley Gardens via an archway.


Great British Life: Harrogate's Royal Pump Room. Harrogate's Royal Pump Room. (Image: Paul Kirkwood)

Gardens, pines and crags

Harrogate is famed for its wide-open spaces or Strays, as they're called. But the town's environs include other landscapes you'd more expect to find in the country.

Valley Gardens were developed as pleasure grounds from the mid-19th century to connect the Royal Pump Room to the 36 mineral springs at Bogs Wells served by the Magnesia Well pump room which today is a cafe. The original well also still exists as a Gothic Hansel and Gretel-type cottage. Look out too for the Japanese and New Zealand gardens as well as the Sun pavilion, colonnade and bandstand.

The next leg of the route passes through Pinewoods which consists of 75 acres of predominantly Scots pines and were transformed from rough moor in Edwardian times to link Valley Gardens to Harlow Carr. Pause at the Pinewoods panorama viewpoint and use the binocular telescope to spot Buckden Pike in Upper Wharfedale, Fountains Abbey and the White Horse in the North York Moors.

Great British Life: The Pinewoods panorama. The Pinewoods panorama. (Image: Paul Kirkwood)

Perfect for visiting in springtime and well worth an additional wander, Harlow Carr Gardens includes woodland, scented, tropicana and kitchen gardens, an Alpine house, lake, wildflower meadows, an arboretum, plant shop and cafe (see Eat Here).

Your return route passes through woodland around Birk Crag and down to Oak Beck, a perfect place for youngsters to explore.


Eat here

Betty's Cafe tea rooms at Harlow Carr. Yorkshire's most celebrated tea rooms and the Royal Horticultural Society which owns Harlow Carr Gardens is a match made in heaven. Enjoy all the Bettys classics and choose from a wide selection of speciality teas and coffees while overlooking all the greenery. Be prepared to queue. bettys.co.uk.

The Inn on Cheltenham Parade. Operated by the Timothy Taylor's brewery, the hotel has the calming, friendly feel of a country inn yet comes with all the benefits of a town centre location. Chic and with a distinctive twist of Yorkshire. Try the tapas-sized small plates. innatcheltenhamparade.co.uk.


Start/finish: Northern entrance of Valley Gardens, Harrogate, HG1 2TA. Grid ref: SE 298554.

Time/distance: 2 hours/6.5km.

Accessibility: The outgoing route to Harlow Carr is very easy going and well surfaced. Birk Crag includes steep inclines and declines and can get muddy.

Maps: OS Explorer 289 Leeds, OS Landranger 104 Leeds & Bradford.

Parking: Car parks in town centre or alternatively start at Harlow Carr where parking is free.

Map link: bit.ly/ValleyGardens.