One of the most popular walks in Harrogate takes you from the Royal Pump Room Museum to RHS Harlow Carr. The draw is twofold. Firstly, flower lovers will delight in the majestic Valley Gardens, with their seasonal displays of colourful blooms, as well as the 58-acre showcase of RHS splendour to be found at Harlow Carr. Secondly, the walk features a Betty’s Tea Room and Café at each end and we know of no other walk that makes this delicious claim!
Before you start your walk, make sure to visit Bettys on Parliament Street in Harrogate, if only to gaze upon the incredible treats in the sumptuous window displays. From there, head down the hill past the Turkish Baths and the Winter Gardens building. From the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the Royal Hall diagonally to your right. Take a left and pop into the Tourist Information Office. Here you can pick up a map for this route which includes a discount for entrance to RHS Harlow Carr. Ahead, you’ll find the Royal Pump Room Museum. Here, you can discover the history of the spa town, learning how the Victorian gentry took in the strongest sulphur waters in Europe.
From the Royal Pump Room Museum, use the pedestrian crossing to enter Valley Gardens. Here the walk begins in earnest, at the main entrance to 17 acres of award-winning English Heritage Grade II-listed parkland. You can explore immaculate floral displays and intriguing themed gardens, while the park also features a children’s play area and sporting activities.
Of the three paths in front of you, take the left hand option and walk alongside the stream. We stopped several times to watch ducks in the water and squirrels racing up the trees to our right.
You’ll soon reach the Magnesia Well café serving refreshments inside and out. You could even treat yourself to an ice cream to take with you on your walk. Check out the circular feature where the pathways meet- this area is known as Bogs Field and contains several capped wells. You can find a total of 36 mineral wells within Valley Gardens.
To explore the gardens further, you can wander through the Japanese Garden, visit the play park or even enjoy a game of pitch and putt. Whatever you choose to do, just return to this circular meeting of paths to continue the walk.
From here, roughly opposite the path that brought you to the Magnesia Well, you’ll find a bench-lined path passing the tennis courts with a grassed area to your left. This part of the walk is slightly uphill. At the fork of the paths, follow the right hand dirt path into the pine woods.
Now all you need to do is follow this one path towards the west. Look out for an abundance of wildlife amongst the trees. Keep any dogs and young children close to you as you’ll need to cross a road en route.
Approximately 10 minutes after crossing the road, you’ll reach an information point with binoculars offering panoramic views of the countryside. To the other side of the path, a feeding station brings a wide a variety of birds into close range. Once you’ve enjoyed this special spot, you’re on the home straight. Your destination of RHS Harlow Carr is now within sight, with its stunning gardens, beautifully stocked garden centre and homeware shop. There’s also, of course, another Betty’s Tea Room.