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24 September 2014

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You are in: North Yorkshire > Places > Free Stuff > Harrogate district - guide to cheap days out

Brimham Rocks

Harrogate district - guide to cheap days out

"You don't get 'owt for nowt" at least that's according to the old Yorkshire saying, but bearing in mind the rising cost of a day out, we thought we'd let you into a few of our secrets for a great day out - on the cheap - in North Yorkshire.

There's so much to see and do in North Yorkshire and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune. With a few carefully chosen ideas on where to go and what to do, we hope we can help you enjoy some great days out for next to nothing in North Yorkshire. If we're going to let you into the secrets of our favourite days out, we do want something in return, we want you to share your secrets with us. Where do you go in North Yorkshire for a great day out? We want suggestions of places which won't cost a kings ransom.

First things first, sort out your food - a couple of rounds of sandwiches and a flask of tea should just about do! So, where is there to go...


Parks and gardens are the jewels in Harrogate's crown. At the centre of these stand the Valley Gardens. Beautiful buildings such as the Sun Pavilion and Colonnades sit alongside a wide variety of outdoor games.

Sun Colonnades, Valley Gardens, Harrogate

Valley Gardens, Harrogate

There are beautiful flower beds, walks through the gardens, a paddling pool and children's play area as well as plenty of benches where you can enjoy a sit in the sun. For a small price you can try your hand at activities like crazy golf and pitch and putt, with tennis courts also for hire.

Valley Gardens, Harrogate

Bandstand at the Valley Gardens

If you've not brought your own picnic the Magnesia Wells café serves light refreshments whilst the Sun Pavillion offers something more substantial. On Sunday afternoons throughout the summer there are Band concerts.

Elsewhere in the town, Harrogate's famous 'Stray' offers great opportunities for walking. There's loads of space for the kids to enjoy a kick about, or why not get some friends together to share a picnic and a game of rounders.

If you're after a touch of culture, there's free admission to Harrogate's main art gallery - the Mercer Gallery (although there may be a charge for special exhibitions). The gallery's collection is mainly of 19th and 20th century art and includes works by William Powell Frith and John Atkinson Grimshaw.


There's loads to do for next to nothing in Knaresborough if you know where to look. A couple of minutes walk from the Market Place brings you to the grounds of  Knaresborough Castle where there are stunning views across the River Nidd and railway viaduct over the Nidd Gorge. There's a pitch and putt in the summer and paths down the cliff to the riverside walks below.

Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough Castle

Bebra Gardens - is a small, well kept park which is hidden away at the foot of Knaresborough Castle. The Gardens were formerly known as Moat Gardens because of their closeness to the moat of Knaresborough Castle moat. There's a paddling pool which is a great way to keep the children cool on a warm summers day.

Bebra Gardens, Knaresborough

Paddling pool at Bebra Gardens

Enjoy a walk along the Waterside (there are a couple of places where you can hire a rowing boat). A short walk up river brings you to Conyngham Hall where there are more woodland and riverside walks. There's a little 'beach' down by the river and plenty of space to have a barbeque. During the day, for a small charge, Conyngham Hall also offers activities like pitch and putt and crazy golf.


In Ripon, the Spa Gardens is a beautiful park right in the heart of the City. There's space to run and play as well as a grand looking Victorian bandstand where band concerts take place on Sunday afternoons throughout the summer.

Ripon Spa Gardens

Ripon Spa Gardens

For a small charge you could have a go on the putting greens or the crazy golf, otherwise have a nice stroll round and enjoy what the gardens have to offer. Carefully sited nesting boxes have encouraged many species of birds to  make their home in the Gardens alongside the outdoor games. The Sun Parlour Café serves light meals and refreshments.


If you're looking for a more strenuous challenge perhaps Brimham Rocks, near Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale, is the place for you. There are scores of curious rock formations in all kind of weird and wonderful shapes. They offer loads of opportunities for exploring and clambering about, but you've got to be careful and watch your footing - especially if its been wet.

Brimham Rocks

Brimham Rocks

Brimham Rocks is a great place to spend the day and you'll almost certainly wear the children out. On a good day you can see for miles. The views across Nidderdale to the Yorkshire Dales or over the Vale of York towards Sutton Bank are often stunning.

There's a refreshment kiosk serving tea, coffee, sandwiches, cakes and ice cream. Brimham Rocks is owned and run by the National Trust. The only thing that's going to cost you is the price of parking (£3.50 for up to 4 hours parking, £4.50 over 4hrs).

last updated: 20/05/2008 at 15:37
created: 14/08/2007

Have Your Say

We've shared our secrets for cheap days out around Harrogate, now it's your turn. Tell us where you go, if we agree we'll include it in this section!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

We've just got a dog and would love some info on dog friendly places to visit in and around Harrogate? We've been to valley gardens which is just lovely but would like to try some other places for variety!

Judy Popley
Birk Crag, HarrogateThis is one magical place for walkers, bird watchers .... and for finding that elusive and secretive roe deer. The woods offer a myriad of walks, up and down the Crag, along the delightful river, haven't seen a kingfisher yet, but heard them!, and of course in the quieter places you might just see a roe deer. Its magic at any time of the year, from the vibrant spring with all the birdsand delicate woodland flowers to the damp, dank wintertime. And you can give yourself a treat at the end of it all with a wonderful afternoon tea at Betty's beside the RHS Harlow Carr gardens ... or have a pint at the Harrogate Arms.

Barbara Grant
Studley Deer Park & Valley of Seven Bridges. Adjacent to the Fountains Abbey Estate near Ripon. All this day out will cost you is a car parking fee (National Trust members park for free) Miles of footpaths around the deer park, church to look around, lake with ducks & geese to feed. valley of Seven Bridges good for kids, lots of places to paddle in the summer. It's also possible to start & Finish several circular walks from here. refreshments available at NT Tea room & Kiosk. Toilets.

jerry fokkbus
rowing boats on the nidd are £3.50 per adult per hour.. less if you're a kid.

Does anyone have any idea on the price range for boat hire on the river Nidd in Knaresborough? I cant find no details on any of the websites! Please help!

Rob Marsden
How about walking around some of the local reservoirs, Grimwith between Grassington and Pateley is superb, and with free parking is excellent value. Toilets are also available.Good walking, nice one Yorkshire Water.

Phil from Ripon
Why not try Ripon Canal and the marina - great day out for nowt.

Simon - Birstwith
Fountains Abbey near Ripon is also worthy of mention, the gardens are superb and the ruins are simply breathtaking - awesome !

Babs King
I like to climb to the top of Almscliffe Cragg with a flask of tea and some M&S sandwiches and have a good natter with my friends -looking out over the whole of Harrogate!!

andrea di virgilio
I take my children and the dog to Bolton Abbey. I pack the car with picnic, and water for the dog, pay my fiver to park the car and spend all day exploring usually ending up with a swim and a splash in the river before stroking the cows and going home with a car full of tired and happy children to a happy husband who has not had to fund an expensive trip out!

Anne Lidstone
How about Plumpton Rocks? smaller than Brimham but perfectly formed!

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