Jo’s Monday walk : Valley Gardens to Harlow Carr

Most of my time in England was spent in the city of Leeds, but I did manage a few side trips to see friends. Harrogate was an easy 45 minute bus ride away, and the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr an old favourite, so when my lovely friend Ann suggested that we could walk there from the town centre I was delighted. She and husband Bill drove down from the north east. First stop, coffee and a catch up, and a cheese scone for me. I had always been curious about the Royal Baths in Harrogate, and this proved the perfect opportunity to visit the Royal Pump Room Museum, while the very British weather made up its mind.

Situated on the corner of Valley Gardens, the museum offers an insight into local life in Victorian times, if you were of a certain social standing. The agenda included ‘afternoon tea in the gardens, listening to the band’. Our weather was as good as it was going to get, so it was time to stride out into Valley Gardens, where the RHS show used to be held. It became too popular for this lovely place, and expanded to a less charismatic showground elsewhere.

The flowerbeds were a blaze of carefully tended glory, coleus and begonia vying for attention. Dahlias and chrysanths, pom-poms and spikes, a swathe of colour so breathtaking that I no longer noticed the drab skies. These Grade II listed gardens were originally a footpath beside a stream, from the Royal Pump Room to Bogs Field with its 36 different mineral wells. The gardens were opened in 1887 and the Magnesia Well Pump Room served mineral water from the adjacent well. Passing the Cherub Fountain we continued through Pinewoods, along the footpath to Harlow Carr.

First, to the Alpine House and a little warmth, we then set to, following our noses and the paths at will. No better way to explore a garden. When we lived in the north east my husband was a member of the RHS and we were semi-regular visitors to Harlow Carr. The Spring Show was a highlight of the year but for us the Summer Show became too big, selling lots of things we neither wanted nor could afford. But the flowers were always stunning. A wander in these gardens in Autumn could satisfy all the senses.

There was a four seasons theme running through the garden, with cleverly constructed characters representing each of the seasons. Probably best not to meet them on a dark night.

By this stage of things the legs were tiring and there was still the walk back to the town centre. Being advised that there was an hour’s wait for Betty’s restaurant, the only sit down option in the gardens, we decided to leave. A good choice because we found a beautiful country house, The Pinemarten, just round the corner. If you look closely you’ll find me in the mirror behind Ann’s lovely smile.

Details for Harlow Carr, including a virtual tour, can be found on the website.

walking logo

First to link up with me, Sarah indulges a love of Paris in a favourite area of mine :

Gallery: a walk around Montmartre

Kelly caught my eye with this interesting walk :

Tablelands- a walk on the earth’s mantle

Rosemay and I go back a long way, and it’s always a pleasure to share :

Mokare Heritage Trail Denmark

Mel loves to intrepidly go where many of us can’t :

Be careful how you say it… Walking to Shot Hole Canyon in Cape Range National Park, Western Australia

And, just this morning, Aggie sent me this very moving piece. Thanks, hon!

All the beds I have slept in

Many thanks to all of you. I’m not sure if I’m reaching everybody I want to, or if this is the best way to do it. Life accelerates here in the Algarve and I have visitors coming. Already I have things happening here that I want to write about and still a pocketful of UK memories. But the evenings grow shorter and I’ll try to keep up. Take good care of yourselves meanwhile.

67 thoughts on “Jo’s Monday walk : Valley Gardens to Harlow Carr

  1. Jo, thanks so much for sharing this lovely walk! I’m so sorry I didn’t get to it last week especially as you so kindly shared my contribution too. As you know I have many links to Yorkshire and Harrogate and have so many happy memories of trips to Harlow Carr. It is looking glorious πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I also loved the Alpine House so would usually start my walks round there (with my dad) and then head up along the stream and lake and do the full loop round. My dad hasn’t been able to get up there for a while either as he no longer drives (a very good thing!). Am trying to organise some more support for him at present with my brother so that he could do these things again but he is a little resistent to help – long story! Anyway so lovely that you could meet up with friends again and enjoy the beautiful floral displays. Afternoon tea at Betty’s was always a highlight – we would repair there afterwards for their tea and scones. Hope all is well and will be in touch again soon xx πŸ™‚

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    • I understand older people being resistant to other people organising their lives, Rosemay, and you need never apologise for not visiting. I know you always find me when you have time, and as we keep saying, life takes precedence. Hugs, darlin!

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      • I know it is very hard Jo – we went through the same problems with my late mum and aunt (who’s in a very fragile state now alas). Just come off a lengthy Facetime chat with my brother – he’s having to organise everything with me backing him up from afar. Yes have had a few things going on but we are all fine (school holidays now so we have a couple of outings planned and we have our granddaughters staying for a couple of days this week). I do enjoy visiting you in the blogosphere though and hope all is well xx πŸ™‚

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  2. The garden is just stunning. I love the wilderness, but every time I see a well-tended formal garden I an in raptures over the beauty – the shapes and colours and variety. Sooo gorgeous! 🌸🌺 πŸ’•πŸŒ»
    Alison

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    • That sounds good, Sarah. I’m just home from croquet and a lunch with friends. I think my walk posts will probably be fortnightly but I’ll pop over to yours later today. Thank you πŸ€—πŸ’•

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  3. Welcome home. It is lovely to travel and it is also lovely to come back to your own space. I love the contrast between your posts from the UK – floral, soft and lush – vs the energy and vibrancy of your Algarve backyard. You have the best of all worlds. Take care and thanks for the share, Mel

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  4. What an interesting and beautiful place, Jo! I giggled reading the sign schedule and wondered about it. I guess if you are there for a day spa or “cure” in the 19th century, all that languishing and tumblers of water could be beneficial, LOL! Sounds like your trip was wonderful and I bet you enjoyed your friends! I’m inspired to get a Monday walk post going as I prep for Sunday Stills next Sunday πŸ™‚

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    • It would be great to have you along, Terri. The old site elapses soon and I’m not at all sure what happens then, but it will be lovely to have company on the journey. I did think they spent too much time on their butt. Being wealthy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

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  5. A lovely walk with some very beautiful flowers Jo but I have to wonder if those Victorians ever got fed up of listening to bands several times a day every day – I know I would.

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    • I don’t suppose it’s any different than kids having their earphones on, Eunice, but I’d much prefer my freedom too. Wealth isn’t everything, is it? πŸ€£πŸ’• Thanks for your company, hon!

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  6. The Valley Gardens look delightful and how handy that you can walk from there to the RHS gardens. I used to be a member when we lived in the SE but no point since then as there are no RHS gardens within easy reach. I still miss visiting Wisley on a regular basis, even after all this time! I bet you were having far too much fun chatting to your friends to take much notice of the garden anyway. πŸ€—

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  8. I find these Philip Haas statues simply marvellous and so clever! Were there others around? I’d love to track down all of them! And I also adore the opening statue of the boys, and the actual bed of flowers. Enjoy time with your visitors! We’ll be right here.

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  9. Ah! A favourite walk when we lived in Harrogate. I used to go to the Valley Gardens with a friend every Sunday morning without fail at 8.00 a.m. for our Power Walking session. Did you try the waters at the Pump Room Museum? Beyond disgusting. Rotten eggs in a glass. I guess the idea was that something that tasted so bad must have been doing you good. So glad you got to all three of these local gems.

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  10. Good morning Jo,
    Your photographs are absolutely gorgeous.

    Once again it’s lovely to see images from my neck of the woods – Harrogate being just twenty minutes from me and my local shopping centre (although the same distance, I avoid Leeds). I shall be in Harrogate next week to have my hair done.

    I’ve strolled around Valley gardens many times but have never visited the pump rooms. I didn’t realise it was the original RHS garden either. Oh, I’m so glad it moved away to Harlow Carr, It’s been a couple of years since I visited the RHS gardens there, so how lovely to see the new sculptures.
    I think Margaret will probably agree that when something is virtually on our doorstep we take it for granted and don’t visit to see the changes as often as we ought. Thank you for reminding me that it’s time I visited the gardens again.

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    • I expect you’ll know the tearooms where I had my scone. A little courtyard with garden sculptures, not far from the bus station? I was too excited at meeting Ann to notice the name. The RHS show is at the Yorkshire Show Ground and has been for the last several years. I find it quite soulless but the plants are fabulous. Much sooner visit the gardens. Thanks a lot for coming along, Sue.

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