Top 10 sunny days out for free

If you are looking to entertain the family but need to keep an eye on the pennies, there are lots of places to visit for free in the Harrogate area. Here are our top ten places to visit for an unforgettable experience.

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The Coldstones Cut

The Coldstones Cut is the largest public artwork in Yorkshire and offers amazing views out across the valley of Nidderdale, and down into the last working quarry in the valley. The nearby Toft Gate Lime Kiln gives a glimpse into the history of industry in the dale. Together these are great places to explore on a sunny day and you can walk up to both from nearby Pateley Bridge (quite a climb) or there is a free car park between the two sites.

The Coldstones Cut
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Valley Gardens, Harrogate

This beautiful Grade II listed public garden can offer surprises even for those who visit Harrogate often. The seventeen acres of formal gardens that make up the Valley Gardens are a joy to visit all year round with spring bulbs and blossom, colourful flowerbeds in the height of summer and autumn colours. The Japanese Garden has been restored to its’ former glory with plant species native to Japan. Take a walk along the Sun Colonnade, which is lit in the evening, to the Art Deco Sun Pavilion and bandstand. Smaller family members can enjoy the boating pond, skate-park, play area and paddling pool (filled in the summer months) and with lots of green spaces to set up your picnic you can have a lovely day out. Longer walks can be enjoyed through the pinewoods at the top of the gardens, which offer cool refreshing shade on the hotter days and offer views across the countryside.

Valley Gardens, Harrogate
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Knaresborough Castle

Perched majestically on the top of the Knaresborough cliffs the grounds of Knaresborough Castle can be enjoyed for free. Here you can see the outside of the Keep and the remaining castle walls. The spectacular view takes in the river, viaduct and the Nidd Gorge beyond. Well worth a selfie or sitting and painting the view or simply take a moment. The castle is a short walk from the market place or you can walk from the castle down the face of the crag to Waterside below and walk along the river in both directions. Turning left once you reach the river takes you along Waterside and on to Abbey Road by the Low Bridge. Further along the river you can visit St Roberts Cave, a medieval hermitage.

Knaresborough Castle & Museum
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Scar House Reservoir

At the top of Nidderdale, Scar House Reservoir and the neighbouring Angram Reservoir is often one of the cooler spots in the area. The views from the many walks around this part of the valley are all breathtaking and the loop around the dam can be undertaken on foot or mountain bike. Head out across the moorland on one of the public rights of way that branch out from the main footpath. The car park is free and there are picnic benches dotted about.

Scar House Reservoir
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Pateley Bridge Riverside and Walks

An ever-popular location for a sunny afternoon, the River Nidd has several great spots for paddling, skimming stones or just relaxing with a picnic and watching the world go by From Pateley Bridge take the footpath along the river to Glasshouses on the Victorian Gardens Walk, the site of the old mill building and from there you can follow the trail all the way to Brimham Rocks using an OS map or the shorter Panorama Walk takes you high up to enjoy beautiful views across Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale.

Pateley Bridge
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Druids Temple, Masham

This remarkably convincing henge structure has had many stories told about how it came to be at the hands of the druids, how sacrifices were made, how it remains haunted to this day. None of them are true, but everyone loves a good story. Druids Temple is in fact a folly built in the late 18th century, near to the pretty market town of Masham, and makes a great picnic spot with a difference. Children can play hide and seek around the stones and pretend to be witches and wizards. You can also take one of the many permissive footpaths through the woods or sit and enjoy the stunning view of Leighton reservoir.

The Druid's Temple
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The Stray, Harrogate

Harrogate is unique for having 200 acres of open parkland around its town centre and all this green space is the perfect place to enjoy a few hours with the family. Festooned with crocuses, daffodils and cherry blossoms in spring, The Stray is a great place to let young ones burn of energy with some ball games, a Frisbee competition or flying a kite. Lay out your picnic rug and relax while you watch on and then enjoy an al fresco lunch. With some of the footpaths also designated cycle paths, you and your little ones can cycle in safety.

The Stray, Harrogate
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Nidderdale Greenway & Beryl Burton Cycleway

A beautiful cycle route and part of the Sustrans network, the Nidderdale Greenway and Beryl Burton Cycleway connect the towns of Knaresborough and Harrogate with the pretty village of Ripley, famed for its delicious ice cream. Popular with cyclists and walkers, the Greenway follows the route of the old Harrogate to Ripon railway line, cutting through fields full of wildflowers and woodland carpeted with bluebells in late spring. The Nidd Gorge can be accessed from the Greenway and you can follow the footpath through the woodland staying close to the river all the way to Knaresborough. As you walk across the old Nidd viaduct, take a moment to stop and take in the stunning views on both sides. From Ripley, you can access the quiet country lanes from Ripley heading out into the Nidderdale countryside or stay in the village for a look around.

The Nidderdale Greenway
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Valley of the Seven Bridges and Studley Royal Deer Park

The Studley Royal deer park is free to visit on foot and is accessed from Studley Roger village. The Valley of the Seven Bridges walk follows the river and you cross it repeatedly along the way over the five remaining stone-arched bridges. Fallen trees, large spaces of open grass and the river fords that accompany each bridge along this atmospheric steep-sided valley make for an enjoyable exploration for young children. The wider deer park also provides an exciting walk, look out for the groups of red, fallow and sika deer along the way, but remember to be extra-cautious during the rutting season in autumn.

The Seven Bridges Valley walk
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The historic market town of Boroughbridge dates back to Roman times and was once a popular staging post on the Great North Road. You can see some of this history for yourself on a day visit. The mysterious Devil’s Arrows, three standing stones on the outskirts of the town date back to the Bronze Age.

The Butter Museum in the centre of Boroughbridge dates back to the 18th or early 19th century and now displays local artefacts including an early 19th century bread oven, railway memorabilia and dairy equipment from local farms. If you want to stretch your legs some more, you can also walk along the River Ure and Ripon Canal to Ripon.