Astounding numbers flock to Harrogate's Valley Gardens

PUBLISHED: 14:40 24 March 2013 | UPDATED: 15:13 28 November 2017

Valley Gardens "“ chosen as the country's favourite park in 2009 (and Alan Titchmarsh's every year)

Valley Gardens "“ chosen as the country's favourite park in 2009 (and Alan Titchmarsh's every year)

How many trips have people made to enjoy the splendours of Valley Gardens in the last 12 months? If you said a million, you're not even close. Two million? Think again.

How many trips have people made to enjoy the splendours of Valley Gardens in the last 12 months? If you said a million, you’re not even close. Two million? Think again.



Since Harrogate Borough Council’s parks team installed an electronic counting device for the first time a year ago, it has recorded a staggering 2,738,122 visits.



Chosen by Britain in Bloom as the country’s favourite park in 2009, this English Heritage grade two listed park is also on record as being the favourite public park of gardening expert, author, TV personality and all-round Yorkshireman Alan Titchmarsh.



Now it can also claim to be one of the area’s most visited attractions, alongside paid-for crowd-pullers like Fountains Abbey, RHS Harlow Carr and Lightwater Valley.



Patrick Kilburn, the council’s head of parks and open spaces, said: ‘We decided to do the count because the council commits a lot of resources to the maintenance of its open spaces but had no information to support how many benefit from that commitment.

‘This is just one park, but this figure shows just how popular and important our parks and open spaces are. A further advantage is we now have a definite figure when submitting bids to external granting bodies.



‘It was one of the highlights of my career to have Valley Gardens chosen as the country’s favourite park. We always knew the park was popular and now to have this figure on record, it shows that title was thoroughly deserved.’



Peter Banks of Visit Harrogate added his congratulations: ‘You only have to browse Trip Advisor to see positive comments from people who have made special trips to visit Valley Gardens from all over the country. And, of course, it’s always popular with foreign visitors, being a really traditional well-tended public park with something for everyone.’



On a similar horticultural theme, one of Harrogate’s prettiest and best-loved walks is set to flourish anew with the planting of 30 cherry trees.



A hundred trees were first planted on Milton Way (now fondly known as Cherry Tree Way), which runs across The Stray, as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, providing an annual spring avenue of pink blossom.



When replacement trees came up for consideration, Councillor Pat Jones, cabinet member for cultural services, was determined that the tradition of cherry trees on Milton Way would not be broken.



‘These trees have given a lifetime of pleasure but, unlike Her Majesty, they have not grown old gracefully,’ she said. ‘A large number have had to be removed because of disease, vandalism and excavation work, leaving gaps in the avenue. Only about 50 of the original trees remain and these are coming to the end of their natural life.



‘But I am delighted that, despite difficulties sourcing this type of mature cherry tree, we have purchased 30 new double-flowering pink cherry trees. A generation has enjoyed these trees and now future generations will be able to enjoy the blossom for years to come.’

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