A weekend in Harrogate, North Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 12:27 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 February 2013
There's plenty going on for visitors and locals alike in one of Yorkshire's most attractive towns, as Amanda Griffiths discovers<br/>Photographs by John Cocks
The Mayor of Harrogate, Pat Jones, may still have a distinctive Welsh lilt in her voice but she feels more at home in the spa town than she does in her native country. Pat, who became a councillor seven years ago, moved to Harrogate 20 years ago. Before becoming mayor earlier this year, she was a council member responsible for culture which puts her in a great position to advise visitors on what to see and do in the town.
'Harrogate has a distinct advantage when it comes to visitors,' she says. 'It's actually in the middle of the country, so whether you're coming from the north or the south there's the same amount of distance to travel.
'We've got excellent travel links, Leeds/Bradford airport is only 14 miles away which is great for visitors and for people coming for conferences, and we've got good bus and rail links too.
'It's an ideal spot. I love everything about it. It's a nice size town, we've got Leeds and York not too far away and we're close to the countryside - the Dales and the Lakes are only a short drive away.'
Pat offers an extensive list of things to see for a weekend visitor. These include the famous Harrogate Stray, a 200-acre area of open grassland which was originally pasture land.
'It's a place where people can relax, sit and have a picnic and children can play,' says Pat. 'It's well used all year round. During the week people will just sit and enjoy the space but at weekends especially it really comes alive. Just last weekend there was a big display of vintage cars and buses, various football teams put up goal posts and play matches there, our fireworks display takes place there and the fair comes from time to time. It's a great space and wonderful to see people using it.'
If you're looking for relaxing strolls in the park then it's worth heading down to Valley Gardens. Pat says the sun pavilion has recently been restored to its former glory, the flower beds are immaculately kept and the children's play area has also been refurbished and is well used.