Earlier this week I had the pleasure of finally going on the Free Harrogate Walking Tour. I’ve been meaning to do this since I first saw Harry and his big blue sign wandering around Harrogate for the last year or so. It was a cold, wet Wednesday Morning – but that didn’t seem to put anyone off – there were around 20 other people on the tour. Come armed with waterproofs, brollies, some decent footwear and maybe even some sunscreen (we can dream can’t we!) – come rain or shine the tours take place!
The tours take place Wednesday to Sunday , plus bank holidays four times a day, he even does tours on Christmas Day! The tours last about 1 hour 20 minutes, setting off from opposite Bettys Tea Rooms at 10.30, 12.00, 13.30 and 15.00. It’s worth noting that Harry will be taking a well deserved break from 14th – 25th October 2019.
If you’ve got really little ones – and by that I mean ones that will stay in their pram – then I’d definitely recommend. The tour is fully accessible for wheelchairs and baby carriages. If you’ve got older children I think they’d really love it too. Harry is so engaging he’d have your children mesmerised in no time! My 10 year old nephew has been on the tour, and he loved it! What i’d say it isn’t suitable for are toddlers. My daughter has just turned three, and we’re at that tricky stage where she won’t get in the buggy but at the same time couldn’t last on her little feet for the full tour. And as engaging as he is, I think even Harry would find it tough to keep her interest for that long. Even Peppa Pig can’t do that! Well behaved dogs can also join the tour!
We kicked off the tour promptly at 10.30am. If you’re a bit late, it’s not difficult to spot him to catch up! As I said, there were probably about 20 people on our tour – some local, but mainly tourists – coming from as far as Australia. What I loved about Harry is the amount of interest he showed in his audience, and I’m not sure how he did it but he remembers everyone’s name!
The tour starts off opposite Betty’s where we hear about the history of Harrogate, including William Sligsby and The Stray. Did you know Harrogate was built on a two million year old volcano?! From there, we walk down Montpellier Hill, taking in lots of snippets of information on the way. Its then a quick walk round to the Pump Rooms – where you can even sample the sulphur water – if you dare!
After the pump rooms, we walked around to the front of the Turkish Baths and Royal Hall – where Harry regaled us with more brilliant tales and interesting facts. I don’t think I’ve met someone who loves what they do as much as this man – he loves Harrogate too and it totally comes across in his tours.
From there we walked up to the Old Swan hotel, where he shared some real tear jerker stories from the war time. There’s also lots of humour though so don’t worry. In fact, the favourite thing I learnt from the tour was it was the Old Swan Hotel that Agatha Christie was found at when she went missing!
Then it’s a quick tour round Valley Gardens then off to the Winter Gardens. You walk through the Winter Gardens, which has to be the most beautiful Wetherspoons I’ve ever been to! If you do have a buggy – there are a few steps here, but there’s always someone to lend a hand!
The tour finishes at Bettys – and without even knowing it you’ve done a full loop without realising you’ve climbed that dastardly hill! The tour is great and we’d highly recommend it. In fact, Harry mentioned to us that the tour is now getting so popular with families that he’s going to start dedicating one tour a week especially for them – think more Horrible History style facts and less dates! This will probably be introduced around Christmas time.
I came away from the tour thinking how lucky I was to live here, and from what I can gather its always been a fabulous place to live! As Charles Dickens once said “Harrogate is the queerest place with the strangest people in it, leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining.”
As well as the scheduled tours, Harry also does bespoke and group tours. For more information click here. The Free Walking Tour of Harrogate gets a big thumbs up from us all at Harrogate Mumbler!