Mother Shipton is England’s most famous Prophetess, predicting amongst other things The Great Fire of London in 1666. She was born in 1488, in a cave next to the river Nidd – now affectionately known as Mother Shipton’s Cave.
Mother Shipton’s is located in the beautiful Knaresbourgh, about a fifteen-minute car journey from Harrogate. I took my husband, 19-month-old daughter and my 8-year-old nephew to check out England’s oldest visitor attraction (open since 1630). It was once owned by the late great Paul Daniels – we were expecting magical things and we weren’t disappointed!
Admission is £7 per adult and £5 per child, with under 3s going free. It’s worth pointing out that parking is an additional £2. They provide the kids with a little activity sheet to complete as you go through the park.
The park itself goes from the car park entrance, next to the viaduct, down along Beech Avenue, following the river, ending at the pedestrian exit which is next to Mother Shipton’s Pub. We took a picnic with us and spent a good three hours there. You could probably do the trail in less than an hour, but where’s the fun in that?
There’s plenty of places to picnic within the site. Next to the river, overlooking the viaduct was a popular spot – picture perfect in fact. There are also an abundance of picnic tables around the park –we opted to eat our lunch at the adventure playground, which is probably a good half way point. There’s an ice cream van at the playground and Mother Shipton’s pub that had a decent food menu at the pedestrian exit if picnics aren’t for you.
The adventure playground is brilliant – and HUGE! So much to do for all ages – zip wire for the older ones, and a cute little pirate ship activity den, complete with sandpit, which my daughter loved. The kids were kept amused for a good hour or so, and I’m pretty sure they’d have stayed longer if we’d let them!
From the playground we walked along the river to Mother Shipton’s Cave and Petrifying Well. The walk is on pretty rough terrain and quite steep at places. They do advise you on the website that some pushchairs aren’t suitable, and I’d agree. If you have a non-walking little person with you save yourself the effort and take them in a baby carrier instead. Our little one walked most of it, but got tired towards the end and had to be carried. There are a few sets of stairs leading down to the caves and well area, which could be tricky for some buggies.
Teddy bears, John Wayne’s hat and Agatha Christie’s bag – to name just a few – all hang down from the Petrifying Well so the water cascades over them and eventually turns them to stone – as if by magic! Next to the well is the cave itself where Mother Shipton lived. You can walk round and through both the caves and well – the kids (and us adults) loved it!
We continued down the river to the museum and gift shop. Keep your eyes peeled for all the beautiful woodcarvings along the way. You can then exit the site, cross over the bridge, and walk through Knaresborough back up to the car park or simply turn round and walk back the way you came. We opted for the latter, and enjoyed an ice cream on the way back to the car.
All in all Mother Shipton’s got the thumbs up from us Mumblers! A lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon. They have children themed activities throughout the year including Hansel and Gretel for the May half term and Robin Hood for the summer holidays. Please see the website for further details.
Disclosure: Mother Shiptons gave us a free family entry ticket so that we could review the park however even free park entry bribery isn’t enough to make us write a dishonest review! We really enjoyed our visit and this blog is our own honest opinion.