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Review: Knaresborough, a Student’s Day Out?

Photo Credits: Katy Leverett

As COVID restrictions are slowly being lifted, the ability to travel, even a short distance, feels like a luxury. Having had plenty of time to explore the beaten tracks of York, my course mate and I decided it was time to branch out. As two southerners, we’d heard about the ‘quaint’ Yorkshire villages and thought, why don’t we visit one? Only 25 minutes away by direct train and less than £10 for a ticket, we decided Knaresborough would be easiest and quickest for us to visit.

Situated near Harrogate, Knaresborough is a market town of cobbled alleyways and secret passages. Towering above the Nidd is the iconic viaduct and ruins of Knaresborough Castle. As two English and History students, who get excited over old archways and ruins, we couldn’t wait to explore what Knaresborough had to offer. We arrived in a traditional country railway station, and having not devised a proper itinerary for the day; we decided to follow the flow of people out of the station and up a steep hill towards the centre of Knaresborough. Although the hill was a difficult climb, the beautiful houses lining either side of the street made it an aesthetic struggle!

Once at the top of the hill, we saw the entrance to the castle ruins on our right and elected to visit those first. We wandered around the ruins, reading the information points about different parts of the castle, before realising how stunning the view from the castle ruins was. The viaduct towered above the river with luscious green trees on the left and the beautiful riverside walk of Knaresborough on the right. It was a cloudy day, but the view was still breath-taking. We were lucky enough to see several trains go across the bridge too.

After seeing the view, we found some stairs that took us out of the ruins and into the Bebra gardens. Everything was beginning to come into bloom, and it was beautiful! Once we’d walked through the gardens, we found another path that connected us to the riverside. We walked down and wandered along the river toward St Robert’s Cave and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag. Although difficult to locate at times, both were worth going to see! Once we’d seen both, we wandered back along the river in the other direction, appreciating the stunning views across the river.

Photo Credits: Katy Leverett

As we got back nearer the centre, we decided to try and find somewhere for some lunch. There looked to be some good places along the river, however, we chose to visit the tearooms in the centre as there was a chance of rain. Tucked behind the main square, the tearooms was 1940s themed and boasted a majority vegetarian and vegan menu. The inside was charming, the crockery on which everything was served was adorable- a vintage lover’s dream! We had toasties followed by scones and tea, which was all very reasonably priced and absolutely delicious!

Once we’d eaten, it was nearing our time to get the train back, so we elected to wander past some of the shops and then sit in the castle ruins to appreciate the views for the last part of our trip. Although it was beginning to get a bit rainy, the view remained picturesque, and we decided that when it was warmer, we would revisit with a picnic! We found a small tourist shop and brought some Knaresborough souvenirs before heading back toward the castle. On the whole, Knaresborough was a lovely, local and affordable trip for us. It got us out somewhere new for the day and allowed us to see a bit more of the beautiful county we’re studying in. We’re already planning a revisit and trips to other small Yorkshire towns. I would strongly recommend a trip to Knaresborough; it was a lovely day out and doable on a student budget!

Author: Katy Leverett