Accommodation and attraction rich locations around Harrogate in both the Yorkshire Dales and pushing into West Yorkshire are numerous. Near Harrogate favourites, offering easy access to the Harrogate International Centre include Knaresborough with its historic castle, boat trips on the River Nidd and popular family attractions such as Mother Shipton's Cave. Pushing just into West Yorkshire, nearby historic spa town Ilkley offers a superb choice of fine restaurants, charming B&Bs and adjacent walking hotspots Ilkley Moor and access onto the Dales Way. Ancient market town Otley south west of Harrogate is conveniently close to both Harrogate and Leeds Bradford Airport.
For many being located close to Harrogate is the key, especially during busy events at the International Centre when space and price prevent finding somewhere in Harrogate Town Centre itself.
Ilkley has much in common with nearby Harrogate. Like its neighbour, Ilkley is an elegant historic spa town on a smaller scale but with some unique features all its own. Take the backdrop of Ilkley Moor rising up above the town, and a hotspot for both walking, climbing and site of the White Wells Spa cottage where bathers have been partaking in spa baths since 1703! Ilkley dips its toes into both the Yorkshire Dales and West Yorkshire.
The town's sublime situation on the edge of Wharfedale, Nidderdale and the Yorkshire Dales National Park makes it the perfect base from which to push out further into the Dales. Ilkley also benefits from its closeness to Leeds Bradford Airport and two of Yorkshire's best cities - Leeds and Bradford.
Ilkley's historic spa town centre is an idyllic base indeed, framed as it is by both Ilkley Moor and the Wharfe Valley. Specialist shopping, fine dining restaurants, museums, a historic outdoor lido and one of Yorkshire's famous Betty's Tearooms are all situated in the town itself alongside an extensive choice of Ilkley hotels and Ilkley Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Ilkley is renowned for its restaurant, cafe and charming pub choice, and you've some Michelin starred restaurant choices here! The Grove and Church Street are particular cafe and restaurant hotspots, with a Betty's cafe and Tea Rooms on the Grove opposite the bandstand. Move down to the riverside and the River Wharf and you can join the start of the Dales Way. Ilkley's riverside is a hotspot for families. There's a great kids playground down here, or you can relax at the Riverside Hotel's cafe and take leisurely riverside walks. Ilkley's historic outdoor Lido, with adjacent bowling green and cricket ground is north of the town centre across the River Wharfe near the rugby ground. Ilkley's lido holds a special place in the 20th century history of the town, and you can view old pictures of fun days out at the lido in the Manor House Museum.
Ilkley Tourist Information Centre, Station Road, Ilkley LS29 8HA. Tel. 01943 602319.
Historic market town Otley in the Lower Wharfedale area is a mere 10 miles from Yorkshire's largest city Leeds, with easy access to Harrogate to the north.
Retaining its market town roots, Otley is famous for its markets with a street market three times weekly, a monthly farmers market and the famous annual Spring Otley Agricultural Show usually on the Saturday prior to Spring Bank holiday in May. (see the Otley Show's webguide right for forthcoming events).
The River Wharfe runs through the heart of Otley adding further to this Wharfedale market town's charm. Charming country pubs you're certainly not short of in Otley alongside specialist shops and a choice of accommodation. Otley celebrates numerous events though the year with a fine selection of festivals on offer including a Folk Festival, Beer Festival and the Otley Agricultural Show.
Famous names associated with Otley include painter JW Turner who visited the town in his early 20s, painting locally. Otley is also thought to be the birthplace of furniture notable Thomas Chippendale. Walkers and orienteering fans will do well to head to nearby Chevin Forest Park situated immediately to the south of Otley.
Just to the north of Harrogate sits award winning Ripley Castle and Gardens. Wonderfully preserved, Ripley Castle has both 16th and 18th century parts with guided tours on offer taking you through the history of both periods. The castle tells some particularly fascinating tales around the English Civil War, notably Jane Ingilby, the Royalist Trooper's hold up of Oliver Cromwell in Ripley Castle's library! Priest hideholes have also been discovered as recently as the 1960s!
The attraction has won small visitor attraction of the year, White Rose Awards and you can see why. Ripley is a particular good attraction for children, with special kids tours of the castle during summer and within the park you'll find tearooms, play trails, a castle gift shop, extensive gardens and woodland, with events such as Easter Egg Hunt, Classic Car Rally and live music concerts running throughout the year (see Ripley Castle's webguide right for details).
Attractive Ripley village adjacent to the castle and gardens offers more treats including the Chantry House Art Gallery, Boar's Head Drinking Fountain, the acclaimed Ripley Ice Cream and Village Stores, the village stocks are on show and the Boar's Head Hotel and Beer Garden is perfect for outdoor lunches.
Ripley Castle & Gardens, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 3AY. Tel. 01423 770152.
Historic Knaresborough, a small market town, is a well kept secret on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, offering numerous monuments, activities, museums and old churches. Take boat trips along the River Nidd and view Knaresborough's historic Castle. Mother Shipton's Cave is a particularly popular family attractions within the town (see Mother Shipton's webguide right for details). Knaresborough turns 'pink' in summer when it hosts FEVA, a festival of entertainment and visual arts
Masham is the home of the Black Sheep Brewery. This brewery has its own visitor centre where you can find out how the beer is made. Plenty of samples to be had as well!
Masham is also the home of Theakstons - this really is an area not to be missed by real ale lovers. See webguides right for Black Sheep and Theakstons breweries in Masham, and information on guided brewery tours.
T&R Theakston Ltd, The Brewery, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire. HG4 4YD. Tel. 01765 680 000. The Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 4EN. Tel. 01765 689227.
Cenotaph image contributed by DS Pugh. Pump Room image contributed by John Tomlinson. Staues on Victoria Shopping Centre image contributed by 'RichTea' (no real name given). All images are copyrighted but licensed for further reuse under the Creative Commons License.