Knaresborough is a traditional market town on the River Nidd, a few miles to the east of Harrogate in North Yorkshire.
With facilities centred around the open market square in the centre (market day in Knaresborough is Wednesday), the town itself is dominated by a large aqueduct across the river, with numerous opportunities to enjoy the views across the river to the steep-sided wooded valley beyond, both while strolling along the river edge and from the higher parts of the town above.
Knaresborough is a pretty market town whose central square is surrounded by an attractive array of buildings filled with shops, cafes and pubs. One of the shops claims to be the oldest chemist in England and is as charming inside as out.
The pub on the square is 'Blind Jacks' named after Jack Metcalfe who was the first professional road builder after the Industrial Revolution and was born in a thatched cottage opposite Knaresborough castle. He is also commemorated in a statue which sits on one of the benches in the market square.
Next to Blind Jack's bench sits a statue of Mother Shipton, another local celebrity. Mother Shipton a prophetess who predicted the Great Fire of London and the Spanish Armada attack.
Radiating out from the main square there are lots of steep and cobbled streets lined with traditional Yorkshire stone houses running down the hill to the river which are very picturesque to explore, with a selection of cafes. Notice a selection of painted window's around the town depicting Guy Fawkes and King John amongst others.
Close to the centre is Knaresborough Castle. The original castle in Knaresborough was built shortly after the Norman Conquest, around the year 1100, with further work at the beginning of the 14th century, then laid to ruin at the end of the Civil War in 1648 under orders from parliament. The ruins can now be visited and there is also a small museum dedictaed to the history of the castle and town. There is also a hidden tunnel from the castle and the castle is surrounded by well maintained grounds.
From the castle grounds you can see fabulous views over the viaduct and the river below. From the castle take the steps down to the lovely Bebra gardens and from here walk down to the river. There is a lovely walk along the river with the central section lined with lovely cottages as well as cafes and a pub and you can also hire a boat and row on the river.
Further out the walk becomes more of a pleasant nature walk. On sunny days the riverside area attracts lots of visitors and has a great atmosphere.
As well as the viaduct which frames and dominates the view of the river you can walk to Mother Shipton's cave. Mother Shipton's cave in Knaresborough claims the title of 'longest established tourist attraction in England', having been drawing the crowds since 1630. Mother Shipton lived in Knaresborough at the time of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, having been born in the cave in 1488.
The healing powers of the waters in the 'petrifying well' next to the cave have also been applying their therapeutic benefits since the 16th century, and items lowered into the water become 'petrified' very quickly.
Also along the river is 'Saint Robert's Cave' which is a 13th century hermit cave. A 15th century shrine, the 'Chapel of our Lady of the Crag', is carved into the rock as is the 18th century 'House in the Rock'.
Knaresborough has a couple of festivals in the summer. The Great Knaresborough Bed Race has been taking place for 50 years and involves nearly 100 teams pushing an occupied bed through town and across the river.
Another popular fesival is the 'Festival of Entertainment and Visual Art' , FEVA, with exhibitions of theatre, dance and street performances.
Places to visit nearby
There are a wealth of interesting places nearby. The spa town of Harrogate is one of our favourite towns in England and is just 4 miles away. Also nearby is the Yorkshire Dales village of Pately Bridge which has recently been voted Britain's Best Village High Street and also nearby is Fountains Abbey which with its formal water gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Photos of Knaresborough
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Map of Knaresborough and places to visit
Knaresborough places to visit
See more places nearby in the North Yorkshire guide