HedgehogCycling.co.uk

Yorkshire cycling website

Bicycles

Harrogate Stray

Harrogate Stray
Harrogate Stray

Harrogate Stray (the Stray or Two Hundred Acre) is 200 acres of grassland and verges that wraps around the south west and south east of Harrogate town centre.

The Stray is popular with local people for walking, running, picnicking, flying kites, and playing football and other games.

Harrogate Stray: history

St John's Well, Harrogate Stray
St John's Well, Harrogate Stray

In the 1760s, there was widespread enclosure of Crown lands, for financial returns to the Crown, and to allow private development.

Harrogate's wells and springs were on land that was part of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough, and the town depended on public access to them for its visitors and thus its prosperity. It would have been damaging if the land had been divided up and sold off.

The people of Harrogate made representations to Parliament, and commissioners were appointed to survey the area. They designated 200 acres of land covering the springs, which would:

'...for ever hereafter remain open and unenclosed, and all persons whomsoever shall and may have free access at all times to the said springs, and be at liberty to use and drink the Waters there arising, and take the benefit thereof, and shall and may have use, and enjoy full and free ingress and regress in, upon, and over the said two hundred acres of land...'

The right to the common land was contained in the commissioners' award of 1778. Use of the Stray is now governed by the Stray Act 1985 and bye-laws under it.

Harrogate Stray: the seasons

Spring

Daffodils on the Stray
Daffodils on the Stray

Daffodils flower on the Stray in April. They come a month after the crocuses - of which there are 6 to 7 million on the Stray, according to Harrogate Borough Council. As the daffodils begin to wither, there's an explosion of pink cherry blossom.

Cherry blossom on Harrogate Stray
Cherry blossom on Harrogate Stray

Summer

Rabbit on Harrogate Stray
Rabbit on Harrogate Stray

The Stray is appreciated and used by local people more in summer than in any other season. Rabbits emerge from the brambles by the railway line in the early morning and evening, to assist the Borough Council Parks and Gardens team in keeping the grass short.

Autumn

The Stray in October
Autumn on Harrogate Stray

In the autumn, the leaves of the trees turn to red and brown.

Winter

Snow on Harrogate Stray
Snow on Harrogate Stray

Even as the climate warms, winter occasionally grips Harrogate Stray.

Harrogate Stray: events and activities

There are two fairs on Oatlands Drive Stray every year, one over Spring Bank Holiday and the other on August Bank Holiday. There's a bonfire on the Saturday nearest 5th November, again on Oatlands Drive Stray, organised by Harrogate & District Round Table.

Harrogate Stray: wildlife

Mistle thrush on the Stray
Mistle thrush, Harrogate Stray

There are plenty of birds on the Stray, including mistle thrushes, and rabbits that live by the railway line.

Rabbit, Harrogate Stray
Rabbit, Harrogate Stray

Harrogate Stray: photos

More Harrogate Stray photos.

Rabbit on Harrogate STray
Rabbit on the Stray, 28th April 2019
Cherry blossom on Harrogate STray
Cherry blossom on the Stray, 26th April 2019
Cherry blossom on Harrogate Stray
Cherry blossom on the Stray, 26th April 2019

Harrogate

View towards Cambridge Crescent, Harrogate

View towards Cambridge Crescent, Harrogate

Harrogate, a North Yorkshire town of about 75,000 people, which grew as a spa resort in the 1600s and 1700s.

Harrogate's name and history, shopping, attractions, theatre, and parks and gardens.

Read about Harrogate.

Stray Defence Association

The Stray Defence Association has existed since 1933, when it was formed to fight a council plan to turn part of the Stray into formal flower beds.

The Association's stated purpose is to safeguard the Stray against building and encroachment, and to uphold the Stray Act 1985.

Unfortunately, the Committee members of the Stray Defence Association come across as anti-cycling. In 2007, one of them made the case against allowing cycling on the Stray: 'The Stray is now under grave threat. Cycling on the Stray has been proposed.' In the event, since people have been allowed to ride bikes along Slingsby Walk, it hasn't changed the character of the Stray or caused any problems.

Similarly, in consultations about creating a safe bike route along Otley Road, the Association has used the fact that the grass verges there are technically part of the Stray to raise objections. It is difficult to fathom why an association which should be focused on Harrogate Stray dislikes bicycles so much, and wants to block much-need active travel routes, and prevent children being able to ride to school in safety.

Everyone in Harrogate values the Stray and wants it protected; unfortunately, the Stray Defence Association doesn't represent us.

Cherry blossom on the Stray Rabbit on the StraySnow on Harrogate Stray