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
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
Crocuses on the Stray
There are 6 to 7 million crocuses on the Stray, according to Harrogate
Borough Council. They flower in the early spring, from the
beginning of March.
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.
In the autumn, the leaves of the trees turn to red and brown.
Even as the climate warms, winter occasionally grips Harrogate
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
There are plenty of birds on the Stray, including mistle thrushes, and rabbits that
live by the railway line.
Rabbit, Harrogate Stray