The Yorkshire Showground Greenway is a tarmacked foot and cycle path between Hornbeam Park and the Yorkshire Showground/Sainsburys/A661 Wetherby Road. It opened in spring 2014. It's good quality cycle infrastructure, which provides a way of getting across a part of Harrogate without having to dodge motor traffic. Thanks go to Harrogate Borough Council for helping to make it suitable for bikes, and to the Yorkshire Showground for allowing the permissive route across their land.
It is a shared path, so on a bike you have to moderate your speed, and be considerate to other people using the path on foot. Also, the Yorkshire Showground is a great place for local people to walk dogs, so bike riders should expect to come across dogs on the Showground Greenway, and be extra careful.
The woods and fields surrounding the Yorkshire Showground are home to a number of red kites, and the Showground is a great place to see them in the afternoon.
This map shows the Yorkshire Showground Greenway (in green), and cycle and foot path routes to reach it (in yellow).
The Yorkshire Showground starts at Hornbeam Park - from Hornbeam Park station, go all the way along Hornbeam Park, and just before the end there is a blue 'Showground Greenway' sign (photo above) and a wooden 'public bridleway' sign (photo below).
Turn left here on the Greenway. It goes downhill to a little bridge over Hookstone Beck.
The Showground Greenway then goes up away from the beck, through some trees. There's a junction, with a path off to the left and another to the right, but carry straight on here.
You arrive within sight of Harrogate Squash & Fitness centre, and turn right down the hill on a road which has white arrows painted on it.
On the road down the hill, there are a couple of gates, which are usually open during the day, then closed in the evening and at night. When the gates are closed there's an opening to the side for people on foot or riding bikes. At the second gate, the Greenway joins Railway Road.
Turning right at the next junction would take you towards Spofforth and the Harland Way
Staying on the Railway Road, it now passes the Showground's caravan site.
Next on the left is Fodder local food shop and café.
Then you reach Sainsburys and the A661 Wetherby Road.
If you're carrying on towards Stonefall Park, you have to get across Wetherby Road, but there is no crossing, and no satisfactory way to do it, other than joining the traffic. This needs to be changed.
From the Leeds Road, take South Drive over the railway bridge, then
turn right on Warwick Crescent (signed for Hornbeam Park). Next, you
turn right on Hamilton Avenue -
but for the moment, there is no
signage for this turn. North Yorkshire County Council sorted
this out in September 2017.
At the end of Hamilton Avenue, go straight across Wheatlands Road, on Rayleigh Road. At the traffic lights, go across Hookstone Road, onto Hornbeam Park. Go all the way along Hornbeam Park, and turn left at the end onto the Showground Greenway.
Hornbeam Park is the place on this route where you're most likely to experience an inconsiderate pass. The lanes are narrow, so drivers should move right over to the other carriageway when overtaking, and leave plenty of room (Rule 163, Highway Code).
I've experienced bad overtakes on Hornbeam Park many times. One that particularly upset me was on Thursday 21st June 2018 at about 4.30pm. Car registration LB64LNT, which webuyanycar thinks is a Kia CEED Diesel Hatchback, overtook me without crossing the centre line of the road at all, therefore leaving very little space indeed - about 10cm. I was surprised and shocked, and unhappy about the overtake.
As is often the case, it was totally pointless, because I caught the car up at the lights. Through the closed window, I asked the driver politely but firmly to leave more space another time. I also pointed out that she was waiting with the whole of her car in the Advanced Stop Zone for bikes. She didn't lower the window or reply, but when the lights changed, she put two fingers up at me, and drove off.
This is what you put up with when you ride a bike around a British town. People drive in a way that intimidates vulnerable road users, mainly due to ignorance not malice. But this driver's behaviour demonstrates another feature unique to being in a car: you can drive dangerously, because you're putting other people in danger but not yourself, and you can be rude, because you are sealed up in a vehicle, so you don't have to justify or apologise for your rudeness. You just drive off and think there are no consequences.
On Hornbeam Park, there is no protected bike lane. I thought as a first step some education/signage might be worthwhile. I emailed Hornbeam Park in June 2018 to ask if they could help make conditions for cycling safer in this way, but they ignored my email, and the follow-up mail.
The next step will be to contact the council to request a cycle lane with physical protection.
From Hookstone Chase, near the Plumpton Park commercial centre, there's a cycle and foot path across Stonefall Park to Stonefall recycling centre and the Wetherby Road. The first part is made of a proper hard-wearing concrete-type surface, that looks as though it could date from the 1960s.
Further on, the park is part mown grass, and part wild flower meadow. It's fantastic to see the way Harrogate Borough Council have adopted practices which give insects and other wildlife the habitat they need.
When you get to the very busy Wetherby Road, you have to find a way across it. There is no crossing, which is a bad and glaring omission that should be rectified urgently. When you do cross Wetherby Road, you're on Railway Road on Yorkshire Showground land.
In the other direction, you can go via Stonefall Park towards Plumpton Park (Morrisons, Homebase etc). As soon as you go into the park, there's a fork with no sign indicating which way to go. There should be a sign here. In fact, left takes you towards Eleanor Road, but for Plumpton Park you should fork right and the path is the one described above. It arrives at Hookstone Chase very near the roundabout junction for Plumpton Park.
This map shows the different paths in Stonefall Park:
Although there is a light-controlled crossing to get across Hookstone Chase, if you're going to Plumpton Park, it's not clear what you're supposed to do after you've crossed. Cycle on the pavement, probably, but it's not a wide pavement and it isn't suitable as a shared use path. This should be looked at, and the arrangement improved.
Most of the improvements I suggested on the first version of this page have now been made, which is brilliant! These matters are still outstanding:
1. Signpost Plumpton Park from the Stonefall recycling centre.
2. Install a safe and convenient crossing of the Wetherby Road between the Yorkshire Showground and Stonefall Park.
3. Finish the cycle route to Plumpton Park - rather than letting it stop as soon as you cross Hookstone Chase.
4.Hornbeam Park is the weak link in this route, and cyclists need to be protected from dangerous drivers there. If Hornbeam Park were willing to engage, they could speak to businesses there, and pass a message about how to overtake people on bikes to employees and customers of the businesses.
Otherwise, a cycle lane with physical protection from the traffic could be built.
Do you have any more comments or suggestions?
The Nidderdale Greenway is a cycleway that runs from Harrogate to Ripley, a distance of about 4 miles. It follows the route of a dismantled railway, so it's largely flat.
Read about the Nidderdale
Red kites are native to Britain, but they disappeared altogether in England and Scotland in the 1800s, while a few remained in Wales. A reintroduction programme began in 1989, with birds from Scandinavia and Spain brought here. Inverness (Scandinavian birds) and the Chilterns (Spanish birds) were the first two places where they were released.
The Yorkshire Red Kite project began at Harewood in 1999, with the introduced birds coming from the Chilterns, where red kites were successfully breeding. Red kites have flourished in Yorkshire, and it is thought there are over 100 pairs here, with 35 of them in North Yorkshire. (These are likely to be conservative estimates). Kites have also spread to the Yorkshire Wolds, and a breakaway population has established itself there.
Red kites congregate over and around the Yorkshire Showground, and they can often be seen in surprisingly large numbers, circling overhead and swooping.
The Yorkshire Showground is home to quite a lot of wildlife, including many birds. In summer, swallows fly low over the grass, catching insects. Apparently carrion crows find it a welcoming environment, and they can be seen foraging.
Part of the Showground itself, and much of its surroundings, is woodland. Hedges divide up the open grass areas. Plenty of small songbirds, like wrens and robins, take advantage of the cover.