Harrogate Pinewoods and Valley Gardens

This is a family orientated walk from Harlow Moor Road in the west of the town into the Harrogate Pinewoods to the west of the famous Spa town and then to Harrogate's iconic Valley Gardens. It is a gem of a walk for lovers of woodland and parkland.

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Statistics and Files
Start: Harlow Moor Road Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4 km) Climbing: 40 metres
Grid Ref: SE288547 Time: 1 hour Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Harrogate
Start: Harlow Moor Road Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
Grid Ref: SE288547 Time: 1 hour
Climbing: 40 metres Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk:

Harrogate Pinewoods near Harlow Moor RoadHarrogate Pinewoods near Harlow Moor Road
A clearing within the PinewoodsA clearing within the Pinewoods

It was a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon in the second half of October. It was quite warm too. With the light and the warm I decided to leave the sofa and the afternoon sport to take a walk from my front door and walked along Harlow Moor Road to the offices and filling plant of Harrogate Spa Water, noted as the water available on the trains of England. The day was probably the last chance to enjoy the glorious autumnal colours of the trees anyway so I wholeheartedly took the opportunity to walk in the woods, particularly as I had neglected them during my absence for three months this summer while I walked 1,120 miles from the far north of Scotland to southern England. Many woods I had walked through and most thoroughly enjoyed but of course Harrogate pinewoods are ever a favourite of mine. I set off into them.

RHS Harlow Carr is close byRHS Harlow Carr is close by
Autumn leaf fallAutumn leaf fall

I was immediately thrilled as I walked through the woods and along the paths for the low autumn sun glinted through the trees and the thinning leaves of the deciduous types to cast a sublime colour deep into what in high summer will be a darker place. Walking on the crunch of recent fallen leaves heightened the enjoyment of the walk and with the thinning comes a deeper appreciation of the intricate shapes and entwining of overhead branches. I am always fascinated by trees. Families would love this walk too, the youngsters wouldn't be bored, in fact I am certain they would be exploring as avidly as I to find nooks and crannies in the wood; evidence of such were makeshift forts, dens and encampments I came across when wandering off the paths.

I wonder if this cosy nook has been usedI wonder if this cosy nook has been used
Into the light of Valley GardensInto the light of Valley Gardens

Another delight of walking in woodland is listening for the sounds of animals and birds scurrying about or taking their leave when people approach. As I walked I saw Magpies, Crows, Grey Squirrels, Starlings and Sparrows as I walked amidst the Scots Pine, Birch, Holly, Oak, Rowan, Beech, Sycamore, Alder, Hornbeam, Hawthorne, Whitebeam, Yew, Spruce and Larch. I am sure other small birds and rodents saw me too but I did not see them. After wandering in the deep woodland for about 45 minutes I emerged into the light of Valley Gardens where the larger trees, unrestricted by close neighbours stand in glory. Here Horse Chestnut also join in the serenity of the scene and I found many conkers. When I were a lad these would have been eagerly collected as soon as they fell, I guess conker fights are not as popular these days.

Autumn russetAutumn russet

The Horse Chestnut leaves had turned a lovely russet shade, always attractive as the leaves give up their summer green. Recent dry weather and todays sun left the fallen leaf very crisp and as I walked over them some crumbled into dust. Much better than the wet weather peril of fallen leaves creating skid areas, particularly when fallen on tarmac. Standing close by the Horse Chestnut were evergreens, remaining defiantly green to the darkening days and longer nights. We are so fortunate to have such varied species of tree with contrasting characteristics.

Valley GardensValley Gardens
Green canopyGreen canopy

Soon I had meandered enough across Valley Gardens and took my leave but as I walked along Harlow Moor Drive and then homebound on Harlow Moor Road I kept looking back, sideways and up to the trees. When I do so in a couple of weeks the deciduous will be bare and I will be sad for the trees. Until spring that is, time of a fantastic rebirth.

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