HARROGATE – the very picture of genteel Yorkshire respectability – owes its landscaped appearance and early prosperity to the discovery of Tewit Well in 1571. This was the first of more than eighty ferrous and sulphurous springs that, by the nineteenth century, were to turn the town into one of the country’s leading spas. Tours of the town should begin with the Royal Baths, facing Crescent Road, first opened in 1897 and now restored to their late Victorian finery. You can experience the beautiful Moorish-style interior during a session at the Turkish Baths and Health Spa. Just along Crescent Road from the Royal Baths stands the Royal Pump Room, built in 1842 over the sulphur well that feeds the baths. The town’s earliest surviving spa building, the old Promenade Room of 1806, is just 100 yards from the Pump Room on Swan Road – now housing the Mercer Art Gallery.
To the southwest (entrance opposite the Royal Pump Room), the 120-acre Valley Gardens are a delight, while many visitors also make for the botanical gardens at Harlow Carr, the northern showpiece of the Royal Horticultural Society. These lie 1.5 miles out, on the town’s western edge – the nicest approach is to walk through the Valley Gardens and pine woods, though bus #106 will get you there as well.