Knaresborough is a picturesque market town in North Yorkshire, England, four miles east of Harrogate. The town is bounded to the west by the deep gorge of the River Nidd, with a railway viaduct vaulting over.
The Tourist Information Centre is on Market Place HG5 8AG, near the castle. In summer it's open M-W & F 10:00-17:00, Th & Sa 10:00-13:00.
See also Harrogate, as many transport routes come that way.
1 Knaresborough railway station is on a loop of line connecting Leeds (45 minutes, two per hour) and York (30 minutes, hourly); Northern Rail run this service. Anywhere else will involve a change at Leeds or York. York is the better connection for London Kings Cross, journey time under 3 hours.
Note that at York station, the loop train via Knaresborough is shown as going to Burley Park, in the Headingley / University area of Leeds, to avoid sending travellers to Leeds a long way round. Conversely at Leeds station, the loop train may be shown as going to Poppleton, a small halt just outside York.
Between Harrogate and Knaresborough use frequent Bus 1, see "Get around" below.
Bus 780 runs between Knaresborough and Wetherby, Mon-Sat every two hours, taking 30 mins. It runs along B6164 via Little Ribston, and doesn't take the main road through Spofforth.
Bus 22 runs from Harrogate via Knaresborough to Ripon, Mon-Sat every two hours, taking an hour. Taking Bus 1 into Harrogate then going north to Ripon on Bus 36 takes about the same time. From Ripon, Bus 22 continues east to York, but you'd only take that route to reach intermediate small places such as Kirk Hammerton and Boroughbridge.
Neither National Express nor Megabus call at Knaresborough.
By road, Knaresborough is on the A59 between Harrogate and York.
Knaresborough is compact and easily explored on foot. Cycling is a good option for out-of-town, eg Ripley Castle. It's only four miles to Harrogate but this is along the main road A59, which is often busy.
Harrogate Bus 1 runs from Harrogate bus station through Knaresborough (20 min) to St James Retail Park on the eastern edge of town. Buses run every 8 mins or so, from 6 am to midnight.
- 1 Knaresborough Castle, Castle Yard HG5 8AS. Daily 11:00-16:00. This is where you flee to if you've just assassinated Archbishop Thomas Becket. Originally built by the Normans circa 1100, the castle's royal heyday was 1200-1400. In 1648 it was "slighted" by the Parliamentarians, ie partly demolished to prevent rebels using it in future, along with many other castles across the British Isles. This morphed into an early green recycling scheme, as the citizens promptly looted the ruins to build their own mansions with "castle stone". Admire what's left in this pleasant park overlooking the river. Free.
- 2 Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Well, Prophecy Lodge, High Bridge HG5 8DD, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. April-Oct M-F 10:30-16:30, Sa Su 10:30-17:30. Ursula Southeil or "Mother Shipton" (1488-1561) is supposed to have been born here, and to have made various scary prophecies. Much of what's attributed to her is later invention, especially the famous prophecy "The world to an end shall come, in eighteen hundred and eighty-one." This was written in 1862, and later amended to "1981" when cosmic events failed to oblige; there's probably a 2021 version coming soon.
Her supposed birthplace, the cave of the Petrifying Well, is a mix of creepy and tacky. It's a rock overhang with a continual drip of lime-rich water from above. The limestone solidifies, as if building a stalagmite, so any object left here for a few months gradually turns to stone. A whole tourist trade has built up around this: teddy bears and similar soft toys are popular sacrificial objects, what's that really all about? Adult £7 + parking £2.
- What is believed to be the 3 oldest chemist's shop in England is at 16 Market Place, in a 17th C timber-framed building marked with a blue plaque. But it ceased to be a chemist's in 1997 and is now the Lavender Tea Rooms. Boots is just round the corner.
- Harrogate is worth a day to explore, and has better eating & drinking options.
Walk along the river and take in the scenic views.
- The Crown Inn, 71 High St, is run by JD Wetherspoon, open 8 am to midnight.
- Best Western Dower House Hotel & Spa, Bond End HG5 9AL (Off A59 at main crossroads), ☎ . 3-star hotel in 15th C red-brick manor. B&B double from £130.
This is Leeds & York commuterland, so mobile & Wifi in town are fine.
York, Leeds and Ripon are easily accessible by public transport. You'll need your own car to explore the Yorkshire Dales and National Park.