The fairytale town set high up on cliffs two hours from Greater Manchester

It looks straight out of a fairy tale; medieval streets, two castles and a town center set high up on cliffs.

But Knaresborough, a stunning spa town nestled above the Nidd River in North Yorkshire, is only a two hour drive from Manchester – or just under two hours by train.

Those who choose to travel via train will be rewarded with breath-taking views of the area and river from the railway viaduct on arrival.

Knaresborough is rich in history and tradition, located a few miles north east of Harrogate.

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And, despite being more than 60 miles from the coast, it’s has a promenade at the base of its cliffs – giving a seaside feel to the place.

what to do


The iconic red and green boats

Take in the views Knaresborough has to offer from the River Nidd itself.

Whether you’re a pro rower or just a beginner, hiring a boat is a great way to get to know the area.

Or you can hire someone to do the rowing for you, allowing you to explore from an iconic red and green boat, without all the elbow grease.

Historic tours on a punt are also on offer, complete with a guide to talk you through Knaresborough’s traditions and tourist attractions.

The boats will be operating again from March 2022.

Mother Shipton’s Cave

Mother Shipton’s Cave

If you’re looking for a slice of history, then Mother Shipton’s Cave – and the nearby Petrifying Well – are a must-see.

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The Cave is the birthplace of – you guessed it – Mother Shipton, who was born Ursula Sontheil in 1488.

She’s England’s most famous Prophetess and foretold the fates of several rulers during her lifetime, along with the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, according to her website.

The dropping well

Meanwhile the Petrifying Well, also known as a dropping well, is an unspoiled remnant of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough.

It’s the oldest tourist attraction to charge a fee in England, and has been operating since 1630.

Visitors can explore the Cave and the Well during the weekends from March 2022.


Knaresborough Market

Each week, stalls fill the popular Knaresborough Market, offering a whole host of produce, wholefoods, plants, flowers and more.

The Market is open from 7.30am until 3pm every Wednesday.


Allerton Castle, Knaresborough

Knaresborough is home to not one, but two remarkable castles – both surrounded by gorgeous greenspaces.

Knaresborough Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, whose grounds are open as a public park all year round.

Meanwhile, Allerton Castle is a grade I listed nineteenth century Victorian gothic house. It was owned by Prince Frederick – known as the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ and brother to King George IV.

Both castles are open to visitors seasonally.


Knaresborough has a range of independent cafes and restaurants, serving cuisines from Indian and Japanese, to your favorite pub grub.

Visit The Ugly Duckling Tearoom for hot chocolate or a warming soup – and a selection of vegan treats.

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Or pop into The Guy Fawkes Arms for a top-tier Sunday roast, followed by a wide range of delicious desserts.

where to stay

There are plenty of accommodation options in Knaresborough

There are plenty of accommodation options in and around Knaresborough.

If you want to stay in the heart of the town, there are a number of luxury hotels and B&Bs only a stone’s throw away from the centre.

Teardrop Cottage is located in Nidd gorge, not far from the town center and complete with a hydro hot tub. The Miter Inn is adjacent to the railway station, serving specialty coffees and ales.

Slightly further out, Rustling Pines lets out static caravans set in the Knaresborough Lido. Each caravan accommodates up to six people.

Or continue your history tour and spend a few nights in the former home of Princess Mary, Goldsborough Hall, a 16th century stately home offering luxury accommodation surrounded by manicured gardens.

You could also stay in nearby Harrogate, from where a bus service can take you to Knaresborough in 20 minutes.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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