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One of Harrogate’s best known landmarks, the Stray, is 200 acres of grass parkland that encompasses the town centre on the southern half, as well and giving the town a uniquely green and spacious feel, it provides a public space for games, walks and relaxation.
With so many great food and drink shops the stray makes for a great place to enjoy a picnic away from the bustle of the town centre, but with just a few minutes’ walk back to it.
Popular for kite flying and ball games the stray does also include football pitches for local groups and hosts two annual funfairs over the Spring and August bank holidays, as well as other events through the year including an annual and popular Stray bonfire in November.
The Stray dates back to 1778 when it was created from the forest of Knaresborough to link of Harrogate’s springs together in one area. Since the late 16th Century countless springs had been discovered around Harrogate and deemed to have medicinal properties for their high quantities of Sulphur, iron and other minerals.Over the years it has grazed livestock, been occasional side for the Great Yorkshire Show and Harrogate Flower Shows, been used as allotments and wheat fields during the second world war, and at several times been used as an airfield for light aircraft.
Today it has been returned to open grassland, and in spring takes on the beautiful colours as first millions of crocuses come into flower, which give way to daffodils, and then the long lines of cherry blossom trees and their iconic pink covering.
The Stray is protected by an act of parliament and its total area must remain constant, meaning if any of it is ever removed it must be replaced elsewhere, ensuring the great public space will always be there at the heart of the town.