A Day in Yorkshire's Turkish Baths and Gardens

   Two weeks ago I finished my MFA dissertation and was in much need of some relaxation and new inspiration. Browsing the internet, trying to find somewhere to travel that would not cost me my coffee budget for the next month, I found out there was a Turkish Bath house in Yorkshire! Now, perhaps this is not that surprising for native UK citizens, but for me it was thrilling news. So last Thursday I packed my bag and took two trains to the spa town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire. 

 Colonnade and Sun Parlours in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate. 2015

Colonnade and Sun Parlours in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate. 2015

Off the train and with a fresh latte, I meandered down through the small city center full of clothing boutiques towards the Valley Gardens and Pine Woods. The gardens lead into a recreational field, then into the woods, and finally ends with the RHS Garden Harlow Carr.  I never made it to the RHS Gardens due to time constraints, but even in February the Valley Gardens were delightful. A bit bare perhaps, but the grass was green and little pink buds and roses were easy to find. 

My favorite part of the nature walk was the Pine Woods. This 96 acre woodland conservation area is just amazing. Muddy, a little bit of snow, and absolutely stunning. The trees are tall and healthy, birds and squirrels are in abundance, the varied footpaths distribute the walkers, and the dogs run off leash enjoying some rare freedom. I miss nature quiet frequently living in cities, and this walk was quite therapeutic. 

After my walk I went back up to the city and to the Turkish Baths and Health Spa. I made sure to go for the mid week discount and booked a ladies only time slot. Bathing suits optional for the single gendered bookings. For a 4 hours time allotted, the price of this treat is reasonable at 17 pounds. The dozen or so women were a balanced mix of nude, topless, or full suits so any choice you made would fit in. The baths involved a staged process of the eucalyptus steam room, shower, plunge bath (which literally took my breath away the first time I dove in), and three heated rooms that worked up to 55C. I spent the recommended 20 minutes in each heat room working from the coolest to hottest, with a steam and plunge in between each temperature increase. By half hour cool off room, I was relaxed, drowsy, and my skin felt tight and smooth. It was lovely. 

My trip to Harrogate was just what I needed after months of research and writing. The town is quaint, friendly, and offers shopping, nature, food, and should you like - a spa house. If you are in need of a splurge, I would definitely recommend spending a day here. If I could have afforded a B&B, I would have slept over and gone walking again in the morning. But thankfully York is a 30 minute train ride away and full of budget hostels. Until next time Harrogate! 

 Pine Woods View. 2015

Pine Woods View. 2015