Visit Harrogate column with Mike Newby: Enjoy the great outdoors with ideas from our website

Family Day Adventure - make your way along a gorge in the Harrogate and District area.

Family Day Adventure - make your way along a gorge in the Harrogate and District area.

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There are definite signs of activity around VH HQ here in Knaresborough. Not only has the fine weather brought visitors to the town but there has been a lot of hard training for the Bed Race on June 11.

I wonder what those visitors who are unaware of this Knaresborough tradition (I suppose there may be some) make of beds hurtling past Conyngham Hall?

But we don’t all have to push a bed around Knaresborough to take advantage of the great outdoors in the Harrogate District.

There are plenty of ways to be active and get the pulse racing with exciting activities available above, on and below the ground.

These Boots Are Made For Walking

With the hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the plains of the Vale of York to enjoy, there really is a terrain and a walk for everyone as this newspaper’s current series on walks is illustrating. I wonder how many of us really know what is on our doorstep.

One excellent way to find out is to explore the area on foot. You can strike out on a route of exploration with your map and a few essential supplies or take it easy and enjoy the reassurance of following a simpler, well-trodden and signposted route.

There are plenty of ideas in the pages of this paper, at www.visitharrogate.co.uk/things-to-do/walking, www.nidderdaleaonb.org.uk/Pages/Walk-routes.aspx or www.boroughbridgewalks.org.uk/. Of course after your walk you can be sure of a warm welcome, and often a warm fire in local pubs and eateries, delicious home cooked food and a range of the local ales for which this area is so well known.

Whatever you choose don’t forget to be prepared for both the terrain and the weather.

Try Something New

This summer might be the time to try something new. In addition to finding new walking or cycling routes, how about making your way along the walls of a gorge above swirling waters, testing your archery skills or a spot of abseiling.

We feature a lot of ideas on the Visit Harrogate website. If that all sounds a bit too energetic, there are plenty of more relaxing ways to experience the great outdoors. Stroll in one of our numerous gardens, many of which feature activities for all ages.

Copies of our new Gardens Guide are still available in tourist information centres. A visit to Staveley Nature Reserve or a stroll on any of the walks featured earlier will reward the keen eyed with sight of a rich variety of flora and fauna.

Print or digital?

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, a misquotation of what American author Mark Twain once said but something that could be applied to print media today.

Each year at VH HQ we have the discussion on print or digital? Experience so far suggests that there is very much a place for both and that there continues to be a demand for printed guides to the district.

Interestingly there are a lot of people who go online to order a hard copy even though there is an online copy of the Visitor Guide.

Indeed the number of printed guides sent out in response to requests has increased this year as have numbers being picked up at local tourist information offices. The Visitor Guides have also proved more popular at a number of motorway service areas with increased take-up compared to last year.

Our new Gardens Guide has also proved to be very popular with thousands having been picked up or distributed in the six weeks since it was launched. Whilst print remains popular, the growth in use of digital media grows apace, certainly amongst those wanting to discover more about the Harrogate District.

Each month this year has seen thousands more visitors to the website compared to the corresponding month in 2015.

Significantly many of those new visitors are accessing the site via mobile devices rather than the traditional desktop.

Whilst on the topic of digital marketing; the English Tourism Social Media Index has once again placed Visit Harrogate at third in the regional league table.

We have also jumped eight places to 16th out of 129 destinations in the national league, well ahead of some much bigger and longer established tourism organisations.

Whilst the print or digital debate continues, there is one certainty: there are a lot of people both in the UK, and much further afield who are showing an interest in the Harrogate District, and that number is increasing.