These 200 acres of open space curving around the town centre are often wrongly referred to by estate agents as “parkland”, but have actually been common land from time immemorial.
This status was enshrined in law in 1778 when the Award of the Commissioners for the Enclosures of the Forest of Knaresborough stated: “The said two hundred acres of land shall forever hereafter remain open and unenclosed and all persons whomsoever shall and may have free access at all times…”.
The Stray continues to be protected by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, and by the 89-year-old Stray Defence Association, which helped to draw the Act up. Other strays exist in Redcar and York, which has four of them, but arguably none of them are as central to the character of their setting as is Harrogate’s.
It is the town’s 200-acre “green lung” and in its history has fulfilled a number of functions, from land for grazing and horse exercise to a site for bonfires, fairs, sports days and Diamond Jubilee ox roasts. In the first half of the 20th century it was even sometimes used as a temporary airfield.
In 2011, following a lengthy tussle between supporters and protesters, the 150-year ban on cycling was finally overturned on the Stray, and just three years later it was visited by cyclists from all over the world when it provided the HQ for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
The following three houses all command views of different parts of this huge green space, and are all currently for sale.
Separated from the heart of the town centre by West Park Stray, 3 Beech Grove House is a ground-floor apartment in one of the most sought-after blocks in town.
It has two double bedrooms, both with en suite facilities, a kitchen, open-plan sitting room and dining room, and a garden room. There’s also a useful basement storeroom and a garage and the flat also has use of residents’ parking areas.
Flat 1, 29 Park Parade is an elegant first-floor apartment on one of the oldest streets in High Harrogate, right next to Walkers’ Passage, which leads directly to the town centre.
It has two bedrooms, again both with en suite facilities, plus a kitchen and sitting room with three steps leading to a raised study area, and a large bay window overlooking Christ Church Stray. Access is to the rear, and can also be accessed via a lane to the side of Bilton House, where parking is also available.
Finally, Flat A, 8-12 Montpellier Parade is a first- and second-floor duplex apartment just down the hill from Bettys, overlooking Montpellier Stray. It has two double bedrooms, a bathroom and eaves storage on the upper floor and a shower room, kitchen-diner and spacious living room on the lower level.
Outside, there is on street parking available with a residents permit which is available from Harrogate Borough Council.