It’s always a pleasure to walk along the famous Waterside in Knaresborough to the sound of rowing boats and laughter.
Most of us living in the Harrogate district have enjoyed a stroll along this beautiful street on a sunny day in the shadow of the town’s ancient cliffs and castle ruins.
And we locals aren’t alone.
The Waterside is one of Yorkshire’s most popular spots for visitors with its Mediterranean atmosphere, ice cream shops and cosy independent cafes.
How much better to actually live there the whole time?
The Waterside is a much sought-after address to own with house prices ranging from £260,000 to £580,000 and then some...
But life in this lovely spot is not all sweetness and light.
Sometimes people feel the interests of the Waterside - and the people who live there - get forgotten and over-looked in the tide of events.
Which is why last year a group of residents living there got together to form Waterside Residents Association.
In less than a year, it has started to make a difference to life in his lovely cobbled-stoned street next to the riverside in both small, and large, ways.
The new group does more than complain about dog poo or “excessively loud music from buskers” or “external seating at the ice cream parlour” - though it does discuss those sort of things at its regular meetings.
But, since it was founded in November 2016, Waterside Residents Association has already introduced ‘Flood Wardens’ to the area, in response to the terrible times of Boxing Day of 2015 when the Nidd burst its banks and the waters overflowed into several properties.
John Broadbent, chairman of Waterside Residents Association, said the group is concerned with taking practical action to help not only the residents of the Waterside but visitors as well.
He said: “Knaresborough is a very active and community-minded town but no one else seemed to care about the Waterside.
“In mid-2016, it was suggested that if we were concerned about issues on the iconic street that we live, we should form our own group to speak on behalf of everyone, not just as individuals.”
It’s a sentiment shared by all the members of this busy new group.
Judi Graham has lived at the Old Manor House with her husband for the last nine years.
The word “historic” was made for this stunning property.
Originally built as a hunting lodge for King John in about 1200 using a forest oak tree and its branches as support, James I later gave the house to his son, King Charles I, as a fishing lodge.
The house’s story has taken many twists and turns since the mulberry tree which still stands proudly in its garden was first planted more than 400 years ago.
One of Judi’s main concerns, one shared by her neighbours, is transport - specifically cars and cyclists and parking.
“The biggest issue is people driving into the Waterside. The signs say “access only” but this doesn’t mean drive in and have a look.
“There are car parks at both ends of the street which cost less than a £1 for an hour. It doesn’t work when you add cyclists and walkers and tourists to the mix.”
But what to do about it?
Introducing double yellow lines would make life difficult for residents themselves.
Something has to be done for safety’s sake alone on this meanderingly narrow street with its blind bends.
Judi said: “We’re not against cycling but cyclists come whizzing around corners really fast and they don’t always ring their bell.
“Sometimes I hear them shouting “coming through” but you don’t know where they’re coming from.
“My friend has had a cyclist on the bonnet of her car before.
“Parked cars can also be a nuisance on our narrow road. I’ve heard of ambulances not getting through because someone has parked at just the wrong spot.”
Seen in this context, a walk amid the charms of the Waterside can reveal its own hidden traffic black spots.
As the Waterside Residents Association has grown bolder, signs saying “residents only” have started to appear along this famous street to stop what is describes as “bad parking.”
John Broadbent says the group is attempting to tackle three main issues:
Traffic and Parking - Increasing numbers of vehicles using Waterside and parking in positions that cause obstruction and on a number of occasions to emergency services and refuse disposal.
Planning - Ongoing issue that we can be made aware of any plans well in advance, both property and licence.
Flooding - The W. R. A. now has wardens in place to avert the problems of Boxing Day 2015.
No talking shop, after it first met, Waterside Residents Association quickly appointed groups of three or four people to investigate and report on the problems.
Since then, it’s been working closely with the authorities, including Knaresborough Town Council, Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council and The Environment Agency.
It’s now unlikely that the Waterside and its problems will ever be overlooked or forgotten again.
But the residents of this winding lane are no set of whingers or moaning-minnies.
Each year, they invite the public to feast their eyes the Hidden Gardens Of Knaresborough open garden event, which it holds on the Saturday and Sunday after the Bed Race.
With the support of small grants towards from Knaresborough Town Council and Knaresborough In Bloom, they’ve introduced hanging baskets and planters along the route.
John Broadbent and his wife can often be seen on their hands and knees doing the weeding and planting themselves along the length of the Waterside.
These lucky residents care about making the place where they are privileged to live nicer and safer.
Not just for themselves but for everyone who enjoys a stroll along it.