Reopening of Harrogate district's oldest visitor attraction

One of the Harrogate district's oldest and most popular visitor attractions says it's delighted to see families returning after its first weekend of re-opening since lockdown.

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 10:53 am
A family at Mother Shipton's as visitors start to return to the historic Knaresborough attraction.

First opened in 1630, Mother Shipton’s is the oldest known paid tourist attraction in England and now includes the famous cave, the magical Petrifying Well with cascading water and a large adventure playground.

Visitors to Mother Shipton’s not only have fun but also learn about the famous Yorkshire prophetess who was born in a cave beside the River Nidd in 1488.

But a year which started with horrendous flooding at the site and heavy storms was followed by the lockdown for coronavirus introduced by the Government in late March.

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A spokesperson said: "It’s been a very difficult year for us. The storms we had earlier in the year caused damage to the park and trees, as well as washing away fencing, signs and damaging audio boxes.

"On what was supposed to have been our 390th year of being open since 1630, it has been very strange to see the attraction empty for almost three months because of coronavirus."

But staff used the down time well. In the run-up to last weekend and its reopening, they successfully fixed the problems caused by the appalling weather.

In keeping with the guidance on social distancing issued by Government as lockdown eases, they put up signage, introduced one-way systems and organised a time-based booking system for cars only at the moment.

A spokesperson for Mother Shipton's Cave said: "Introducing staggered arrival times has meant that the park has been flowing steadily with visitors through the weekend and visitors have been able to adhere to social distancing.

"There’s been space for visitors to feel confident and safe, lots of picnics on the grass and kids getting some good old fresh air with our Pixie Village trail.

"We have had many families visiting for their first outing since the start of lockdown."

It certainly seems to have worked if the feedback on Facebook is to be believed.

Among the posts by recent visitors are:

“Thank you for a lovely day, our first family day out since lockdown. Really well organised and not overbooked.

"Impressed to see the toilets being cleaned after each person and the staff were really friendly.

"Recommend to anyone, definitely felt safe and lovely to go back to such a magical place.”

“Thank you so much. We had a lovely time. We really enjoyed our first day out since March!!”

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