The park that is home to Mother Shipton’s Cave and the petrifying well is a unique, unspoilt remnant of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough. Sir Henry Slingsby’s Long Walk is described by English Heritage as “one of the best” of its kind and is one of Yorkshire’s top attractions. Over the last four centuries, millions of visitors from all over the world have been enchanted by the park’s natural beauty, mesmerised by the petrifying well and fascinated by Mother Shipton’s story.
When walking through the park from the main entrance there are many things to see. The bridge near the entrance is at the heart of one of Mother Shipton’s most famous prophecies: “The world shall end when the High Bridge is thrice fallen”. The black and white pub across the road, The Worlds End, takes its name from her foretelling. The bridge has fallen once already! There is also the viaduct, one of Knaresborough’s most famous landmarks; Knaresborough Castle; and the mill and weir.
All of these sights and more can be enjoyed as visitors walk along the woodland path that winds alongside the river and through what remains of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough. The park was once part of a grand estate sold by King Charles I in 1630 to a local gentleman, Sir Charles Slingsby. His grandson, Sir Henry Slingsby, landscaped the park and created the pathways, now known as Sir Henry Slingsby’s Long Walk.
In the past, this riverside path welcomed the many visiting gentry who travelled from London at weekends to visit the spa in Harrogate. Harrogate was once a small town so people often stayed in nearby Knaresborough. An important part of their day was promenading in the afternoon and the atmospheric park was the perfect place to stroll, with its ancient trees and of course the added attraction of Mother Shipton’s Cave and the petrifying well.
At the far end of the park is Beech Avenue. These beeches, planted in 1739 by Sir Henry Slingsby, are one of the largest collections in the country, as well as some of the oldest and tallest.
This beautiful park provides the ideal backdrop to a day out visiting Mother Shipton’s Cave and the petrifying well. There are three picnic areas and two children’s play areas, one of which is a brand new adventure playground!