Stray Talking: Cherry blossom walks in The Stray

Thursday, 10 May 2018
Stray Talking: Cherry blossom walks in The Stray

Fashion editor, stylist and Harrogate resident Stephanie Taylor shares her insider tips on where to go – and what to wear – in this quintessentially stylish town.

If there’s one place that encapsulates the ethos of town-meets-country, it’s surely Harrogate. An usual feature of the town is The Stray, 200 acres of open parkland surrounding much of its centre. It’s crossed by long paths and various stretches of it are used by local people for outdoor events, sports, walking and picnicking.

The Stray exists today because the town began life as two villages, High and Low Harrogate. When, from the late 1500s onwards, medicinal springs were discovered on common land close to each village, they were deemed public property, meaning that anyone and everyone should be allowed to drink from them and have access to do so. The land has been preserved by various acts of Parliament ever since, and jealously guarded, so that nothing, not even flower beds, can encroach on the space (although in 1914, it was used as a temporary air field).

A map of The Stray from 1821, showing High and Low Harrogate.

The grassland has been planted with millions of crocuses, a joy in early spring. But the crowning glory of The Stray is its hundreds of pink cherry trees, now in full blossom – a little late this year due to the weather, but all the more welcome for it. There are two long cherry tree walks and, while the blossom lasts, townsfolk and visitors like to promenade along them, taking pictures, comparing the colours and opulence of blooms with previous years.

The cherry blossom begins as a deep berry tone and then turns to a paler pink, gently vibrant and soft. Cordings has a nehru collar tweed jacket in a shade very similar. It’s beautifully light, in a blend of linen, wool and silk, and its lovely pink will last rather longer than the cherry blossom.

Stray Blossom inspired outfit, featuring the Nehru wool, silk and linen jacket.

The jacket’s flattering, tailored shape works well teamed with a fluid skirt, especially in white, although it looks equally chic paired with slim jeans. Finished with matching tote and a pair of Cordings frankly gorgeous two-tone tan suede and leather brogues, it’s an easy yet polished look, the perfect outfit for taking a turn through those cherry trees, before calling in for lunch or afternoon tea at one of the Harrogate’s genteel Stray-side hotels.

Pink Nehru Collar Tweed Jacket, £285
White Pleated Cotton Skirt, £129
Purple Running Hare Cotton Shirt, £79
Pink Raffia Tote Bag, £45
Tan Suede and Leather Brogues, £159

Harrogate’s Stray cherry blossom walks are a must. Go and see, before it all blows away. Meanwhile, here are some more of my Harrogate diary picks for the summer.


Royal Hall Open Days, May 16, June 5, June 14, 2018. Harrogate’s Kursaal was completed in 1903 to provide entertainment for the rich and famous visitors who came to take the spa waters. There are guided tours at 11am and 2.30pm each of those days, no booking required. Call 01423 500500 for details.

Valley Gardens 1940s Day, Saturday, June 17, 2018. The war-time spirit takes over Harrogate’s Valley Gardens for a free, fabulous, fun day out for the family with vintage stalls, military vehicles, live swing bands, funfair rides, bouncy castle, tea and cake, tombola, bar and Pimms tent or bring your own picnic. See

RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show, June 22-24, 2018. A full programme of talks and demonstrations, browsing and buying, and then walk through the beautiful gardens to see Harlow Carr’s famous dolly-mixture candelabra primulas. Entrance is included in normal entry and the show is open 10am–5pm. Visit