One Traveller in Harrogate – perfect for a mature singles’ holiday

From the wild and windy moors of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights to the lush landscapes of Capability Brown, guests on One Traveller’s popular holiday based in Harrogate enjoyed an absolutely splendid time. Travel writer Carole Tidball caught up with the group during a visit to the magnificent Harewood House on the penultimate day of their 6-day adventure.

View of the formal gardens and grounds at Harewood House Award-winning family-run company One Traveller has been taking mature single travellers on holidays since 2007. Mostly to Europe and beyond but as the pandemic hit and tours were cancelled throughout 2020/21, One Traveller made the bold step to create a new range of UK-based holidays. Loyal customers originally destined for exotic destinations including Morocco, Vienna, Oman and Lake Bled happily transferred deposits and payments to enjoy a welcome break in the UK as soon as travel re-opened.

Some UK holidays quickly sold out and Harrogate proved so popular that One Traveller has now laid on four Harrogate holidays in 2022. Carole soon discovered why this Yorkshire spa town held such wide appeal and how One Traveller has earned such customer loyalty.

Reasons to love Harrogate

The spa town of Harrogate repeatedly ranks in the top 10 happiest places to live in Britain. Surrounded by rolling hills and a gateway to the dales, the town is full of quaint streets and tree-lined boulevards packed with independent boutiques. Iconic Betty’s Tea Rooms, the Turkish baths, galleries, historic homes and gardens provide even more tempting reasons for an extended stay.

One Traveller group in Reception The group of 28 One Travellers, ably led by experienced tour manager Richard Roberts and accompanied by enthusiastic Blue Badge Guide Claire, had begun their holiday with a guided walk of Harrogate’s markets, galleries and the Royal Pump House Museum. The planned group visit to Betty’s Tea Rooms had been cancelled because of Covid restrictions, so guests were given individual vouchers to use during their free time or to purchase goodies in the gift shop. One Traveller always seeks to gain the best outcome for their guests when things don’t quite go to plan.

More delights lay in store at remarkable Markenfield Hall, a short drive from Harrogate. This moated mediaeval manor house and much-loved family home only opens to the public for short periods of time and by prior arrangement. Guests enjoyed a morning tour with lunch before travelling back via historic Ripon Cathedral.

Queen Mary’s wedding dress For many, the highlight of this fascinating holiday was the day spent exploring Brontë country. During a scenic drive through the Washburn Valley, guests discovered what had inspired the infamous anthem ‘On Ilkley Moor Baht’At’. The return journey passed by Saltaire. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and industrial model village was created by Victorian philanthropist Sir Titus Salt to provide clean and sanitary housing for his factory workers and their families.

Red kites swooped overhead as the group gathered outside the entrance of Harewood House on their penultimate day. One Traveller had arranged for them to meet in the main entrance before the house opened to the public. There was a lively introduction in the company of Epstein’s marvellous and rather well-endowed alabaster statue of Adam, and a moment of panic when a tired guest lowered himself onto a Chippendale chair, not noticing the large sprig of holly placed on the seat to deter use – until he landed with a resounding crunch!

Covid staff shortages had foiled the plan to split guests into two smaller groups, each with their own tour guide. Instead, guests were given a free copy of the Harewood House guide, beautifully illustrated and written by David Lascelles, current Earl of Harwood, and allowed to wander at will. The friendly volunteers in each room – including a former One Traveller – greatly enhanced the visit by sharing their knowledge of the exhibits.

Turner’s oil painting Plompton Rocks in the library Harewood House was once home to Princess Mary, whose wedding dress and other personal items are proudly displayed – and has hosted royalty including Queen Victoria and Princes William and Harry.

Another frequent visitor was the artist JMW Turner who was invited to paint a series of watercolours of the house and castle, and oil paintings of nearby Plumpton Rocks. These masterpieces still adorn the walls along with paintings from Joshua Reynolds, Tintoretto, El Greco and Titian.

With furniture by Chippendale and décor by Adams, it’s no surprise that Harewood House has featured in period dramas including ITV’s ‘Victoria’ where it became Buckingham Palace, and ‘Downton Abbey’.

Harewood House used for filming scenes for Downton Abbey A generous and tasty lunch with wine, beer or soft drinks was walked off in the gift shop, second-hand bookstore and extensive grounds and gardens. Designed by ‘Capability’ Brown the landscaping includes a lake hand-dug by a team of workers, a bird garden and – a more recent addition – A Himalayan garden with Stupa built by monks from Bhutan. The fun-filled adventure playground makes Harewood House an ideal place for a day out for family and friends.

Reasons to love One Traveller holidays

Over 80% of their first-time travellers book with One Traveller again. The company really does care, and its ‘can-do customer-focussed’ attitude is typified by Tour Manager Richard when he says, “wherever I am travelling to in the world and whatever style of holiday I am leading, I have a simple but important focus for each holiday and that is this: People come first, middle and last in our business”.

Chippendale bed in the State Bedroom slept in by the young Victoria Guests spoke warmly of One Traveller’s attention to detail including receiving a pre-trip courtesy call to make sure everything is OK and to answer any questions; of being part of a community of like-minded travellers; and the fact that nearly all costs are included so you’re not paying extra for excursions and entrance fees or searching for places to eat each night. They also appreciate having a proper double room to themselves.

They especially liked the Unique Number system operating at dinner to help meet a range of fellow guests. “You’re never alone – unless you want to be – and this helps prevents cliques forming”, explained a repeat guest. “Everyone is given a Unique Number that the Tour Manager distributes randomly across the tables each night to indicate your place”. The oldest member of the group was a spry 94-year-old on his 25th One Traveller holiday. Bill was delighted to be ‘number one’ on this tour.

Finally, they appreciate the post-tour feedback form. They are confident that someone at One Traveller actually reads all their comments whether good and bad and acts upon any negatives to make improvements.

The group were on a 6-day Harrogate holiday.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends One Traveller for solo holidays.

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Carole Tidball

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