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The Derry-Londonderry Annual Meeting may have just passed, but the Venture Abroad team are already planning for the next Annual Meeting in Harrogate for June 2016. Venture Abroad’s Colette, Georgia and Katie packed their bags and set off on a very busy few days exploring the wonderful region of North Yorkshire.

First stop of the day was the beautiful RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Just a short drive from Harrogate and a 1.5 mile walk back to the town centre, Harlow Carr boasts an array of beautifully-styled gardens with 58 acres of land to explore. The gift shop and small garden centre are not to be missed, not forgetting Yorkshire’s finest Bettys Tea Rooms, situated in the gardens of Harlow Carr.

With only six in the UK, Bettys Tea Rooms is exclusive to North Yorkshire. Sampling the delights is an absolute must with 300 breads, cakes and chocolates to tuck into, as well as 50 different teas and coffees. Of course we couldn’t resist a cheeky cuppa (served in lovely silverware)!

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With the sun shining, we started to explore the wonderful delights of Harrogate town centre with its exquisite architecture and numerous tea rooms. It grew from a small village in the 1500s when a spring at Tewit Well was discovered to be rich in minerals, and to this day you can still buy water that’s manufactured from the local wells.

The Pump Rooms in the centre of Harrogate explain every little detail of Harrogate’s fascinating history, and you can even have a sneak peek at the famous Harrogate Well with the strongest sulphur well in Europe.

Our second day of the trip took us to all of the hotels that we’ve booked for the Harrogate Annual Meeting. It was really interesting to look around each one and see the amazing bedrooms and function rooms they have to offer, especially those steeped in history.

The morning of our final day was a wet one but luckily the weather brightened up and we were able to visit all of our planned excursions. First stop was the quaint village of Ripley, home to a traditional English pub, Ripley’s finest sweets, an ice cream shop, local church and of course Ripley Castle.

With its own tea room, flower and gift shop and magnificent grounds, the castle is a sight to behold. We were lucky enough to meet with Bob who treated us to a detailed tour of the castle and even let us try on the (very heavy) suits of armour!

The next excursion was Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, now recognised as a World Heritage Site with thousands of acres to explore – we couldn’t help but enjoy an autumn stroll around the ruins and gardens.

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Our Harrogate trip was shortly coming to a close as we negotiated the tight and winding roads around the Yorkshire dales, arriving at our last stop at Harewood House. The house is a living history, one with many stories still to tell. With its grand driveway leading up to the house and over 100 acres of exquisite gardens, there’s so much to explore. As well as its own terrace café, the Bird Garden gives you the chance to feed Harewood’s penguins (yes, penguins!).

Without a doubt, we’re all looking forward to the next few months of planning and can’t wait to return in June. Until then Harrogate!