'No one is wearing designer labels - everybody is equal' says Harrogate naturist ahead of open day at historic club

A naturist club a 15-minute drive from Harrogate is inviting newcomers to give it a try at an open day later this month.

Valley Sun Clubs six-acre woodland site has been operated by its members since 1930
Valley Sun Clubs six-acre woodland site has been operated by its members since 1930

Valley Sun Club’s six-acre woodland site has been operated by its members since 1930, who say they are eager to show it off from 10am on July 18.

Activities include boules and a nine-hole pitch and putt golf course – as well as sunbathing on its expansive lawns.

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A clubhouse with licensed bar is open at weekends where, alongside a pool table and darts, karaoke is a popular attraction

The open day is from 10am on July 18

Steve Knight, a club member for three years, said he feels he can completely relax when he heads to the club at the end of a day's work.

And although he detests organised sports outside the club, once he's there he's quite happy to play boules or golf.

He said: "It is like being a different person. I can put the stress of the day behind me and listen to the birdsong in the woods and look up at the clouds.

"It's just completely relaxed."

British Naturism, a members organisation which promotes naturism, hosted hundreds of events and workshops including a naked cook-a-long, yoga, book club and pub quiz during the pandemic and says it has had more new members than it has seen for years.

Steve says their membership is generally from people "a little later in life, but not exclusively".

He said: "Looking at our members some of them have been members all their lives, coming since they were kids and naturism is the life they are used to.

"There are others who have a mid-life epiphany, they've been on holiday to Spain and happened on a naturist beach and tried it out and thought that on a hot day it might be more comfortable not to be surrounded by polyester and other fabrics."

For those not prepared to go "free range" the club offers safety and security - and no one questioning why they are walking around with no clothes on.

Steve says they take a more relaxed attitude with regards to clothing than other clubs, and people are free to wear as little or as much as they want.

"If it's hot and they want to undress fine. If it's damp and breezy and you want to keep your T-shirt on, fine, whatever feels appropriate at the time."

The club is a 15-minute drive from Harrogate and Betty's Tea Rooms and the Harrogate Turkish Bath. It is also perfectly located for walks along the beautiful Nidd Gorge, while walking and cycling routes nearby allow easy access to the village of Ripley and the ancient market town of Knaresborough.

"One of the great things about nudity is that it is a great leveller. No one is wearing designer labels, an outfit that's smarter - everybody is equal," added Steve.

"Yes it is Harrogate and yes it is known for being posh, but our members aren't all from Harrogate, we have them from as far away as the Lancashire coast, Hertfordshire and all over Yorkshire. It isn't just full of the hoity toity of Harrogate."

As for the open day people don't have to strip off straightaway. "We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable.

"You can stay as long or as short as you want in however much of your clothes as you feel appropriate.

"No one is expected to hang their clothes on the back of the gate when they arrive."

Many members have a caravan on site during the summer season allowing them to stay as often as they wish at no additional charge.

The club is also open to members who may only want to camp occasionally. Non-members with caravans, motor homes or tents are welcome to stay by prior arrangement and well-behaved dogs are also welcome. A caravan is also available for rental.

Two shower and toilet blocks provide plentiful hot water and indoor washing-up facilities are available for campers, too.

Individual membership is £135, double for a couple, and £430 for access to the club for a year with a caravan on site.

Open Day visitors can take advantage of a half-price membership offer.

To book your place, or for more information, contact [email protected] or telephone 07340 177142.