We’ve decided to be local tourists during these strange times and check out places we can then recommend (or not!) to guests. This week we visited Castle Howard, a stately home which is 15 miles south of us. We’ve been there many times before, from visiting the wonderful Yorkshire Arboretum to Christmas Fairs in the main house, the latter with stalls run by the poshest people we’ve ever met.
Castle Howard isn’t a castle (we had fun explaining this to an American friend who wanted turrets and battlements) but it is a really iconic building having featured as the fictional “Brideshead” in both the TV and later film remake of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Its construction began in 1701, and it took over 100 years to complete.
We’ve never had a good wander round the grounds; we also wanted to see how they were operating in COVID times. It was easy to book on line; you choose a 30 minute time slot to arrive (they are pretty relaxed if you are early or late) and can then stay as long as you want in the grounds. Just quote your ticket reference number at the ticket office, pick up your map (along with some tips from the helpful staff) and set off.
It cost us £12.95 each to have access to all the grounds and gardens (there are group discounts for families and concessions) To visit the house costs extra; it’s not yet 100% open so we’d recommend checking out what is open when booking to decide if it’s worth the additional cost.
We really enjoyed our visit and spent a couple of hours exploring the grounds; we could have easily spent more time there. There is a real variety of landscape to wander round from woodlands, to lakesides to more formal gardens.
Plenty of folk were there with picnics and the size of the grounds meant that it didn’t feel swamped with people at all. There were a number of coffee stops around the grounds; our tip would be to avoid the one at the entrance, and make for the quieter ones inside. Or bring your own by making a quick detour to Malton to pick up your own picnic. You can also buy provisions from the Castle Howard Farm Shop; they have a good deli section as well as a butchers.
Castle Howard would be a great place to go as a multi-generational family. Included in the price is an adventure playground and a new tree top attraction, Skelf Island, perfect for kids. Along with the Farm Shop, there are also several gift shops in the grounds and there is also an excellent nursery selling a good range of plants. Much of the grounds and gardens near the house are accessible for wheel chairs.
Most of the estate is dog friendly; all that they ask is that dogs are kept on a lead at all times. They even offer free bones to doggy visitors from the Farm Shop.
So whilst it may not have the turrets and battlements of a castle, Castle Howard is well worth a visit.