Castle Howard is one of those stately homes who’s name is familiar even if you’ve never visited. Made famous by the film Brideshead Revisited (with a remake made more recently in the same setting), it’s a beautiful house and estate not far from York. It was on my list to visit when we were on a break in York and decided to visit after our trip to Whitby.
I was expecting it to be heaving with us arriving on a very warm sunny afternoon, but we had no problems finding a parking space. While there were plenty of people around, there was only a short queue to buy a ticket, and nowhere was too busy. N decided he wanted to do the Easter trail (always a good way to keep him going when we visit somewhere, knowing there’s a prize at the end of it), and he didn’t moan too much when I said we’d be going in the house as well as round the gardens.
Castle Howard isn’t cheap so you probably want to make sure you’re there all day. There’s plenty to do with lovely walks around the lake and woods, trails, the house, shop, café, the land train and boating on the lakes.
Castle Howard – in the house
Castle Howard indoors is pretty jaw dropping in places. The start of building was in 1699, but took over 100 years to be completed. The dome is what it’s famous for and you can’t help but just stand and stare looking around at all the artwork details. The dome was rebuilt after a fire in 1940. It’s really beautiful.
There’s plenty of gorgeously decorated rooms to discover as you walk through the house.
When we were there, there was also an exhibition celebrating Brideshead Revisited and showing photography from behind the scenes of the filming of the 2 movies. I’ve not seen either, but it was still interesting to see the background to the film around the estate.
With the sprawling parkland, lakes and woodland to walk around, you can walk for a while without coming across crowds of people. Even the Easter Trail was a lot quieter than any National Trust events ever are. There were about 4 families going along the trail at the same time and pace as us, but it didn’t cause much hassle.
The trail was confusing though. You needed to find colourful eggs, mark them off, and then answer questions around ‘so and so took my eggs and another rolled away, how many do I have?’. Everyone seemed to be doing it differently, and it wasn’t clear up front whether you needed the totals from each location adding together, or just each slot. We’d gone to about 3 before we realised after overhearing others that we’d totally missed the point and the end question.
At the end everyone ended up with a different answer, none of us were quite correct and it seemed a few of the eggs had been moved or taken before we got there. It was still fun and was a different trail to most places we’ve been. And there was a little chocolate egg at the end for a prize.
We had a nice woodland walk for the trail and it ends at the boathouse, lake and huge playground. We didn’t have time to take a boat ride, but made the most of the warm weather to have an ice cream. And a play on the playground which has so many different pieces of equipment that we’ve not seen elsewhere.
I’d promised a ride on the landtrain back up to the reception. It runs every 20ish minutes and is free to ride. It was definitely a good idea after a full day of walking out and about in Whitby in the morning and then around the grounds of Castle Howard.
If you’re in the area, Castle Howard is definitely worth a trip. There was much more to see that N dragged me away from, especially the walled gardens. For the price, it’s good value for a good few hours visit.
Have you ever been? Where would you recommend nearby?
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