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Castle Howard Circular Walk

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The video below is pertaining to a Castle Howard Circular Walk of which route begins at the Obelisk at the Castle Howard entrance. It then takes you through fantastic scenery by the Obelisk Ponds, Castle Howard Lake, Coneysthorpe, the Mausoleum, the Temple of the Four Winds, New River Bridge as well as the castle wall and gateway.

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Castle Howard Best North Yorkshire Walks
Castle Howard Best North Yorkshire Walks

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Castle Howard Circular Walk

In this episode, we are going to conduct a circular walk amongst the stunning Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire. This walk includes a lake, a picture postcard village, various follies as well as a lavish family room. However, this walk satellites one of the county’s most notable stately homes and gardens, Castle Howard.

Castle Howard has a sizeable car park where the Castleline bus also calls between York and Malton bus station. Toilets and refreshments are available here too.

While you are here you can make friends with some of the local residents too such as these peacocks.

The Obelisk

Castle Howard Circular Walk

I’m starting the walk at the Obelisk and turning right towards Slingsby. This impressive structure situated within a roundabout is from 1714 by Sir John Vanbrugh. On the east side is an inscription which translates Virtually everyday is wet here. If you have the misfortune to come here you will need three jumpers, extra thick wooly socks and two umbrellas. I could have been built somewhere warm and dry like Rome but no. For some reason they built me in a place that only the Saxons could love. The structure is 24m tall.

We turn right from the car park and we follow the Roman road that is typically straight. This is one of the rare occasions when a straight road is far from unappealing. The grass verges are quite wide but when you have to walk on the road it should be on the right facing oncoming traffic and in single file.

Obelisk Ponds

Castle Howard Circular Walk

You’ll eventually come to the Obelisk Ponds which is a conversation area. Having said this, it was adorned with some elegant swan. The pond is very still returning some amazing reflections. A low bridge travels over the ponds so please be careful when crossing.

Castle Howard is adorned with man made lakes and other water features which adds to its overall beauty and appeal. It certainly bolsters its tranquility too. You might wonder why we are walking away from such a fascinating attraction as Castle Howard. In fact, we literally satellite Castle Howard through this entire 4 mile walk.

First however, we walk towards the crossroads at the top of the hill. On the subject of hills, there are no steep ascents, they are all gradual.

You’ll see some double gates but this is not where we turn off. As you are walking however, it’s a great idea to look behind and around you from time to time. I always recommend this on any walk because the things you can miss when you have your back to them.

Obviously on your right, and behind you, is Castle Howard but don’t worry if you don’t see it too well at this point because you get to see the south face from our walk today. As it is a straight Roman road, it doesn’t take too much effort or time to see the crossroads with a property on the left hand side.

The Great Lake

Castle Howard Circular Walk

It also doesn’t take you too long to notice another major attraction. On your right hand side is a large lake and without a doubt attracts waterfowl such as more Swan, but not limited to. This is known as the Great Lake, and I’m not sure if the word great is referring to it’s size or scenic views. Still, the wood you see in the distance is Ray Wood of which we meet shortly.

On your right, this lonely tent is a precursor to the popular Lakeside Holiday Park here. You can own or rent static holiday homes here and you can imagine this is a delightful area to enjoy a break away.

The Village of Coneysthorpe

Castle Howard Circular Walk

At the crossroads, we turn right for the picture postcard village of Coneysthorpe, and my parents once lived here for a short time. The road takes you to Malton which is around 4 miles away from the village. Coneysthorpe has a population of around 120 people.

You’ll meet the junction for the Lakeside Holiday Park and you’ve probably noticed the caravans by now. The village of Coneysthorpe is small but very picture postcard, and in keeping with the area it resides. The cottages are in Yorkshire Stone and look amazing.

You could say that the classic red phone boxes are a rarity these days but you do see them periodically. Many have been used to house defibrillators. You’ll also see some form or outbuildings that belong to the Castle Howard Estate.

Coneysthorpe is kind of a loop with stone cottages and a memorial around it, that stems from the Malton road. This road I travel along on the way to Malton later on a Castleline bus.

Footpath to Welburn and Bog Hall

Castle Howard Circular Walk

At the opposite side of Coneysthorpe there’s a footpath with a sign post to both Welburn and Bog Hall. Bog Hall is a farm and this extends your walk to around 7 miles long. However, we are going to follow a shorter route following the signs to Welburn, although we don’t go to nearby Welburn but back to Castle Howard.

The route now turns away from busy roads to more of a quiet track and you are surrounded by green pasture land as well as the Howardian Hills. To say it is an area of outstanding beauty would be an understatement. When planning a walk such as this, including some intriguing landmarks produces a far more interesting route. This route is feature packed owing to the nature of Castle Howard.

We have picked a warm and sunny September day which helps to augment the surrounding scenery. At any time of year, you are guaranteed some good views nonetheless.

At one point, it almost seemed that the track itself was a Roman road too, and eventually it splits. The walk you can download from the Castle Howard website. I decided to continue on the track and it took me to the left of Skelf Island. Admittedly, I believe I should have taken the left turn instead as I came to realise I had taken a shortcut of sorts.

As a photographer, my sanity is often questioned because I am constantly looking for interesting lighting, and photography is all about light and how we capture it. It doesn’t have to be bright sunlight such as today, but sunrise and sunset can create some fantastic light shows that attract the attention of a camera lens and the viewer.

Ray Wood

Castle Howard Circular Walk

Ray Wood sounds like the name of a professional football player, but in actual fact, it is the wood alongside Castle Howard. When arriving at this wood, this is where I had realised I could have just used the grassy path. Still I found a signpost for Welburn which took me away from the safe track I was originally on. The path to Welburn was just slightly overgrown but still manageable and passable.

Fortunately, this challenging path was quite short and I soon managed to get through it. I later met up with the bridleway, so you have a choice of taking a leafy shortcut, or following the official tracks.

Although a little obscured, you can hear and sense the Great Lake on the right hand side of you as well as hear the waterfowl in the distance.

A Track to Centenary Way

Using the downloaded route on my iPhone helped me to get my bearings which teaches us something. If you have a map with you on your smartphone, or even paper based, it is a good idea. Each Best North Yorkshire Walk has a text version on to assist you as well with some useful links thrown in.

Heading through a white gate, we simply follow a wall on the right hand side of you until we reach an area of enormous interest to everyone on foot. However, before we reach it, you cannot help but admire the surrounding countryside which looks amazing on a sunny day like today.

The Temple of the Four Winds

Castle Howard Circular Walk

The Temple of the Four Winds was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh but he never saw it completed as he died in 1726. It wasn’t completed until 1738 when the Stuccoist decorated the interior. The building sounds like a place of worship, but in actual fact it was simply a place for reading and refreshment. There is a cellar beneath where the servants would prepare food and drink for the family above. One thing I will say about the Howard family, they know how to live somewhat lavishly. Such an amazing place overall. It must have been a fantastic place to spend time as it overlooks some very scenic views that span into the distance.

I noticed a group of individuals meeting at the Temple of the Four Winds which I assume may have been on a guided tour.

The New River Bridge and Mausoleum

Castle Howard Circular Walk

Seeing the Temple of the Four Winds was outstanding enough but as I said, the Howards know how to live lavishly and this bridge wowed me.

You also can see this enormous structure on the left of you being the mausoleum. This sound somewhat macabre but still it was a tremendous and stunning structure. It is raised 90ft in the air and supported by 20 pillars. It is also one of the finest mausoleums of its kind in Europe. The irony is that just like death itself, the mausoleum stalks us for the rest of the way until we reach the main road.

Spending my formative years in Hovingham nearby, I enjoyed the ornamental bridge belonging to Hovingham Hall. However, the New Bridge a much, much bigger and grander. If you are wondering what river lies beneath the bridge, well you could be here a while. Nope, its not the River Derwent. It’s actually an artificial river that runs through Castle Howards gardens. You can see the house from the top of the bridge, and sadly just out of view is the cascade. From the other side of the New River Bridge you can see a reedy pool which kind of reminded me of the reeds in the lake at Ampleforth Abbey, although they were much different variety.

Ahead of this fantastic bridge which is huge especially for an ornamental bridge, the path continues in a straight line through agricultural fields until it meets with another road going across, a road by the way which is a portion of the Centenary Way which is a walking route between Filey and York Minster.

Centenary Way

Castle Howard Circular Walk

Immediately after the New Bridge I could see people walking the opposite way as well as people walking along the Centenary Way in the near distance. Don’t be sorry about leaving these fascinating structures behind because you can still see them until we reach the main road. Somehow, they appear even more stunning when you incorporate the surrounding scenery in which they are in situ.

At this point, I personally could have scored this walk a million out of ten as far as scenery and intrigue was concerned. Perhaps it was helped by the good weather too. Either way, this is a very enjoyable and rewarding walk to accomplish, and although both the 4 mile version and the 7 mile version includes views of the structures, it is the 4 mile walk where you can get to touching distance.

Interestingly, as soon as I passed the Temple of the Four Winds, the literal wind was picking up and it was noticeable along the flat land south of Castle Howard. If you haven’t patience for photographers then this walk isn’t for you because you often seen hobbyist photographers taking shots along this route and it is not surprising.

The harvest has been accomplished but it appears there’s still some baling to be done. In any case, what a fantastic place to work the land.

I found myself in this enormous green space, in fact there is an enormous sense of space here, almost similar to that of the Hole of Horcum but in a different landscape. When you commit yourself to achieving a walk such as this, it helps you to appreciate how blessed you are for living in North Yorkshire.

As you walk along Centenary Way, you start to see signs of the house on your right hand side. It is initially behind a hill but as you walk further along the hill disappears to reveal the house in its fullest. However, this of course is the south of the house.

In any case, house or not, the views are simply stunning and it really makes this walk extremely worthwhile. It was obviously popular with other walkers too which is understandable.

Even if you do the Bog Hall version of the route, you still encounter good views of the Temple of the Four Winds, the Mausoleum and the New River Bridge and we may return to accomplish the Bog Hall version.

The Pyramid begins to get larger as we get closer. It has recently been restored and was designed by the same designer as the mausoleum, Nicholas Hawksmoor. It’s actually one of Castle Howards most mysterious follies.

Castle Howard

Castle Howard Circular Walk

As I mention, you eventually get to see Castle Howard more clearly as you gradually walk up hill. It may not have been apparent up to now, but we’ve practically satellite this structure from the start.

You can make out some of the statues in the garden such as Silenus who in Greek mythology was connected to the wine God, Dionysus. Actually, the whole of the structural landscape is based on Greek mythology.

You can also see a fight for the pedestal between Hercules and Auticus. If you own a pair of good binoculars, it is worthwhile bringing them with you to view objects such as this.

The dome you see actually caught fire in 1940 and was completely damaged. In fact, a third of the roof was taken. It was another twenty years until a full restoration took place although a temporary roof was put in place before it was fully restored.

Of course, many people recognise it from the Brideshead Revisited fame and has been a filming location for other films and television series including ITV’s Victoria.

Aforementioned, the mausoleum follows behind you which we try not to see as a metaphor. In any case, it is hard to imagine the structure being associated with death and memorial because of its grand and aesthetic appearance. You could place the same structure in a capital city and you would assume it was a concert hall or a theatre. As a tip, use a search engine to look at photos of the mausoleum on the inside, you will see it is just as impressive internally as it is externally.

We have covered many walks thus far on Best North Yorkshire Walks, and this is one of those routes where you just don’t care about foot fatigue, you just want the scenery to continue.

The Stray Walls

Castle Howard Circular Walk

You soon begin to witness the interval towers of the Stray walls that form an attractive approach to Castle Howard from the south along the Roman road where we began our walk. Like the castle itself, Vanbrugh designed the walls, towers and archways in 1723. They make a stunning approach not only to our walk, but to Castle Howard as well.

By this time looking towards the house you get to see some of the other amazing statues including the Atlas Fountain. In fact, you soon realise just how huge this castle is and especially when you include the estate into the equation too.

The Stray Wall was more ornamental than defensive, unlike the York City Walls. Vanbrugh designed to impress not to defend, not in the 1700’s. Still these interval towers look like they had a defensive purpose, perhaps Vanbrugh based his design on York’s walls considering they are only a few miles down the road. No matter where his ideas derived from, the walls and arches testify to the lavish castle beyond them.

Sometimes you encounter farm traffic along this lane, so you might want to be aware of that if you come here. Even on a lane like this, at times you may need to walk on the right and in single file.

However, this lane follows the wall to the very narrow arch through the gatehouse for a want of a better term. It is quite amazing to see vehicles that are quite wide in formation gently squeeze through the archway. Even the Castleline bus seems to sail through quite easily though the arch is single lane.

It doesn’t matter which side of it you look, its equally as impressive, and from here you can see the straight road flow over the hills without bending, the nature of Roman design. In fact, they are almost as impressive as the castle itself.

Although not on our route, you can walk through the arch and see the Earl of Carlisle Monument which is as tall as the Obelisk but it has this fantastic gold crown on the summit. You may even want to extend your walk and head over to see it close up.

Back to the Obelisk

Castle Howard Circular Walk

Back on our route however, we want to look right towards the Obelisk once again and head towards it. Again, this road is quite busy heading towards Slingsby.

This of course is a must not. When walking on a road we should always walk on the right hand side and in single file. When there is a grass verge which is ok to walk upon, then we should use it. When there is a blind corner bearing right, it is oftentimes best to cross carefully to the left so that oncoming traffic as well as behind can see you. Some favour using high visibility clothing or something reflective.

Moving further downhill you will meet a kind of folly bridge and it may serve as somewhere to rest for a moment or two.

Visting Castle Howard

Castle Howard Circular Walk

Of course, Castle Howard is not just somewhere to visit for a walk, but the house and gardens are open under normal circumstances. There is also an excellent garden centre, a House Gift Shop, Farm Shop, Tree Nursery, three cafe’s as well as a coffee shop and also Skelf Island which is an adventure playground for the youngsters.

Back at the car park, there are buses for York and Malton on the Castleline route here and at the time of filming there was a timetable on display.

We have enjoyed our walk today, and we hope you enjoy yours too. Until next time.

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