Explore breathtaking English gardens designed on a monumental scale with statues, fountains and woodland walks. Learn all about the historic city of York, home to one of the world’s most magnificent gothic cathedrals and climb the 275 steps for an impressive view of Yorkshire.
Your day begins at Castle Howard, home to the Howard family and one of England’s finest historic houses and gardens. Start with a tour of the 18th century house, where the knowledgeable guides can lead you through the inspiring building highlighting the world-renowned collections of furniture, paintings, bronze and china. Pop into the coffee shop where you can enjoy a locally-made patisserie before you step into the breathtaking grounds. The gardens at Castle Howard have been designed on a monumental scale with over 1,000 acres to explore. You’ll find statues, lakes, temples and fountains along with an 18th century walled garden. Take a stroll through Ray Wood, the woodland garden acknowledged as ‘a rare botanical jewel’ and see the many trees, shrubs, rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas. There are events held here throughout the year.
The 30-minute drive south on the A64 to our next place of interest, the city of York, will take you through the Howardian Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Historic York is renowned for its architecture, gothic cathedral, cobbled streets and fabulous shops. Explore the city on the river Ouse with a York Boat trip, a relaxed way to see the best sights. Once you have your bearings, visit the world-famous Bettys Tea Room, opened in the 1930s. Here you can enjoy an English afternoon tea as it should be, with a gleaming silver cake stand full of sandwiches, cakes and scones while you listen to the pianist.
Next on to York Minster, one of the world’s most magnificent gothic cathedrals with stunning architecture and stained glass windows. Take a tour and climb up the 275 steps in the Central Tower, where you’ll find the best views of York and the surrounding countryside.
Love chocolate? Visit York’s Chocolate Story in King’s Square where you can learn all about the history of York’s most famous chocolate making families. You’ll even get to make some chocolate and taste it! There’s plenty to keep you entertained in the evening. Experience the Original Ghost Walk, make (or lose) some money at York Racecourse or even enjoy an opera. The choice is yours!
After a hearty English breakfast, take in the Yorkshire countryside as you drive along the A166 to Burton Agnes Hall. Built between 1598 and 1610 by Sir Henry Griffith, Burton Agnes Hall is an Elizabethan stately home that has remained in the same family for over 400 years. It’s full of treasures, from historic carvings and paintings to contemporary furniture and tapestries. Enjoy a morning coffee in the Courtyard Café before you explore the magnificent award-winning Elizabethan gardens.
The gardens showcase over 4,000 different plants, a national collection of campanulas and more than 100 yew topiary bushes. There is so much to explore, including a classical pond with a fountain and pebble mosaic garden, herbaceous borders and woodland walk including wildlife sculptures. Get lost in the jungle garden and maze, and play one of the giant board games. Burton Agnes Hall has events throughout the year, including the Snowdrop Spectacular, Orchid Festival and Gardeners’ Fair.
It’s just over an hour’s drive to our next garden, Helmsley Walled Garden, located in the heart of North Yorkshire. This five-acre garden originally built in 1759 and restored in 1994, sits beneath the dramatic ruins of Helmsley Castle. Explore this beautiful garden at your leisure. Visit the colourful glasshouses, follow the double herbaceous Hot Border running the length of the garden or simply relax and enjoy the tranquillity of the Garden of Contemplation. A must-see is the stunning Clematis Garden with over 100 different varieties. Visit the Vine House Café where you can sit beneath the Victorian vine and enjoy a lunch prepared using fruit and vegetables from the garden.
Extend your stay and take time to explore the breathtaking North York Moors National Park. Here you’ll find stunning moorland, ancient abbeys, priories and castles alongside picture-perfect villages.
Orchid Festival, Burton Agnes Hall: early March. A celebration of the beauty and diversity of orchids with magnificent displays and expert advice.
Harrogate Spring Flower Show: end April. Visit this four-day spring show full of inspiration, including designer show gardens.
Flower Festival, Castle Howard: end June. A four-day festival held at the house in Castle Howard. This festival is a flower lover’s delight.
The Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate: mid July. This three-day agricultural event has been running for over 150 years. There’s something for everyone here, from horse trials to best in show fruit and vegetables like you’ve never seen before.
|Recommended transport||Mostly by car with optional river boat cruise in York and some walking|
|Top travel distance||91 miles/147 km plus additional tour of North York Moors National Park|
|Approximate travel time||2 h 10 min|
|Nearest airport||Leeds Bradford International leedsbradfordairport.co.uk |
Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield robinhoodairport.com
|Nearest main rail station||York nationalrail.co.uk|
|Visitor information||Real-time local information realtimetravelguide.co.uk |
York and Helmsley Tourist Information Centres yorkshire.com visityork.org
Travel to Northumberland and continue your gardens trail with the Grand gardens and castles itinerary
VisitEngland would like to invite you to take part in a short survey about our website.
It should take no more than a couple of minutes.