The Howardian Hills, Yorkshire

The Howardian Hills, Yorkshire

Nestled between the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York, the Howardian Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a simply stunning region and offers some of the best things to do in Yorkshire

Offering a glimpse into a more peaceful way of life, the area is a glorious patchwork of woodland, arable and pasture fields, dotted with an unusually high number of exquisite country houses, including Castle Howard, after which this area was named.

Covering an area of just 79 square miles, this is a superb spot to visit if you’re in need of a good dose of natural therapy. In spring, lose yourself along woodland paths edged with swathes of bluebells, in summer watch dragonflies flit gracefully over the River Derwent. In Autumn, fall blissfully in love with the glorious shades of red, yellow, and orange of the tree-bedecked hills, whilst in winter cosy up by the fire of an ancient inn, with a glass of something special in hand. Whatever time of year you visit, it will be enriching for the soul and the perfect way to spend your holiday in Yorkshire.

For such a small area, there’s a surprising number of places to visit, including an array of stately homes; top of the list must be Castle Howard, a majestic edifice dating back to the 1699 that’s also featured in period dramas Brideshead Revisited and Bridgerton. Other places of note include Nunnington Hall, a National Trust-ran manor house set on the banks of the River Rye and famed for its organic walled gardens, well-cared for grounds and exhibitions. 

Newbury Priory, founded in 1145, was once an Augustinian Priory but today is transformed into a family home which can be explored as well as the extensive gardens with breath taking views towards the White Horse of Kilburn. Hovingham Hall is completely different; built in the Palladian style it dates from the 18th century and boasts magnificent architecture as well as being a thriving estate.

Other places of note include Ampleforth Abbey that has a fascinating visitor centre and offers cider mill tours, Howsham Mill that offers an insight into renewable energy and the idyllic ruins of Kirkham Priory. There are lots of gardens to explore too, such as Helmsley Walled Garden which was established in 1759 and lies beneath the ruins of Helmsley Castle, whilst The Yorkshire Arboretum at over 120 acres and filled with more than 6,000 trees from around the world, is a peaceful spot for a walk.

Of course, we mustn’t forget the pretty market towns and villages which dot and line the rolling hills. Imagine picturesque stone houses huddled together, cobbled streets and bustling market squares, lined with independent grocery shops, bakeries, tea rooms, ancient inns and intriguing looking eateries – what could be a better way to while away an afternoon? Malton and Pickering are our firm favourites, with Pickering also being home to the North York Moors Railway, made famous by the Harry Potter films.

Whatever your proclivity, whether it’s getting lost in the wilderness, stepping back in time or simply immersing yourself in shops and eateries, there’s plenty in the Howardian Hills to whet the whistle, and it’s oh-so-beautiful to boot!

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Yorkshire here


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