I visited Ripley Castle years ago and really enjoyed it. For some reason I never got round to arranging a return trip, and Matt had never been, even though it is less than an hour’s drive away from us.
We finally got round to visiting last month, and realised we have been missing a treat. There is a fee to join a guided tour of the castle (tours last about an hour and are very interesting – see Visitor Information for details and opening times). But entry to the gardens and parkland is free on weekdays during the summer and every day during the winter.
And what lovely gardens and grounds they are!
We visited on a day in late autumn. There is an old walled garden, a kitchen garden known for its collection of rare vegetables, and some very interesting glass houses to explore.
Good paths lead to a lovely ornamental lake, with a bridge over a waterfall.
There are great views over the lake from the bridge.
Ancient Trees in the Deer Park
The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the walk around the spacious deer park, with its herd of fallow deer. The park is full of wonderful old trees, which were absolutely resplendent in their autumn colours.
The ancient horse chestnut tree below has a fantastically gnarled trunk.
Some of the oak trees are thought to be 1000 years old. Like the gnarled tree below with a convenient wooden seat for a picnic.
We walked round the entire park, and had sandwiches on the seat shown in the photo above, and only saw one other couple. It was such a privilege to enjoy these wonderful trees with only the sounds of nature.
We got several glimpses of the resident deer herd, including stags with impressive antlers. They are shy animals and we tried not to disturb them.
We had a lovely day, and will certainly not wait so long to visit Ripley again. In fact I am already looking forward to visiting during the spring and summer to see the flowers in the walled garden and check out the rare vegetables!
A Few Practicalities
Ripley is situated close to Harrogate and Knaresborough, on the A61 towards Ripon. It can be reached by a regular bus service which connects Leeds, Harrogate and Ripon.
There is a nice tearoom in the village. There is also the renowned Boar’s Head Inn which provides quality accommodation and excellent food.
There are a few small shops in the village, including a gallery and a nice gift shop.
For information about disabled access see Visitor Information.
If you are a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, Ripley Castle is a partner garden.
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