Go Visit: Castle Howard

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Often in the desire for a perfect trip away, we neglect to consider peaceful pastimes, and instead are content to whirl through activities like an autumn gale, not taking time to breathe, to stop. On the way home from a recent (and hectic) trip to Leeds and York, we visited Castle Howard. I have been many times before, but only with the purpose of visiting the grand building; the grounds took second place as a mere after-thought. How wrong I was to relegate them to this position; visiting in the spring is a delight. The woodland walks were full of fresh green shoots protruding through the crisp piles of fallen leaves, and subtle scents of spring flowers wafted as we made our way through the boughs. The fallen heads of snowdrops danced in the breeze at every turn, and crocuses painted the hillsides with purple and ochre. Best of all, there was hardly anyone else there.

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We arrived as it opened at 10am, and spent a morning getting lost in the woodland. Lunch was spent at the café – we indulged in locally produced pies and homemade chips, and it was worth every calorie and penny spent. By this point families and couples littered the main pathways, but there was always a hidden corner to escape the real world. Energised and renewed, we also made a visit to the garden centre, and purchased our fourth rose bush for the garden – at half price, it was impossible to resist. Better still, we called in at the farm shop and spent an inordinate amount of time coveting the tasty produce. We left with a select few finds and contended, peaceful minds.
The grounds at Castle Howard are open year round, with entry during the low season (23 December – 21 March) costing £6 for adults, £3 for children, and under 5s get in free. Visit http://www.castlehoward.co.uk/ for more information.
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P.S. Enjoy your pancakes – I know I will!
Eleanor Cheetham