A Mausoleum and Many Monuments
Yesterday we returned to Castle Howard parkrun for the second time. This is one of the toughest courses I know, with the last kilometre or so uphill. Yesterday it was also into a biting wind. The course designers have done a really good job in showing off all that Castle Howard has to show, with a route round the house and gardens, down to the lake and through Hagg Wood. Despite the wind and rain that has been continuous this February, the daffodills were braving it and their smiles certainly gives us hope for better weather.
On the tourist route
To Brits of a certain age Castle Howard is best known as the setting for Brideshead Revisited back in the 1980s. For the Chinese it was where Jay Chou, Asia's King of Pop, got married in 2015. Either way it has become a magnet for visitors across the globe - and rightly so. It is stunning both inside and out and well worth a visit at any time of the year.
But if you live more locally or only have a short amount of time you can get a feel for this beautiful estate by either doing the parkrun or taking in one of the many walking routes in the area.
Walking Routes at Castle Howard
As a child a regular summer evening trip was to walk around part of the Lake, I honed some of my birdwatching skills there. A look at the OS map shows a plethora of walking routes at Castle Howard Estate, some of which are better than others.
One of our go-to walks is from Welburn, taking in a lovely route through the woods and stunning views of Castle Howard. Park in Welburn main street and turn down Water Lane, a side road just north of the Crown and Cushion Pub. Follow this path straight on as it becomes a farm track. When you get to a crossroads of footpaths keep straight on across a field, go through the gate and drop down into the wood, over a bridge and then up a steep hill at the other side.
At the top of the hill there is another crossroads of footpaths. For a short evening or winter walk you can turn right here. To take in the views across Castle Howard, however, you need to continue straight on - look out for hares in the fields. You will meet a single track road, where you need to turn left and then right over the ornamental New River Bridge. Stop at the bridge and look to your left to see a stunning view of Castle Howard house and look out for mallards, coots, moorhens and swans on the south lake and cascades in front of you.
Temple of the Four Winds
Go through the gate at the end of the bridge and bear left up the grassy hill towards the estate wall and theTemple of Four Winds. You will need to keep your dog on a lead in this field as there is often livestock in this field. At the top of the hill take a deserved breather and look back towards the mausoleum.
Follow the estate wall downhill and to a gate at the bottom of the field. Leave the field and join the farm track keeping round to your right. Remain on this track through some ruined farmbuildings at Bog Hall, look out for nesting swallows in summer. Ignore the turn off towards Easthorpe and keep on the obvious farm track to the right. This is a edged by a lovely hedge that is full of fruits in the autumn.
This track gives you some more excellent views of the mausoleum before you get to the farm Low Gaterley, where you may see some of the free-range pigs out foraging. Go up through the woods and keep right at the top of the hill. This will bring you back to point the crossroads to the woods where you should turn left and retrace the route back to the well named Pretty Woods. Rather than returning straight back to Welburn, turn left at the top of the bank to take in this lovely wood: it has bluebells in spring and we have seen a large variety of wildlife over the years, including buzzards, tawny owl, wren, long-tailed tits and shrews.
Keep along this path at the top of the bank until just before the monument. This is pleasant place to stop for a drink and snack. Drop down the bank and look out for woodland flowers like primroses, violets, celandines, wood anemones and wild strawberries in spring. Keep straight on at the bottom of the dip, ignoring the bridleway to your right and go back up the hill along the edge of a field. At the top of the hill there is a sign to Welburn diagonally down a grassy area. You need to follow this down and along the hedgeside until you take a path diagonally across a field. Leave the field at a small gate in the hedge which takes you onto the Welburn Road. Turn right and follow the road back to the village.
Welburn has a very good pub, the Crown and Cushion, which welcomes walkers and dogs in the back.