I’d never even heard of Raby Castle until we passed it on our way to glamping at Hill Top Huts back in September, and I saw loads of deer on the lawns in front of the castle which is viewable from the main road. I’ve wanted to go back and visit properly ever since, and we finally got round to it this weekend.
Raby Castle itself is currently closed, but the grounds around the castle, deer park and the walled gardens are all open for visiting. You have to book tickets even to visit the outside areas as they’re currently limiting numbers each day. You don’t get a timed slot, you can visit any time within the opening hours of 10am – 4pm.
It took us just under an hours drive from Newcastle, and when you get there the parking steward will direct you to a spot on the grass. There were quite a lot of cars there, but it didn’t feel like there were anywhere near that many people once we got in as it’s so big.
Walking up to the entrance they check you have a ticket for that date, and give you a map which shows you the different walking trails you can go on around Raby castle grounds. They also warned us that it’s deer rutting season so not to get too close to them, and to keep Arthur on his lead.
We set off around the castle which is really impressive, I’d love to go back in summer to be able to go inside. The scenery the entire way round is just beautiful, and there are two big ponds with swans and geese swimming about.
As we passed the castle we spotted the deer in the distance, so we walked along the windy path through the trees towards them. There are so many of them, and although you can’t get too close you can still see how impressive they are. At one point they all decided to just move together across the path to another grass patch, and I’m glad I wasn’t anywhere near as it reminded me of the stampede in the Lion King.
We watched them for a while before walking back up towards the castle, and passed the other smaller herd on the way, this time a group of reindeers which was pretty cute so close to Christmas. There were families with kids much closer to them.
We continued our walk slowly round, playing with Arthur in the leaves and enjoying not having to worry about him near a road or other people. Although you could see people about we were never anywhere near anyone as it’s so vast, so very easy to keep distance. We had beautiful winter weather as well so it was lovely to be out.
Once we had done a full lap of the park we went back to the entrance and up towards the cafe. It’s currently closed due to all the restrictions but the on site kiosk is open, serving sandwiches, cakes, crisps and snacks, coffee and hot chocolate. The toilets are open for public use as well.
We got two hot chocolates and then went into the landscaped walled gardens which were just beautiful, on a hill with views across to the castle. There were fountains, a maze, and lots of park benches for you to just sit and enjoy the view with your drink.
In total we must have spent about three hours up there, outside walking, deer spotting and sitting in the sun. There are some proper concrete paths, but most of the walk trails involve walking over the grass. It wasn’t too muddy though so you’d be fine in trainers or boots as long as it hadn’t poured.
My favourite bit of the day aside from the deer was just to be somewhere different for a walk and some fresh air. The closest we got to anyone else was the kiosk queue, but for the most part of the day it felt as though we were on our own aside from little figures in the distance. So I’d say Raby Castle is a great change of scenery for a day out and a walk this winter.
Book your Raby Castle grounds tickets here.
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