From our 12th century castle and Britain’s first funicular railway, to spectacular stately homes and Mesolithic archaeological sites, Scarborough has a rich and diverse history. It’s the perfect place to step back in time for a day.
The castle headland has been a military site since the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age, with archaeological finds dating back around 3,000 years. The present stone castle dates from 1150s, and has been a ruin since the sieges of the English Civil War.
These days, you can climb the battlements and enjoy an interactive exhibition while taking in the amazing views of both the North and South Bays. Just below the castle is St Mary’s Church, which dates back to the 12th century, but was largely rebuilt in the late 17th century. The church is something of a pilgrimage for literary fans, as it is the resting place of Anne Bronte.
Home to the Howard family for over 300 years, this famous setting of Brideshead Revisited is officially one of the world’s top 10 greatest mansions. Aside from the spectacular house and gardens, it’s also a great place for kids – with woodland trails, a fun train to the adventure playground and, in the summer months, boat trips on the Great Lake.
Castle Howard also features a farm shop & deli, garden centre, and the Courtyard Café & Coffee Shop. The Crown & Cushion in the village of Welburn, one mile from Castle Howard, serves high-quality food and drinks in lovely surroundings.
Sledmere is a Grade 1 listed Georgian country house in the Yorkshire Wolds, between Driffield and Malton. It features a good children’s play area, stables, acres of beautiful gardens and grounds, an art gallery and a farm shop. While the house itself is stunning, you should save a visit for a nice day, as many of the attractions – such as the deer, woodlands and adventure playground – are outdoors.
The Triton Inn in Sledmere village serves lovely food and real ales – and is very well-regarded among locals; many people travel from Scarborough to eat there.
This Elizabethan manor house in Burton Agnes has been described by Simon Jenkins in ‘England’s Thousand Best Homes’ as ‘one of England’s twenty finest houses, alongside Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Chatworth House’. It’s about 15 miles from The Steeple and Belfry, through the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds countryside. We recommend taking a detour to the Flamborough Head Heritage Coast on the way – and walking along the spectacular Bempton Cliffs.
The Old Mill in nearby Langtoft has a great restaurant serving a traditional British menu.
If you’re heading out to York on the A64, you’ll pass Scampston Hall near Rillington – one of the finest regency country houses in North Yorkshire. Guided tours around the house can be arranged, but it is the award-winning gardens – open to the public from Easter to October – that are the main attraction. The new Garden Restaurant serves drinks, snacks and light lunches with wonderful views over the gardens.
York is the best-preserved medieval city in the UK, holding over 1900 years of history inside its ancient walls. Aside from its famous Minster, there’s the Jorvik Viking Centre, York Dungeon, York Castle, Barley Hall, Guildhall and Merchant Adventurers’ Hall to explore. Plus the many cobbled streets and snickelways, including the world-famous Shambles. York is also home to the National Railway Museum, which houses almost 300 rail vehicles – and entry is free.
This Benedictine abbey on the East Cliff above Whitby, on a site that dates back to 657AD, is probably best known for helping to inspire Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The creature came ashore there and climbed the 199 steps leading up to the ruins. If you like Abbeys, we would definitely recommend a visit to both Fountains Abbey near Ripon and Rievaulx Abbey in Helmsley. Both are quite spectacular.