In 2013, Yorkshire beat Berlin, Madrid and London to win Europe’s Best Travel Destination in the World Travel Awards, the first time the award went to a non-city. A county in northern England, it’s known for its Roman and Viking heritage, Norman castles, medieval abbeys, national parks and cities that were the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. In this issue Real Yorkshire, a company that specializes in creating VIP experience offers some ideas that will take you inside this historic and beautiful region.
These experiences are pretty much year-round, however, the best time to visit is April to October, although December works well for pre-Christmas with the homes decked out beautifully and German-style Christmas markets in the cities. Shooting season is usually October through to end of January. Fishing is better in the spring/summer.
1. England’s Castle Howard in Yorkshire
Castle Howard is a 300 year old true British masterpiece nestled in the Yorkshire Countryside midpoint between Edinburgh and London in the North of England. Star designer Miles Redd put it this way for Architectural Digest, “With its exquisite exterior, there is no better example of the Baroque than Castle Howard. For me, it is all about the halls and front reception room with its soaring cupola. The fireplaces roared, adding to the splendor on a cold, damp day, and I could imagine Julia Flyte warming herself after a morning ride. We spent as much time roaming the gardens as we did the house, pausing at the famous fountain, which was stunning even without the water.”
Through Real Yorkshire you will get special and private access into the palace and grounds of Castle Howard with a luxury lunch in a private, grand dining room included. The building of this incredible British stately home started in 1699 but took over 100 years to complete, spanning the lifetime of three Earls before its completion in 1811. The mixture of Baroque and Palladian architecture makes Castle Howard a spectacularly asymmetric sight.
On arrival, the House Curator will lead you on an exclusive tour of the house, showcasing the vast display of antiques and famous artwork. Enjoy a luxurious lunch in one of the grand private dining rooms before gaining special access to the Mausoleum and the Temple of the Four Winds – two of the Palladian architectural masterpieces in the extensively landscaped gardens. A further walk around the grounds allows for a wonderful photo opportunity of the house from the Atlas Fountain. Meet the Head Gardener who can share with you his extensive knowledge of the botanical history of the gardens. At the end of the tour you will visit the Arts & Crafts decorated chapel which leaves most visitors speechless.
Castle Howard has acted as the backdrop to numerous films and TV Series including Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and the award-winning ITV drama, Victoria, the locations of which you will be able to visit throughout your tour. After a day taking in the Baroque splendor, the 1,000 acres of rolling parkland and hearing the stories of the intriguing Howard family you can relax with a proper Yorkshire dinner at The Star Inn The City. This Michelin-starred restaurant is run by head chef Andrew Pern and boasts an enviable riverside position in the historic city of York. Mixing the best of local, seasonal produce with proper Yorkshire hospitality, The Star Inn The City showcases the very best of Yorkshire fine-dining.
2. Yorkshire’s North York Moors
Travel back to 800BC in Northern England; bake bread in an Iron Age Roundhouse, walk in the footsteps of vikings, vampires and Harry Potter and visit England’s most famous abbey ruins. With a history dating back to 8000 BC, England’s largest and most diverse and historic region – Yorkshire – has an amazingly rich heritage just waiting to be explored. From the Celts to the Romans, the Vikings to the War of the Roses, Dracula to Harry Potter, Yorkshire is packed full of historical, cultural and geographic attractions.
Explore this incredible scenery with a Visit Britain accredited Yorkshire Blue Badge Guide. Storytelling comes to life as you travel through 44,000 acres of heather moorland – the largest area of such landscape in the world. Yorkshire’s North York Moors is home to unique wildlife, history and heritage. Explore Thirsk, the North Yorkshire market town once home to Alf Wight, the veterinary surgeon and writer who is most well-known for his autobiographical books about the life of a country vet, written under the pen name James Herriot.
Visit Ryedale Folk Museum where you’ll gather round the fire in the Iron Age Roundhouse to experience the sights, sounds and smells of daily life in the North York Moors thousands of years ago. Enjoy an Iron Age refreshment break as you bake bread, using traditional methods dating back thousands of years. Travel to the historic coastal town of Whitby – the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula and hear captivating tales of Vikings and Vampires. Visit the UK’s most famous Gothic Abbey ruins, discover Whitby’s whaling history and hear tales of Captain Cook, the British explorer who set sail from this very town in the 1700s.
You’ll tuck into the traditional Fish & Chips at The Magpie Café which A.A. Gill, the restaurant critic, described as “the Best fish & chips in Britain.” You’ll take the historic North York Moors Steam train to Goathland – the home of popular British TV series Heartbeat and more recently, the old railway station played Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films.
3. The Yorkshire Dales
With over 20,000 acres of woodland and valleys means The Yorkshire Dales offers some of the most extensive and exciting game shooting in the UK.
Spend the night at Yorkshire’s magnificent Swinton Park Estate (pictured above) – The ancestral home of the Earl of Swinton. The estate offers some of the best shooting in Yorkshire with grouse, pheasant and duck and the hotel boasts a well-stocked gun cabinet, boot room and game larder.
Depending on your freshwater fishing preference fish for wild brown trout, grayling and salmon in the River Ure (pictured in the lead of the report) or catch rainbow trout in a local reservoir. Fly fishing tuition can be provided – learn the local fly-fishing style with the use of traditional Yorkshire Spiders.
After a day of English great-outdoor pursuits, return to the luxury hotel for rest and relaxation in the hotel’s luxury country club and spa. Enjoy a scotch on ice in the relaxed bar before you savor dinner in the elegant fine-dining hotel restaurant – Samuel’s. The ‘Estate on the plate’ philosophy of the kitchen means plate governance is important – food miles are limited where possible and local produce and seasonal ingredients are prioritised, showcasing some of the best Yorkshire dishes around.
All the rooms combine high-end luxury with modern comforts and are furnished with antiques and family portraits, highlighting the warmth and grandeur of a traditional English Country house.
For those wanting to sample more of the local activities, there are plenty of experiences that can be added to your day: take a Brewery Tour and sample the local ales at one of Masham’s famous breweries; enjoy a luxury driver-guided tour of Wensleydale where you will have the chance to visit numerous Yorkshire castles, abbeys as well as taste some of Yorkshire’s most famous cheese in the glorious Yorkshire Dales countryside. Visit the Druid’s Temple – a Victorian folly fondly known as Yorkshire’s Stonehenge.
4. Carlton Towers
Carlton Towers in rural Northern England is the 17th century home of Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard. The stunning venue mixes the magic of Hogwarts with the grace of Downton Abbey to offer a truly enchanting place to reside and have some aristocratic fun.
Approached by a winding drive, the Victorian Gothic home displays ornate, castle-like turrets, arched windows and a striking clock tower. Inside, the three breathtaking staterooms have beautifully carved oak-paneled walls, exquisite paintings and imposing fireplaces – features that saw the house selected to play Windsor Castle in the hit TV Drama; Victoria. Real Yorkshire will create your own bespoke schedule of distinguished country pursuits at Yorkshire’s Carlton Towers and let Lord & Lady Gerald Fitzalan Howard lead the way.
Despite the regal atmosphere, Carlton Towers remains the family home of Lord and Lady Gerald, and there are cosy lounges with log-burning fires, family mementoes and relaxed sofas for those who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere. Rare antiques include two numbered chairs from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
What Carlton Towers guests find especially appealing is the exclusivity offered. You can have Carlton Towers, its staff and grounds completely to yourselves: all that is required is a minimum number of people staying overnight (10 rooms).
Accommodation is provided in 16 bedrooms, individually designed and furnished by Lady Gerald herself. Rooms range from the elegance of Lady Mirabel, the house’s only single bedroom, to the two-story Baroness Clock Tower suite. Individual touches can include four-poster beds, rare antiques and free-standing copper baths.
Carlton Towers Bon Viveur Experience is a must for lovers of wine, food and the good things in life. Tour the newly planted vineyard Clos D Beaumon’ and learn about growing vines in the northern climate. Taste the very best in English wine production and have lunch in the vineyard, weather permitting. Following your time in the vineyard, move into Cooks – The Carlton School of Food and learn to prepare some classic regional dishes. See how wines have been produced over millennia to enhance the enjoyment of the food of the region, and taste some incredible wines. In the evening, gather with your fellow guests to sample the product of your hard work in the kitchen with, of course, the wines to match. Debate the merits of the wines and food in the totally unique environment that is Carlton Tower. The following morning after a leisurely breakfast of bacon, sausage and eggs, all produced by the estate, spend the morning exploring the estate and vineyard. All the wine experiences can be tailored to suit your group’s preference, be it French, Italian, Spanish or New World.
Beer & BBQ
Learn to brew and, of course, taste real beer in Carlton Towers microbrewery – Little Black Dog After, enjoy a barbeque and taste some of the beers produced on site. You can barbeque in the vineyard or down by the lake – or why not use Carlton Tower’s log cabin in the woods as your base?
4×4 Experience Centre
The onsite 4×4 Experience Centre has a range of packages that can fulfill a variety of requirements. Come and learn the principles of driving off road, negotiating ruts and mud, mastering hill climbs and descents, and crossing ditches or rock crawling while enjoying the beautiful 250 acres of parkland that Carlton Towers has to offer.
Clay Pigeon Shooting
Relax, and enjoy this rapidly growing activity with Carlton Towers as your backdrop. Clay Shooting is a great way to entertain with some light-hearted competition!
A School Of Food With A Difference
If you love food, you’ll love Cooks – The Carlton School of Food. Courses are held in the refined surrounds of the authentic “downstairs” kitchens that feature many of the original units, all hiding a range of mod cons. Liaise with the executive chef and discuss options for courses including artisan bread making and handmade chocolates. Learn about Carlton Towers’ extensive sustainability programme: rare breed pigs, Wensleydale sheep, cattle and bees – all produce that are used in the school and served up for your breakfast.
Shoot A Day/Cook A Day
Carlton Towers has built a reputation for a fine traditional partridge shoot. Try your hand at a traditional Edwardian game shoot for partridge over high hedges, a testing exercise for even the most experienced guns. The following day the estate gamekeeper and chefs will teach you how to dress and cook marvelous game dishes in the original kitchens of this magnificent house.
Dine With Lord and Lady Howard
As the sun sets, enjoy press-dinner drinks by the fire in the library bar before you savour a magnificent candle-lit gala dinner with wine pairing hosted by Lord and Lady Gerald (based on their availability) in the Venetian Drawing Room. This magnificent wood-panelled room was a key filming location for scenes in TV Drama Victoria.
Take A Trip To York – England’s Oldest City
Option to be chauffeured by luxury transport to the nearby Viking city of York for a day-long private tour led by registered Blue Badge Guide and Yorkshire historian.