For as long as I can remember, I’d always wanted to properly visit Yorkshire. In fact, now that I think about it, I actually almost ended up studying in York (twice!).
I’ve been in Yorkshire very briefly but never actually gotten round to exploring it – not even the beautiful city of York which I went past on the train to Scotland many, many times!
All of that changed a couple of weeks ago when, finding ourselves with a few days free, we finally decided to head up to explore Yorkshire.
Funnily enough, all the travelling that we do, only serves to make me appreciate being back in England that much more.
It makes you realise how beautiful your home is (shout out to London!) and like I’ve said time and time again on here, it makes me wanna explore more of what’s on our doorstep. 🙂 (Especially so after doing a trip like this one here!)
The train from London to York is just 2 hours and despite never actually visiting the city before, we decided to skip it on this trip! We had grand plans to squeeze in as much of Yorkshire as possible over 2 days (well, technically 3 days and 2 nights) and trying to squeeze in York in that time felt a bit much – we’ll save that one for another day.
On this trip, we picked up the rental car and headed straight for Castle Howard, an amazing place I’d only heard about weeks before and one of the few privately owned castles in England (a lot of old wealthy families lost their wealth and couldn’t keep up so they ended up giving it to the National Trust which helped maintain the homes and leaves us Brits with the strong architectural heritage we still have till this day).
Castle Howard is absolutely magnificent! It’s the kind of place you struggle to step into when you first arrive because you spend so much time marvelling at it from outside…
…before getting distracted by its picturesque grounds.
If the Castle looks familiar, it’s apparently because it’s been featured in a lot of films – the most popular of which is probably Brideshead Revisited.
Funny, when you’re up in places like this, the cold, dark weather only serves to make this place look even more dramatic and definitely makes stepping for tea all the more welcome!
With that, we set off to explore the many halls and rooms of Castle Howard.
Castle Howard is as grand inside (perhaps grander?) as it is from the outside.
The rooms are all done up for the season, Christmas trees everywhere you look, presents (just begging to be taken home with you) in other rooms and grand beds that make you feel like you’ve just stepped into Downton Abbey (*Sidebar: Downton Abbey is ‘technically’ set in Yorkshire – the family is supposed to be Northern, although most of the filming was done down south.)
My favourite spot definitely has to be right in front of the gigantic Christmas tree in the grand hallway (not the official name but you can probably see why I’d refer to it as that).
For a place, I didn’t know much about before visiting, I was head over heels in love with this Castle within a few minutes of stepping in.
When you’re here, you should definitely check out the many living, drawing and dining rooms here. All decorated to still showcase what grand old English living would have been like, they’re absolutely fantastic and gorgeous. (I have to admit, my mind did wander off here as I wondered what it must be like for someone to call this place their “home”).
The highlight of the afternoon came not in the form of decadent designs, beautiful architecture or a ginormous Christmas tree but in the form of afternoon tea! Afternoon tea in a Castle no less!
We headed over to the Grecian Hall in the main house for afternoon tea. It couldn’t have been more perfect. The fireplace was roaring and instantly made you feel at home, Christmas music was playing in the background and the Christmas tree filled the room with that distinctly festive aroma.
I started off with champagne (none for Lloyd – he was on driving duty), swiftly followed by that iconic Yorkshire tea.
The food then arrived, an assortment of freshly made sandwiches, scones, cakes and other delights (*Yorkshire as a whole does food really well, by the way – everything was perfectly done).
Afternoon tea here is just the perfect way to finish off a visit to Castle Howard – just be sure to book in advance. They do try to leave some room for walk in’s but it’s pretty popular (quite a few people had to be turned away) so save yourself some disappointment and book in advance. I think you can book online here but if not, you can also contact them here.
With that, we hopped back into our car and hit the road, thoroughly refreshed, watered, fed and ready to see even more of Yorkshire!
The destination for the evening would be Ravenscar, where we would be calling home for the next few days but on the way over there, you pass by the Hole of Horcum – an impressive heather filled canyon, albeit perhaps even more so in daylight…
…before carrying on to Goathland. A quaint village particularly well-known to Harry Potter fans for its train station which served as the station for Hogsmeade.
In my opinion, the station is cute but the village is absolutely worth visiting in and of itself (perhaps even more so than the train station). It feels like you’re in old England here – it’s the kind of place where the sheep don’t even know to be wary of cars. (As you can tell, I’m a sucker for places like this!)
Eventually, we made our way to the Raven Hall Hotel where we would be staying in one of their lodges.
When we arrived, I was expecting a typical hotel room but what you get here is like a mini apartment (in fact, it’s bigger than a lot of London apartments). Suffice to say, we settled in very quickly… perhaps too quickly as we ended up being late for dinner in Whitby.
Now everyone we’ve spoken to about Whitby had nothing but good things to say about it but as we arrived at night, there wasn’t really much room to explore Whitby itself. Instead, we headed over to much-talked-about The Star Inn restaurant for dinner.
Now, I didn’t know this at the time but The Star Inn is owned and run by a Michelin Star chef (and all round Yorkshire food hero) Andrew Pern and it even has it’s own ice cream parlour next door (sea-side perfection, really).
Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of bread served before a meal (I think I ate too much bread as a child – plus I don’t wanna spoil my appetite so I’d rather wait for my proper meal to come out) but when you find out the bread is warm and the butter’s perfect, you jump right in.
(*I think my other problem is that I don’t have any moderation and would probably eat all the bread placed in front of me till I realise I’ve probably eaten a portion to be shared amongst several people).
Seeing as Yorkshire is known for its seafood (I had no idea about this, by the way, Lloyd did), we decided to go all in on the seafood starting with deliciously batter calamari for myself, Celeriac & Spiced Quince Soup for Lloyd… and ‘scraps’ (also for Lloyd).
Now ‘scraps’ is something that’s quite popular in Yorkshire, it’s effectively the leftover bits you have after the fish at the fish and chip shop has been fried but the scraps here are so much more than crispy batter.
They’re little parcels of the most delicious, flakiest fish and almost guaranteed to induce food envy no matter how good whatever else you ordered was. (I maaaaay have ended up eating almost half of Lloyd’s scraps – again, no moderation on my part 😀 ).
We have an interesting palate cleanser of beetroot ice cream, goats cheese, lightly toasted nuts and other stuff I can’t quite remember right now. I just remember being pleasantly surprised at how well the ice cream and goats cheese paired together (who’d have thought it, eh?).
For mains, I went for the local lobster while Lloyd went for fish and chips.
Seriously when you’re here, you very quickly see why the chef has his Michelin star. It’s good food through and through, and if you check the website here, the prices are very reasonable – something which never seems synonymous with Michelin-star chefs (especially back in London). Needless to say, given how amazing afternoon tea was and then how dinner was, I knew by this point we would be in for quite the treat on the food-front while in Yorkshire.
Oh, dessert – I almost forgot to say – for dessert, I went with the caramelized apple rice pudding (another brilliant choice on my part… though I probably should be giving the chef credit for how fantastic it was 😀 ).
With that, stuffed so full I could barely walk, we headed back to the Raven Hall Hotel where I promptly fell asleep almost as soon as I got in.
We’d only been in Yorkshire a few hours but I was utterly in love with Yorkshire and knew I’d made the right choice in deciding to spend a couple of days here. 🙂