With rolling hills, a stunning coastline, beautiful country homes, imposing castles, beautiful market towns and picturesque little villages, North Yorkshire is a wonderful place to live, work and visit.
Covering an area of nearly five and a half thousand square miles, North Yorkshire is the largest county in England, and in my opinion one of the most photogenic. I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in the County all my life, and its fair to say I’m pretty lucky. For amateur photographers and heritage buffs such as myself, North Yorkshire is an absolute paradise.
With all the doom and gloom hitting the headlines at the minute, I wanted to share with you some of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire that I love to visit and photograph. If you’re limited to the confines of your home and struggling to get out, I hope this article brings you a little comfort. Here are 27 photographs that will make you love North Yorkshire, and help make lockdown a bit more bearable.
Castle Howard and the Howardian Hills
An area of outstanding natural beauty
There are honestly very few places as beautiful as the Howardian Hills. Situated in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, this area of outstanding natural beauty is home to the world famous Castle Howard. The house is absolutely incredible, but the surrounding estate is equally as beautiful.
Castle Howard is one of the most magnificent country houses anywhere in the world, and is real site to behold. Incorporating both baroque and Palladian styles, this Georgian period mansion is an architectural photographers dream. The house can be viewed from so many perspectives, but the view from the lakeside footpath is particularly beautiful.
I often pass Castle Howard on the way to work in the early hours. There is no better time, or place, to take a few moments, and enjoy the sunrise whilst contemplating life.
Watching the sun rise over the family mausoleum is absolutely magical
I have begun to incorporate this ritual into my morning commute and it always puts me in a good mood for the day. Watching the sun rise over the family mausoleum is completely magical.
You will want to explore the house and grounds when they eventually reopen, but there are plenty of places you can view the house for free. The road for example runs right past the West side of the house, and there are plenty of places to stop and take photographs.
For more on Castle Howard check out their website. I really enjoyed my family visit last summer. Castle Howard also put on one of the best Christmas experiences in the country.
The ruins of Sheriff Hutton Castle
Picture perfect ruins of a forgotten Royal Castle
The imposing corner towers remind me of skeletal fingers emerging from a grave
I’ve been fascinated with Sheriff Hutton Castle for as long as I can remember. I have always lived within about 10 miles distance from it, and have been utterly captivated by these underrated and picturesque ruins. The imposing corner towers remind me of skeletal fingers emerging from a grave.
Whilst the castle is not ordinarily accessible to the pubic, there is a lovely short public path with circumnavigates the site. From here you can get some lovely views of the castle, and if you visit at the right time, the ancient ruins glow a beautiful orange in the golden hour light. I’ve spent a few morning here recently, trying to capture the castle in different light conditions. The purple tone to the early morning sky is particularly heart warming.
This place really gets my imagination going. Back in the castle’s heyday the structure would have been pretty huge. Once owned by the turncoat Richard ‘Kingmaker’ Earl of Warwick, and later King Richard III, Sheriff Hutton Castle served as the the council of the North and was a very well respected fortress.
It’s thought that Bolton Castle is almost identical to Sheriff Hutton, but I think the ruins of Sheriff Hutton are far more romantic and make for a better backdrop to a photograph. My hope is that if I keep blogging about Sheriff Hutton Castle, the owners will eventually invite me for a private tour just to shut me up! (my email is at the bottom of the page!).
Sheriff Hutton Castle does have a website. You can find this here.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
A UNESCO World Heritage Site crafted by the Gods
It’s difficult to put into words just how beautiful this incredible historic site is. Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is not just one of the most significant heritage sits in England, but the world.
I was so lucky to have been able to visit just days before the country went into lockdown. This is absolutely one of my favorite places to visit, and makes me feel so passionate about our beautiful country and incredible heritage. Being able to spend time exploring places such as this is a real honour.
Being able to spend time exploring places such as this is a real honour
The incredible landscaped parkland we see today was the vision of John Aislaby, who inherited the Studley Royal Estate in 1693. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer clearly had a massive vision for his new estate, and following a political scandal in 1720, concentrated all his efforts on landscaping these spectacular grounds.
Work continued under Aislaby’s son William, who in 1767 purchased the stunning ruins of Fountains Abbey. He is also attributed with completing the Water Garden, which is so beautiful it is recognized as one of the finest landscaped gardens of its type in the world. Just writing about this place gives me a feeling of warmth inside.
The Studley Royal estate is truly one of the most wonderful places to visit, and there are so many things to see. This colossal estate incorporates not just the Water Garden and the Abbey ruins, but also a magnificent Seventeenth century stately home, a deer park and a magnificent Victorian Gothic Church.
For me though, it is the picturesque ruins of Fountains Abbey that I love to photograph most. These substantial ruins belong to what was once England’s largest Cistercian monastery. Its a beautiful setting for a picnic, or for just enjoying some quiet time.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is run by the National Trust, but English Heritage members also get free access.
Rievlaux Abbey and the Duncombe Estate
Yorkshire’s most romantic estate
I absolutely love Abbey ruins, and in North Yorkshire we have them in abundance. Fountains Abbey is a favorite as I’ve mentioned, but the ruins of Rievaulx are just as impressive. This is actually a regular haunt of mine as I live just up the road.
The majestic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey serve as very tranquil place, and are perfect for relaxing and finding some peace. This is very much one of those places that can wipe away your worries and help put things into perspective. Although the site is not massive, the ruins are substantial and offer photographers an endless number of photographic opportunities. Capturing the sun shining through one of the Abbey’s many arches is just delightful.
The site dates back to 1132, and was the first Cistercian Abbey in the North of England. It also became one of the most important religious sites in the country. Like most other monastic buildings however, Rievlaux Abbey also suffered at the hands of King Henry VIII during the English Reformation.
The ruins the King left in his wake are exceptionally beautiful, and have served as a romantic backdrop to many artistic works over the years
The ruins the King left in his wake are exceptionally beautiful, and have served as a romantic backdrop to many artistic works over the years. Set within a stunning rolling landscape, its clear to see why the original monks chose to settle here.
Rievlaux Abbey is situated just a stones throw away from the lovely market town of Helmsley, and much of the area previously formed part of the Duncombe Estate. At the heart of the estate sits the family seat of Duncombe Place.
Thomas Duncombe III actually built a stunning Terrace garden after he inherited the estate in 1758. Complete with two temples, the terrace overlooks the ruined abbey below, and the views are absolutely spectacular.
Whilst Rievlaux Abbey is in the care of English Heritage, Riexlaux Terrace is a National Trust property. Duncombe Place house is sadly not open to the public, but the gardens are open throughout the summer. Historic Houses Members get free entry.
Ill be writing an article on Helmsley in the near future so stay tuned!
What are your favorite places?
So, there you go – 27 photographs of North Yorkshire I think will make you fall in love with it. I’m obviously biased, but I don’t mind. This is my home county and I’m absolutely passionate about it. North Yorkshire is utterly beautiful, and serves as one of the most photogenic regions in the country.
Thanks for stopping by, and stay safe!
Any thoughts, tips or questions?