As I mentioned in my last post, instead of travelling to far-away places I’ll be keeping things local and will be exploring much closer to home. For the time being at least. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be a few trips with flights above six hours coming up but it’s definitely time to check out what’s on my doorstep. Far too often we forget and certainly take for granted what we already have. So, taking this into account, I recently drove just 15 minutes from my new front door (yes, I’ve just bought a house!) to visit Raby Castle in County Durham.
If you’re not familiar with the area, County Durham is in the North East of England. Whilst Northumberland probably steals the headline with it’s huge number of castles, County Durham has some fine offerings too. Raby Castle was built in the 14th century by the Nevill’s; one of the most powerful families in the North of England. The others being the Percy Family who own Alnwick Castle. Cecil Nevill who lived at Raby Castle was the mother of no less than two Kings of England. The current owners, the Vane Family, purchased Raby Castle from the Crown in the 1600’s! Talk about keeping it in the family.
Given this history, and the fact that it looked absolutely pristine from the behind the wheel as I passed on many drives over the North Pennines, it was one place that’s been high on my list to visit for a while now. Disappointingly, the weather did not play ball and it rained all day. We weren’t able to completely enjoy the sprawling grounds with it’s large herd of red deer and walled gardens. However, we bought an annual ticket meaning that we can return on those hot summer days for a walk around the lakes. Maybe even a picnic and maybe even an ice-cold beer.
You’ll see from the photos that this is a beautiful castle in absolute pristine condition. Once you get inside on a trail through Raby Castle, you won’t believe your eyes. Every room that we passed through, had some bigger, better and more intricate than the last. The detailed gold-leaf ceiling in the Octagon Room was one of my highlights as well as the Entrance Hall and the Baron’s Hall. I can’t even imagine living in a place like this! For a couple of hours at least you can wander this majestic castle with very informative staff placed at convenient locations ready to tell you everything you could possibly need to know about the castle.
After a walk through the castle, there was just one thing left to do. Grab a few photos of the famous red deer. They’re pretty easy to spot though you’re not going to get too close. I tried to get as close as I could before the entire herd turned their back on me and toddled off.
I loved visiting Raby Castle and I’m glad they offer an annual pass. For the photographer in me it means I can visit in different seasons with different light to capture all sorts of scenes! If you’re interested, these pictures were captured using my JPEG settings; Classic Chrome and Acros.
Raby Castle is 18 miles south-east of Durham just off the A688.
£22 for an annual ticket. £12 for a castle, park and gardens ticket. Just £7 for a park and gardens ticket.
The castle opens at 11am and closes 4:30pm. It’s open on weekends in March, Wednesday to Sunday in April, May, June and September. In July and August, the castle is open Tuesday to Sunday.