Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard
- 28 August 2018 -
We enjoyed some late summer sun at Castle Howard yesterday – just a gentle 25 minute drive through the Howardian Hills from our self-catering Coxwold Cottages. But, rather than turning into Castle Howard itself as we normally do, this time we turned right instead of left at the Great Obelisk and ventured into the Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard for the first time, having heard that their lake restoration was complete.
The site of the Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howward was formerly parkland around Castle Howard, with parts later used for agriculture. The original bastion wall from the Pyramid Gate forms much of the arboretum’s southern boundary and is a fascinating backdrop feature with castellated towers at regular intervals along the wall. There is also a lovely view back towards Castle Howard with the Great Obelisk providing a magnificent eye-catcher in the distance. Another view of note is the “Main Vista” with the newly restored Arboretum Lake in the distance.
Jim Russell (1920-96) designed and planted the 120-acre arboretum from 1975 until 1992, after an earlier arboretum created in the 1950s was wiped out by rabbits! Rabbits are still in evidence today though, particularly in the sandy areas… There is apparently a divide between the soil on each side of the central line of the arboretum. The southern side is mostly quite heavy clay, while the north side is sandy. The different growing conditions offered by the two soil types were exploited when the collection of trees from the late 1970s onwards.
The Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard is fortunate to have a number of mature parkland trees, especially oaks and sweet chestnuts, dating from the 1780s, giving height and stature to what is still a very young collection, albeit 6,000 in number. The trees are often labelled so I now know that it is a lovely Mountain Ash in our garden at Coxwold Cottages! There is a good circular walk of at least an hour to be enjoyed at Yorkshire Arboretum, followed by a quick trip to the café and gift shop. Open from February to November, you could happily visit the Yorkshire Arboretum when wet underfoot as there is a wide central path running through the site. We plan to visit again when the leaves turn so we can enjoy the Autumn colours. Join us at Coxwold Cottages to see for yourself! More on the magnificent Castle Howard itself to follow in a later blog…