A couple of years ago we bought annual tickets to Castle Howard (aka Brideshead).

The annual tickets cost about £60 each and offered unlimited access to the gardens and several free admissions to the House as well.

At the time a day ticket cost about £10 so we knew we would have to visit at least half a dozen times to make the layout on the annual tickets worthwhile.

The grounds at Castle Howard are really lovely.

There is so much to see and a great deal of variety as the Summer turns into Autumn. The rhododendrons are spectacular and the walled garden is a delight. Anyone who has watched the 1981 Brideshead Revisited TV adaptation will probably never forget Charles and Julia angsting at the fountain; or Sebastian and Charles learning how to enjoy red wine in the Temple of the Four Winds. These and many other examples of follies and statuary are in the grounds to enjoy along with the backdrop of the fabulous Vanburgh architecture.

We visited Castle Howard seven times during the course of the season

and enjoyed the experience each time. Castle Howard is about twenty five miles from where we live so it was a bit of a trek. There are some alternative routes to get there so we tried to build variety into the journey as well.

We became so hooked on Castle Howard that the following year we bought annual tickets again and didn’t find any difficulty in getting value for the cash. It was lovely to know what the highlights of the garden were and ensure that we didn’t miss any. In addition we were able to visit the nearby Arboretum several times as that was included in the price as well.

We didn’t bother with the House too much; just one tour round each year. Although one year we paid extra to go round the House at Christmas and enjoyed the decorations and atmosphere.

After two years we decided not to re-new the annual tickets.

We easily managed value for money the second year but didn’t think we would make so many visits for a further year. However several years have elapsed since we last visited Castle Howard and we’ll probably go again this summer. Interestingly the annual tickets are now slightly cheaper than they were when we had them. There is now a Gold and a Silver ticket: gold tickets get more social events it seems. There are full details on the Castle Howard website if you’re interested.

This year we’ve already renewed our Gold Tickets for Sledmere House and Gardens.

The annual ticket offers unlimited access to both the House and the grounds. It costs £15.50 (with a reduction for oldies) and it’s worth every penny.

There’s a lovely walk at Sledmere around the perimeter of the grounds. You park opposite the village school and look for the notice telling you about the walk. The path runs alongside the deer park which usually has a large herd grazing in the parkland. There are some stunning views of Sledmere House and the beautiful Wolds landscape in which it’s situated.

Eventually the path reaches some high stiles: well above head height and not for the faint-hearted. If you get over this obstacle you’re walking right across the deer park in front of the House. There’s another stile on the opposite side of the park and then a short walk back to where you’ve left the car. Or, you can walk the route in reverse, starting with the stiles. The walk is identified as a “permissive walk” by the Sledmere Estate. This means that you don’t have any rights to the walk but the owners of the property have made it available to the public. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area. There is no charge for the walk and afterwards you can get a good Yorkshire lunch at The Triton Inn or at the cafe next to the Farm Shop.

There are several memorials in Sledmere village of which The Waggoners’ Memorial is the most famous.

It was commissioned in 1919 by Sir Mark Sykes, the son of the owner of Sledmere Estate. It’s a rather bizarre monument as can be seen on the York Stories website. On the edge of the village is a replica Eleanor cross which Historic England explains was built originally as a village cross but adapted later as a war memorial.

Further away from Sledmere, on the road to Garton-on-the-Wolds is an amazing memorial to Sir Tatton Sykes built in 1865. The Grade II listed memorial tower is described in detail on the British Listed Buildings website and can be seen for miles around.

Back to the golden tickets!

I mentioned some lovely Yorkshire gardens the other day.

They all offer annual tickets of one form or another. None of them are such good value as Sledmere Gardens but they could be worth buying if you live near enough to go there regularly. Well worth checking out.

Burton Agnes Hall: Annual membership

Scampston: Annual membership

Sewerby Hall: Annual membership

Newby Hall: Season ticket 

Helmsley Walled Garden: Annual Membership

Another of our favourite places is Rievaulx Terrace.

This wonderful National Trust property in the North Yorkshire Moors is well worth a visit for the spectacular views of the ruined Rievaulx Abbey and the landscape around.

Rievaulx Abbey

When we  visited Rievaulx Terrace in the Spring we were thrilled with the profusion of wild flowers growing in the woods adjacent to the Terrace. A complete delight!

wild flowers

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