RHS Harlow Carr and Ripley Castle

As the weather is beginning to warm up, I find myself staring out the window on a weekend morning and getting restless to go out and enjoy it, so here are two of our recent discoveries- Harlow Carr RHS Garden and Ripley Castle. Yes, they make us sound like little old people already, but they are lovely places to have a walk around in the sunshine, are relatively cheap and have the added benefit of good food involved.

Harlow Carr is just outside Harrogate, so a 10 minute drive for us. It is a little expensive to get in, but RHS membership is not bad for the year and covers two people, so you break even at about 2 or 3 visits. It is just a nice place for a walk, lots of different areas and they also have a chicken pen which makes the boyfriend just want to get some! Although not huge, you can easily spend a hour or so looking around, and they often have art exhibits on, and last weekend had a bee-keeping display which was nice to see- especially the little kids doing the honey dance outside.

Personally I’m not overly keen on walking around gardens but for a change of scenery and to keep the boyfriend happy it is nice. The best bit however, is the on site Bettys which is amazing. Always busy, but much shorter queues than the one in town there is a choice between the café for tea and cake or the main restaurant. We opted for cream scone and tea and left me feeling very spoilt. There is also an ice cream kiosk within the gardens which is just perfect on a summer day.

Ripley Castle is another little gem about 20 minutes from us, but unfortunately isn’t English Heritage. However, it turned out that the boyfriend gets in with over 60% discount with RHS membership so again turned out reasonably priced between us. With a bit of history and a lot of parkland, it kept us both happy for the afternoon.

To enter the ‘castle’ (really a fortified manor house) you have to get the guided tour as the family still live in it, which was surprisingly good. We had a brilliant tour guide who clearly knew and loved the place, and had a proper Yorkshire, granddad sense of humour. It took about 75 minutes but didn’t feel like it as it was so interesting. There is a shorter kids tour too if you don’t want quite so much information. We then headed down along the lakeside walk and up to the deer park, although we couldn’t see any deer unfortunately.

On leaving the castle, just opposite on the main street is a fab ice cream shop, which is apparently world famous. I’m not sure I agree with world famous as despite all of the posters advertising the amazing flavours on offer, when we got to the front there was only coconut or vanilla. However, there is the option to get it dunked into melted chocolate which freezes around the ice cream which looked pretty good. We just opted for vanilla and a flake, and although a little expensive, was really creamy and thick and a perfect end to our afternoon out.


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