A Crumbling Preservation - Yorkshire’s Impressive Ruins

Published: Wednesday 9th Mar 2016

Written by: Tracy Guymer-Davies

The beautiful county of Yorkshire has more than it’s fair share of ruins and castles, all set in outstanding countryside and providing an amazing day out for all the family.

Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle is at the top of the high street in the market town of Skipton; built 900 years ago by Norman Baron Robert de Rouille, it is one of the best preserved medieval castles in the country. Massive twin towers stand either side of the gate house where unusually inside the East tower there is a beautiful shell grotto. The castle survived 3 years of siege during the English civil war when it was a Royalist stronghold. Today, the castle successfully gives its visitors an insight into where and how the inhabitants lived. You can explore the dungeons and watch tower and picnic in it’s inner quarters.

Scarborough Castle

Better known for its seaside fayre, candy floss and sandy beach, Scarborough’s windswept East Coast also homes the ruins of Scarborough Castle. Rrising over the North Sea where a fortification has stood for 3,000 years, it has seen Kings, battle and bloodshed within its keep; once a look out for the Romans before becoming a Royal residence for Henry II in the 12th century. It waved goodbye to its royal ties in the 1400’s with Richard III (of car park burial fame (and all the other royal stuff he did)) being the last King to stay there. It later came under siege during the Civil War and was bombarded by German warships during the First World War when 17 people were killed. Now you can enjoy a picnic in the grounds and feast on the panoramic views of Scarborough.

Ripley Castle

Ripley castle is a 14th century country house only 3 miles from Harrogate and has been lived in by 26 generations of the Ingleby family. This private home provides a full and interesting day out for all the family. Explore the castle and peek through priest holes or wander around the beautiful gardens. But the real fun (for old and young alike) is to be had in the grounds, where you can canoe on the lake, go body zorbing, try a segway or climb Jacob’s ladder and the zipwire.

Rivevalux Abbey

The truly impressive ruins of Rivevalux Abbey are found in the River Rye valley near Helmsley in the North Yorkshire moors. Founded in 1132 it is the first Cistercian outpost for white monks in pursuit of colonisation of the North. Spend a peaceful day exploring the ruins then walk in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims from the Abbey to Helmsey castle. Afterwards, treat yourselves to a slice of cake in the tearooms.

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey hugs the banks of the river Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales. Once a St Augustinian Priory, it is now the Yorkshire seat of the 12th Duke of Devonshire. Wander through the ruins, follow a nature trail or have a picnic on the beach. Cross the river using the 60 stepping stones originally used by the lay workers. Pass the money trees and enter the ancient wood, deep in the heart is the Strid where the river narrows forcing the water through with great pressure. More experienced walkers can enter the Valley of Desolation with it’s waterfalls, this is the corridor to Borden Fell and the moors, from here you can admire the view from Simon’s seat where Druids once worshipped.

Whitby Abbey

Finally but certainly not least, we recommend a visit to Whitby Abbey. Probably one of the best known abbeys in England and standing high above the former whaling town of Whitby, this atmospheric ruin helped to inspire Bram Stoker to write Dracula and strikes a haunting figure as it looks out over the North Sea.

Originally founded in 651 by St Hild, a Saxon princess, its history has seen some significant acts pass between its walls. In 664 it was the setting for the synod of Whitby, when it was agreed to change the date of Easter to the Roman calendar. Then in the 9th Century, it was abandoned during Viking raids before being rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 13th-15th Centuries, when it became a Benedictine Monastery.

Today, the Abbey basks in Dracula fame and there are regular productions of the novel being performed throughout the year. Try and pop along to one if you get a chance; set amongst the ruins of the Abbey, the performances bring the horror of the story to life.

Whatever and wherever you decide to visit,  the ruins of Yorkshire really have something for the whole family to enjoy. Perfect for your dose of holiday culture.

Tracy Guymer-Davies
Tracy Guymer-Davies


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