Jo’s Monday walk : Raby Castle and Deer Park


I’ve passed by Raby Castle many times on my way through the Durham Dales.  The market town of Barnard Castle with its lovely riverside setting, 8 miles further west, is a favourite location of mine.  Always I’ve had my nose pressed up against the car window. How many deer can I spot?

A sultry, sunny day in June seemed like a good time for closer observation.  250 acres of parkland surround Raby Castle, and herds of Red and Fallow deer roam free.  I was desperate to park the car and run after the deer I could see, grazing beneath trees in the distance.  But, no!  Not a good idea.  For one thing, May to July each year is the period in which calves are born, and it is vital to retain a healthy distance.  Human contact can deter a mother from feeding her young, and there are warnings never to touch, even if the calf appears to have been abandoned.  A watchful eye for strays is kept by the park rangers.  So I looked for distraction, beyond a garden gate.


In my preoccupation with deer, I had entirely forgotten that Raby Castle has an 18th century walled garden.  Totaling 5 acres, it retains many of its original features.  The walls were built with locally handmade bricks, with a heating system of flues inserted.  This enabled sub-tropical fruits like apricots to be grown.  The White Ischia fig is a survivor from 1786, now in its own glass house.  In addition there are two fine old yew hedges, and an ornamental pond, originally used to provide water for the kitchen garden.





An English garden in summertime.  People wore bemused smiles.  This was how it was supposed to be.  A gentle, hazy warmth wrapped around buzzing borders, while Pan played softly on his pipe.  And pouting cherubs looked on.



Paths lead around and through, and it’s a beguiling place to linger.  Aloof violet iris nod regally at pristine white cornus, with just a smidgeon of pink tip.  A blaze of azalea cocoon a garden bench.  The castle and it’s deer park are forgotten, bar an odd tantalising glimpse.

For those of you who grumbled about misshapen scones in my Sutton Park post, now is probably a good time to pop into the tearooms. These are situated in the 18th century Coach House & Tack Room, and are themed rather nicely.  I do like a scone!

Visiting the castle was by guided tour only.  I would love to have shown you round, because it is as impressive a building as I have ever been in. Unfortunately photographs were not permitted.  Out of respect for my very charming and knowledgable, old world guide Robert, I refrained from taking any. (I have been known to cheat just a little, even in Buckingham Palace)  If you ever visit I do urge you to take the tour.

The Viking, King Canute, owned this estate in the 11th century.  Raby derives from the Danish, ‘ra’ being a boundary and ‘bi’ a settlement.  Since then the Nevill family, one of the most powerful families in the north of England, has been responsible for building and adding to the castle.  For almost 400 years the Nevills held sway, but involvment in the ‘Rising of the North’ in support of Mary Queen of Scots was to be their undoing. Charles Nevill, 6th and last Earl, fled to Holland where he died in poverty in 1601.

If the history interests you, much more can be found on the castle website.   There’s still a little walking to be done.  According to the leaflet, a stroll from the castle around High and Low Ponds takes about an hour.  I would suggest much less, unless you take a picnic.



Have you seen any deer yet?  Look over there in the distance.  We’ll approach very carefully.  No sudden movements.




Oh, oh!  They’ve seen us!  Time to go, I think.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  I know I have.  Full details of how to get there and opening times are on the website.  If you’re ever in the north east I can highly recommend it.  Time for a cuppa?

walking logo

Thank you everybody for keeping me company, and for the support.  Yet again I have some superb walks to share with you.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.  Let’s get reading!


This post was a particular delight to me as I could picture myself there, a few years ago.  Thanks, Laia!  And Gilly- you’ll love it!

Barcelona from a local- pirates, cacti and a magic fountain

But my view from the Giralda tower was much damper than Debbie’s :

She Who Turns

Complete contrast, and a special anniversary present for Lady Lee :

A Walk from Kranzbach to Elmau to Fernchensee Lake

Phoebe shares a secret in the South of France :

Secret paradise : a refreshing river walk

I love an Open Garden, be it in England or Scotland.  Thanks, Anabel!

Muckhart Village Gardens

And Smidge’s post is everything you could want for in lovely Scottish views :

Grey Mare’s Tail and Loch Skeen

Or there’s always a spin on the common with Geoff and Dog :

Greenwich and Blackheath, contrasting space

You could even cheat with Jackie and ride on the bus!

Heritage Toronto 501 Tour

If you don’t mind a few midges you could go camping with Liesbet :

A Weekend of Camping and Hiking in Vermont

Or why not follow Drake to somewhere that looks really idyllic?

Everyday, every day

Fancy a stroll through a City of the Dead?  Not for everybody, perhaps, but Jaspa definitely enjoyed it :

Cementerio de la Recoleta, Buenos Aires

A rather more traditional walking tour with Nicole, this one is exactly my cup of tea :

A Walking Tour of Prague : Old Town Square

That’s it for another week.  Again, my thanks to all, and I hope you have a great week ahead.  See you soon!


  1. What a wondrous walk, Jo. I love those bulbous topiaries edging the gardens. And no wonder you were on the lookout for the deer. There are so many of them! What a gorgeous castle too. I laughed when you told how you cheated sometimes when told not to take photos. I do it too, but only when I’m sure I can get away with it! I would love this walk, and the scone to top it off. 🙂

    1. I did say I’d seen some wonderful gardens this year, Cathy! This one was a shining star, and the castle was superb too. 🙂 Jude has some stories to tell about cathedrals. Seems she was torn off a strip in Lincoln for looking under the seats for misericords 😦 I could see steam coming out of the email!

      1. Haha, I’m not even sure I know what you mean by this sentence: Seems she was torn off a strip in Lincoln for looking under the seats for misericords. Huh? Again the British-American divide. I looked up misericords, but I still don’t know what you mean by the first part of the sentence!! “torn off a strip in Lincoln”?? Have fun today! I’m sure you’re already there and having a grand time. 🙂

      2. Just arrived home, Cathy 🙂 Yes, it was fab! It means ‘told off’- Jude said he made her feel about 5 for lifting the cathedral seats up to look for misericords. Translating service free of charge 🙂

  2. I would have liked to have seen some photos inside the castle, but I understand your respect for guide. I guess they can get in trouble if the photos appear on the internet. It’s a beautiful looking castle from the outside. And that weird shaped hedge is fantastic!!!

    1. Spoilt for choice this last week or so, Carol. You may have a hard time deciding which! 🙂 Many thanks, hon. Just putting 6WS up and I’ll be right there.

  3. First in the walks list, thanks a lot!
    And wow, the gardens of the castle are huge! They look nice, so green with flowers. It’s a pity that you couldn’t take photos inside the castle… so I guess if we want to see it, we’ll have to go 😉

      1. Nice! Can you believe that I’ve never been to Portugal yet?
        I’m going to Switzerland tomorrow and I’ll be back to Barcelona in September 🙂
        Have a nice trip!

  4. One can always trust you to incorporate a yummy looking dessert into an exciting and breathtaking walk. Lovely, Jo! That second shot is so you.

      1. I’m sure a doorway challenge is about to pop up with so many events taking place here, if not you can start a new one 😀 I know I would.

  5. Stunning post and photos of this lovely walk Jo! You always take me where I want to go. I just love Castles. They always have such an air of mystery about them and that garden is so magical with the beautiful hedges, flowers and those Deer are adorable! Love the white one. 😀

    Thanks for sharing sweetheart. That scone was just delicious! 😀 ♥

      1. Thanks sweetness and of course yes. I must share with Russel and Rambo now, remember? 😆

        ♥ Hugs ♥ sweetie.

      1. Still feel as though I fell down a rabbit hole after last week’s political events! Apart from that (and the weather!!) we are well – how are you both?

  6. Another totally stunning walk Jo I love those humpy, bumpy hedges, they would be so difficult to trim, pleased I don’t have to do them. The deer are fascinating and so much history in these photos. I appreciate you sharing it all with us. I have been away for a few days and the blog world just keeps rolling on I now have lots of catching up to do. Good to be back in time for this walk.

  7. I wish I had gardens like that, Jo (until I had to do the gardening) 😉 It’s unfortunate that photographs weren’t permitted in the castle. I guess one day I’ll just have to go there and have a look for myself instead of travelling vicariously through you (which I love doing!) 😀

  8. Joanne we have a lot of deer in Canada but holy moly look at all of them gathered together like that! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the likes of it.
    Can you tell me about the trimmed hedge in the gardens. It almost looks as though it is made to form the shapes of faces. Am I hallucinating? What a marvelous and perfectly manicured place to explore.

    1. Safety in numbers, Sue 🙂 Deer v. tourists. 🙂 I thought those hedges had an Alice in Wonderland feel to them but I didn’t see anything on the website to indicate what the shapes represent. Sorry- I can only offer cake 😦

  9. A particularly beautiful walk with you today! I find the bulbous hedges a bit odder than others seem to, I think … maybe even a tad frightening! 🙂

  10. So much for the leisure of the deer park. It’s now a good 18 hours later and I’m snatching at it before I head off to vote. I love the calm of this post and its variety: castle, those lumpy hedges, the superb flower shots, the picnickers, the arch, the lily pond, and then the proliferation of deer. Beautiful! However, your pouting cherub is not a patch on Maja when she wants cream cake. Warm hugs again, since the weather here is cooler.

    1. I feel seriously ignorant now, Meg. Vote? Who/what for? I’m stranded in the mire of English politics and have no idea what’s happening in the rest of the world. 😦 I knew you’d like my picnickers. It was like a scene from Enid Blyton. 🙂 No contest! Let the girl eat cake 🙂 🙂 I love your comments. Swift hug before I head for the garden. We may have another half day of sun before normal service is resumed. 🙂

      1. Please don’t let normal service interfere with life!!! I’ll be easing off too: summer holidays begin on Friday, and R&M are both working. You can guess the implications of that!

        Voting is in our federal election, about which why should you know anything? A friend summed it up nicely (or, rather, horribly): “We are in pre-polling mode here, with pork-barrelling the favourite sport and promises promises promises for the best sporting facilities and cuts to corporate whatsits and giveaways to everybody – jobs and growth and promises for the future and it will all be the same as it has always been only more so and worse. The level of political debate has collapsed into a rambling stroll through vague impressions of rhetorical nonsense and mouths and words not matching the eyes that show the truth and the fear of losing. It is horrible! The press is vile, with commentators having an authority that implies knowledge and credibility.” Is this at all recognisable?

  11. What a lovely place to spend the day Jo and you described everything so beautifully. Thank you for sharing, am planning to return to the UK one day and will definitely want to explore your part of the world 🙂

    1. Really, it does make me realise how lucky we are to live in England, with all the history alongside the natural beauty, Sam. If I’m still here, we’ll have to meet. 🙂 And thank you!

  12. Stunning! Forget about the castle and the interior I am still lingering in the garden. What beauties! The curvaceous yew hedge reminds me of Powis Castle – I must write about that place. Too busy weeding again today… I love my garden, but after 10 years I had forgotten about all the weeding!

    1. Your poor back! Definitely a case of no gain without pain. Never mind- it’ll get a rest during Wimbledon. 🙂 Thanks, Jude. At the time I thought this one of the most stunning gardens I’ve ever been in, and then we went to Newby Hall last week. Conflicted whether to do yet another garden post for next week’s walk! We’ll see 🙂 🙂

      1. In my opinion you can never have too many garden walks. But then you know that 😀 Managed to weed the front of the house yesterday and cut back the Virginia creeper. Very wild and windy here this afternoon so I am staying indoors 🙂

  13. What a stunning place, Jo. Those funny shaped hedges reminded me of ones I saw in Costa Rica. Quite an art to it, I would imagine. That scone does look a better shape. The other one looked more like a bread roll. 🙂

    1. If I’m honest the ‘bread roll’ tasted better, Ad. It really was superb and it had real clotted cream. Not that I’m a CC snob, you understand 🙂 I loved the Alice in Wonderland hedges too.

    1. The castle is superb inside, Robin. I meant to include in my snippets of information that they used to drive coach and horses through the courtyard and into the main hall. An impressive place, though I’d hate to keep you away from the golf. 🙂

  14. The gardens in Britain are indeed exquisite and the castles immensely picturesque. I love reflection photos! Thanks for taking me along, Jo and for sharing my link. Although I feel the need to see every pretty place in person, I am very pleased and satisfied with the way you are virtually letting me explore pretty England. At the moment, I am happier with a virtual visit than a real one…

    1. There are whole sections of the globe that I’m never going to get anywhere near, sadly, Liesbet. But it’s no good spending your life wishing, is it? I’ve done more than my share of that. It’s very nice to have such good company on my walks so thank you very much. 🙂

  15. love everything in the pictures, Jo. what a beautiful walk! the hedges are extraordinary, gorgeous azaleas and the deer! I’ve never seen so many in one place. thank you for taking us along! the entire place is so peaceful and lovely 🙂

  16. Wonderful to watch those deer, isn’t it, Jo? I always enjoy doing that in our garden. Every day! 🙂 As well you know. 😉 We don’t have as many, of course, as in the gardens of Raby Castle, but here they’re closer, even with their fawns.
    As to not being allowed to take pictures inside: As you say, that’s the rule in so many places, and I can understand it. But why don’t they, as they did in the “good old days of slides”, sell CDs or DVDs with pictures? When I visit those places, I really miss the opportunity to buy some.
    Thanks for taking us around, and have a wonderful day,

    1. For a little while there I knew how you feel watching them, Pit 🙂 I didn’t actually look at the shop because an enormous thunderstorm was breaking as we came out of the castle. Quick sprint for the car. 🙂 Thanks and a great day to you too.

    1. This is a rather special bit, Ark. I don’t know how much you like castles but the interior is incredible. They used to drive a carriage right through the courtyard and into the main hall! 🙂 Thanks for your company.

  17. Of course, the castle and deer are wow. But those intricately trimmed hedges and the colored trees – hu-WOW! Would love to visit this one myself, and be trigger happy like you did.

  18. Delightful post as always Jo! You obviously had a gorgeous day for your visit – the park, walled garden and the deer it looks a lovely peaceful place 🙂 I remember the Nevilles from history and I think Shakespeare plays so I will take a look at the history link – right up my street! Hope you have a lovely week – very enjoyable blog post! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rosemay 🙂 I’m a bit tired from this morning’s walk on the Moors but I’ve got Wimbledon running in the background. The Raby Estate is fabulous, hon. If ever you get the chance… 🙂

      1. They will love High Force in Teesdale. The visitor centre always has child-related activities to involve them. Knaresborough has good riverside stuff and the castle too. Where are you nearest to? I’ll have a think and let you know. 🙂

      2. We will be near Leyburn so will do Aysgarth and Richmond, Wensleydale and Fountains Abbey and I want to go to Beamish, I have never been there. Might drive to the coast for a day if it is good weather, Whitby probably. Gosh, so much to do and we only have a week!

  19. Now I know I have definitely been here, but so long ago I can’t remember much about it apart from, like you, driving past the deer park on our way elsewhere. The “no photography” rule puzzles me – it seems to be retreating, but inconsistently. We visited two houses this weekend, both run by NTS – one allowed it, one didn’t. No flash for conservation reasons I can understand. Anyway, your garden photos are just lovely.

    Thanks, once again, for the mention.

    1. In some ways I respect it, Anabel. The interiors were extraordinary and you maintain the impact by not allowing photos. Also I think it’s a bit rude to be taking shots when someone is talking about the history. And he was very good. I was more engaged with him than if I’d had my camera in my hand. But yes, you always want a shot when you can’t have one. 🙂 And I’d need another post for the castle and I really don’t have the time. The website is very thorough and interesting too. Thanks for your company, hon. Weather staying good, or shouldn’t I ask? 🙂

      1. Blustery today! Very weird weekend – both days a gorgeous morning followed by torrential rain p.m.

        Yes, I think you’re right about guided tours.

  20. Ah…so glad you managed to get close to photograph some deer – they are so beautiful. I love the gardens here, the huge hedge is magnificently pruned with such long undulating shape.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s