Jo’s Monday walk : Raby Castle and Deer Park

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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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!

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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!

151 comments

    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.

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  1. 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 😉

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      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!

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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! 😀 ♥

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      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?

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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!) 😀

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  6. 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.

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    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 😦

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  7. 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! 🙂

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