walled garden

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!

A cup of coffee and a rose or two


It’s a damp old morning in my corner of the UK, so what better thing to do than move on to my second coffee (ok- third!) of the day and wander through some roses with you?  A few weeks back, just before the colours started to turn, I made a Sunday afternoon visit to The Gardens at Wynyard Hall. In the profusion of colour that this Autumn has been, I almost forgot all about it.

Sir John Hall bought Wynyard Hall Estate in 1987 and has turned it into a truly sumptuous venue. I was lucky enough to attend a wedding there a few years ago and the stained glass panels high in the beautifully imperious house remain a warm memory.  Many years in the planning, Sir John says that even as a boy he dreamed of owning his own rose garden. He has enlisted RHS award winning landscape architect Alistair Baldwin and rose expert Michael Marriott from David Austin Roses to help make his dream come true.

I think he probably succeeded

I think he probably succeeded


The setting is a nicely weathered wall garden, and the planting is lush.  Newly opened this year, it was designed to be a rose garden for the 21st century.  It takes inspiration from the geometric order of Persian grids and the Moorish influence of a bubbling rill, crowned by the raised beds of the traditional English kitchen garden.

Of course, there are tea rooms

Of course, there are tea rooms

And a South Border to attract the butterflies

And a South Border to attract the butterflies

An old bell set high in the wall

An old bell set high in the wall

Wonderful Cosmos

Wonderful Cosmos

You can wander through to the gardens of the Grand Marquee, if there is not an event in progress.  The view sweeps down to the lake and there is still more planting to be admired.  A little old, and something new.

Not much beats an old urn

Not much beats an old urn

Delicately blushing Cosmos

Delicately blushing anemone

And thistle delight!

And thistle delight!

Set beside glorious old walls

Set beside glorious old walls

But inevitably the stars of the show are the roses.  The visitor guide lists 135 species but I am not going to attempt to name them all for you. (huge sighs of relief!)  We’ll just share a small gallery together.  I hope you enjoy them!