North Yorkshire is beautiful and the Yorkshire Arboretum is no exception to this. We visited this lovely place a few months ago in the school holidays over Easter. It’s taken a while to post about it – I’ve just been so busy!
It’s a 120-acre garden of trees near Castle Howard that allows you to spend the day strolling through its acres of woodland. We had a great day in this little gem hidden in the Howardian Hills. Well, half a day. We were there for around 2 hours.
The Yorkshire Arboretum is a part of the larger Castle Howard Estates (Castle Howard is on my list of places to visit!). It is an enchanting woodland playground that has over 7000 trees and shrubs from across the globe. Its rich biodiversity extends from the North American Red Oak to the Himalayan Birch, it has lovely views that change colour with the seasons.
History Of The Yorkshire Arboretum
Taking a stroll through the arboretum today might make you feel like it’s been there forever. But its creation dates back to 1975, and despite being relatively young, the arboretum has grown into a stunning landscape of parkland.
The Castle Howard Arboretum Trust is the independent charitable trust that administers the Yorkshire Arboretum. It was established in 1994 as a partnership between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Castle Howard Estates Ltd.
King Charles also supports the arboretum and, in particular, the red squirrel conservation project.
Our Visit & Walk Among the Trees
We visited the arboretum on a fresh April Sunday morning. It looks quite busy as we pulled into the car park but once we got through to the arboretum, it was fairly quiet. It was busier near the entrance and the red squirrel enclosure, but as we walked deeper into the woodlands, there were fewer and fewer people.
There are plenty of benches dotted around so you can sit and enjoy the views or have a rest. There are also dog bins.
We walked the path around the edge. It got quite muddly as we got near the far side, and then the path stopped and it was more grassy. We came out to the arboretum lake. It would have been lovely to walk around this, but I wasn’t feeling well as I was recovering from covid and felt rubbish for a couple of weeks after! We then went to the cafe for a drink and snack and left.
We were there for about 2 hours in total. My toddler walked most of it! He loves walking and exploring and this was the perfect place to allow him to do that. He kept pointing at all the trees saying ‘trees’ – it was the first time he had said tree!
The Wildflower Meadows
As you navigate the acres of parkland, you’ll come across the arboretum’s wildflower meadows, beautiful colours that span the lovely backdrop. The sight of these blooming wildflowers, especially during the summer months, is a beautiful spot. These weren’t in bloom when we went!
The Red Squirrel Enclosure
One of the Yorkshire Arboretum’s most unique attractions is the red squirrel enclosure, a dedicated habitat for one of the UK’s most endangered mammals. This special zone is designed to provide a safe refuge for these charming creatures, complete with trees, shrubs, and natural features for them to explore. It keeps the red squirrels in and the grey squirrels out.
The red squirrels are so cute.- they wizz about the enclosure so you have to be quick to see them and be quiet. We so one very sweet red squirrel hanging out on the walkway, in plane view. It’s the first time I’ve seen a red squirrel. They are lovely!
About Red Squirrels
Red squirrels are native to the UK and other parts of Europe. The red squirrel popular in the UK has declined over the years due to habitat loss, competition with introduced grey squirrels, and a disease called squirrel pox, which is carried by grey squirrels but does not affect them. As a result, red squirrels are considered a protected species in the UK.
The introduction of non-native grey squirrels from North America has had a detrimental impact on red squirrel populations. Grey squirrels are larger and more aggressive, and they out-compete red squirrels for food and habitat.
The arboretum offers plenty of events and family activities designed for visitors of all ages. From guided walks to workshops and seasonal events, there’s always something going on. During certain times of the year, you might even stumble upon an Easter trail, offering a sweet chocolate reward at the end!
Theres various workshops and courses in the Yorkshire Arboretum, such as bat walks, learning about different species and more. Check the events page for more information.
Visitor Centre & Cafe
The Yorkshire Arboretum’s visitor centre is a welcoming hub, complete with a café offering hot and cold food and drinks. We stopped for a snack at the end of our visit, I just had a Coke and a packet of crisps and my husband had a coffee and sausage roll. They have outdoor seating for warmer days.
I had a look on Trip Advisor and there are a lot of bad reviews for the cafe saying it was disappointing and expensive. I found it expensive for what we got, but that seems to be the standard price at places like this these days. The Yorkshire Arboretum isn’t an all-day event, so there’s no need to eat there. It’s best to save your money. I’d recommend nipping into Helmsley and getting fish and chips there.
Accessibility and Amenities
Yorkshire Arboretum is committed to making its landscapes accessible to all. The arboretum’s paths are well-maintained and ideal for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Parr of the arboretum does go onto grass and can be a bit hilly, but these can be avoided if you stick to the paths.
The only toilets on-site are located near the reception area, so plan accordingly. For those with four-legged friends, the arboretum is dog-friendly, provided the pets are kept on a short lead. There is an ‘off lead’ area for them.
Visiting hours for the Yorkshire Arboretum are from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, from early February until late November.
The Yorkshire Arboretum Prices
Junior (age 12-16) £6.00
Family (2 Adults + 2 Juniors) £26.00
Under 12 years FREE
The car park is free.
Address: Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard, York YO60 7BY
The Gift Shop
We love a gift shop! Of course, the Yorkshire Arboretum has one filled with books about trees and nature. There’s also local produce and children’s toys, there’s something for everyone to remember their magical adventure in the great outdoors.
The Yorkshire Arboretum is a great place to spend the morning with my family. We had a lovely time walking around and my toddler really enjoyed having a safe place to explore. Although a play area would be a welcome addition! It’s a nice place to take the kids in the holidays to enjoy nature and learn about the fascinating world of trees. So, whether you’re a local or a tourist, it’s time to lace up your walking shoes and embark on a peaceful adventure in this majestic arboretum.
If you are looking for more things to do with kids in Yorkshire, check out this blog post.