Just 3 miles outside Harrogate, North Yorkshire, sits Ripley Castle. The main central building of the quaint little village of Ripley itself. I have driven past it so many times on my way to walks in the Dales and beyond, it had become time to take half a day out and take a proper look around.
The first thing to note is that parking is free at Ripley, it was so refreshing to see that. The village is not big at all, but literally a couple hundred of metres away from it all there is a big car park with plenty of space for most touristic days. I am sure that they get more visitors and returning visitors due to ease of and free to use parking.
Today was a lovely day, cloudy but warm and dry. You know I love the outdoors more than in so a walk around the Castle grounds itself along with a look at the gardens was in order. Stepping through the entrance gate the caste building itself is immediately upon us. It was peaceful and quiet too. A lovely place to relax and enjoy some views and history.
The history of Ripley Castle (actually a grand country house) is absolutely intriguing. It is one of those buildings that more history than you thought. It starts way back in the 14th Century and the land was owned and still owned by the Ingilby Baronets. Thomas Ingilby in the 1300s, saved King Edward III from a wild boar. He was knighted and had the boar on the family crest. Hence as you walk around the village and castle there are so many references to pigs and boars.
In the early 16th Century, Sir William Ingilby hosted Scotland’s James VI who travelling on his way to being crowned King James I of England. Then only 2 years later he hosted the gang of the Gunpowder Plot (some of them close family members of the Ingilbys) as they got ready for the day they were going to try to kill the said King. He was charged with treason but got away with it.
However, a later William Ingilby supported the King Charles I during the civil war and took part in the nearby Battle of Marston Moor. The Royalists lost so after running back to the castle he hid in a priesthole as Oliver Cromwell chose there to stay after the battle. William’s sister, Trooper Jane Ingilby then held Oliver Cromwell at gunpoint on entry and ensured he left the next morning.
Later descendants of the Ingilbys brought us characters galore by all accounts including Sir John who rebuilt the castle in the 1780s plus his son, also a Sir John, demolished the village of Ripley and completely rebuilt it.
There are many beautiful walks around the outside of the castle and around the village, but it was a pleasure to wander within and around the grounds and gardens. As I stated already, it is more peaceful and open spaced than I had imagined. Perfect for a family walk. A circuit around the lake and through the deer park is a treat!
Behind the castle are the woodlands and gardens. The pathways through the trees are full of variety and some of the oak trees here are thought to be at least 1000 years old. It is one of those places I have made a mental note of to come back in Autumn.
Then there are the walled gardens. I hadn’t realised that here lies some of the biggest herbaceous borders within Britain plus some collections of fruits that are rare indeed. The colour was absolutely everywhere, and we were here at the perfect time for the fruit hanging from the trees.
And a look into the hothouses produced many more delights. Tropical plants, ferns and cacti of such variety.
It was one of those places to visit that makes you realise that there is more to see than you could imagine beforehand. Stunning tranquil walk with views of all kinds in each direction.
The walk around was extremely nice and a wonderful way to pass an afternoon. There was only one way to top the day off and that is to step back out, into the village, and to sample some of the ‘World Famous Ripley Ice Cream’, not sure why it is called world famous, but judging by the amount of people taking their turn to get some it certainly was famous enough for people to visit here just for it. Think Mr Whippy type ice cream but lots more natural and homely.
Well, the day certainly got more interesting than I imagined and again a day to learn, see and experience a whole lot. Not only will I be back to experience in another season but I want to explore the village itself a whole lot more too.