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Castles near Whitby you can visit

In this article, we will explore the fascinating castles near Whitby that you can visit.

The North Yorkshire coast is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and history, and the castles in the area are no exception. So, whether you’re a history buff, a family looking for a fun day out, or someone who loves exploring impressive landmarks, these castles have something to offer everyone. So, join us as we journey through time and explore the castles that are a must-visit for anyone travelling to Whitby and the surrounding areas.

Mulgrave Castle near Whitby
Bill Boaden / Old Mulgrave Castle

Mulgrave Castle

Parking: We suggest parking your vehicle in Sandsend. The woods can be reached through a small car park adjacent to Fish Cottage.

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Facilities: Nearby facilities are in Sandsend. 

Roughly a 15-minute drive from Whitby is Mulgrave Castle. Despite being in a state of ruin, the castle’s impressive architecture and stunning surroundings make it a must-visit for anyone exploring the area.

A brief history of Mulgrave Castle 

The Old Mulgrave Castle is a historic landmark that dates to the 13th Century. It was initially built as a defensive residence to replace the Foss Castle in Mulgrave woods. Over the centuries, the castle has been home to many different families. The castle is situated on a narrow ridge between Sandsend and East Row Becks, and construction began slowly in 1069. When it was given to Peter de Mauley, the castle featured an oval-shaped platform surrounded by a high curtain wall and dry moats framing either end of the structure. The castle also had a drawbridge, adding an extra defence layer.

By 1309, the castle had already begun to deteriorate. Unfortunately, when it changed hands in the 17th Century, its condition worsened even further. In 1626, it was converted into a hunting lodge, and in 1642, it was seized for military purposes. After the war was won, the castle was deliberately destroyed to prevent its future use as a military base.

A new castle, Mulgrave Castle, was constructed nearby, and the Earl of Mulgrave instructed his landscaper to enhance the beauty of the ruins of the old castle, blending them with the surrounding woodland. The Gatehouse towers were reconstructed, and sections of the collapsed keep were remodelled. Restoration efforts continued into the 1990s, during which various features were fortified and landscaped, resulting in the current impressive state of the castle.

How to access Mulgrave Castle 

The best way to access Mulgrave Castle is via Mulgrave Woods, below the village of Lythe. The vast estate boasts abundant natural beauty and provides the perfect setting for a leisurely family stroll or a more challenging circular walk. Managed by the Mulgrave Estate, the woodland area is home to a range of trails that wind their way through the picturesque landscape, allowing visitors to explore this idyllic setting at their own pace. 

Access to the woods is limited to Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with closure during May. To reach the woods, we recommend Sandsend to Mulgrave Castle Circular Walk, it’s an easy route of 4 miles, and you can find more detail in our Explore Mulgrave Woods and Castle, Sandsend to Mulgrave Walk article.

Scarborough Castle 
Scarborough Castle 

Scarborough Castle 

Parking: We suggest using the Park and Ride or paying for the Marine Drive car park since no on-site parking is available. However, if you require disabled parking, it can be arranged if booked in advance. Please get in touch with Scarborough Castle to reserve a spot.

Food and drink: Master Gunner’s coffee shop offers a variety of freshly made, high-quality local food options, including sandwiches, a delectable assortment of cakes, and hot and cold drinks.

Toilets: Male and female toilets on site with baby changing facilities.

Scarborough Castle is one of North Yorkshire’s most impressive historical sites, boasting a breathtaking location, captivating history, and panoramic coastal views. Over the centuries, this formidable fortress has withstood attacks from Vikings, medieval barons, Tudor rebels, and even a Parliamentary army during an epic Civil War siege.

A brief history of Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Castle boasts a formidable presence on a towering headland overlooking the North Sea. The 12th-century grand tower is the focal point of a regal stronghold initially commissioned by Henry II. It was pivotal in significant national affairs throughout the Middle Ages and became one of England’s most remarkable royal fortresses. Although many of the structures on the site are comparatively new, the location has been intermittently inhabited and fortified for almost 3,000 years.

You can read more about Scarborough Castle’s vast history here.

Scarborough Castle today

Visitors today can explore the castle’s majestic ruins, follow the long curtain wall with its many towers, and climb viewing platforms in the Inner Bailey and the 12th-century Great Tower. In addition, the castle sits on a 16-acre headland teeming with wildflowers and wildlife, making it the perfect spot for a family-friendly adventure in the great outdoors. They host various great events for all ages, which you can find on their website events page. 

Castle Howard
Castle Howard is around an 1 hour drive from Whitby.

Castle Howard 

Parking: Free parking on hard surface is available to all visitors. There are designated bays for Blue Badge holders at the front of the car park.

Eat and drink: There are plenty of places to eat and drink, such as Fitzroy Café, Boathouse Café, Courtyard Café, Coffee Shop and Freya Cox Vegan Cakes.

Shopping: There are plenty of shops to visit, such as House Gift Shop, Farm Shop, Garden Centre, Tree Nursery, Castle Howard Gin, Castle and Howard Flowers.

Toilets – There are adapted toilets in the Stable Courtyard, the House, and the Boathouse Café.

Castle Howard, roughly 1 hour from Whitby, is a unique historic house that offers an excellent day out for the entire family. 

A brief history of Castle Howard 

Construction of Castle Howard was initiated in 1699 by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard. However, the project took nearly a century to complete under the supervision of the 4th Earl, Henry Howard and underwent some modifications along the way. The original Baroque design for the west wing was scrapped and replaced with the Palladian style, creating a striking contrast. Nevertheless, Castle Howard remains a magnificent embodiment of Baroque extravagance, adorned with abundant cherubs, coronets, urns, and cyphers. The central dome is a sight to behold and must be seen in person to appreciate its grandeur truly.

On September 9th, 1940, a devastating fire broke out at Castle Howard due to strong winds fanning a chimney fire. The central hall, dome, dining room, and Eastside staterooms were destroyed, resulting in the loss of 20 pictures, several valuable mirrors, and Antonio Pellegrini’s ceiling decoration on the dome. Despite the tragic loss, repairs and restoration have been ongoing for decades. In 1960-61, the central dome was rebuilt, and a replica of Pellegrini’s ceiling painting was recreated. Although the South-East wing remains a shell, the external restoration has been completed. Today, Castle Howard remains in the ownership of the Howard family, with over eight generations have called it their home.

Castle Howard today 

Spread across 1000 acres of picturesque parkland; Castle Howard boasts an impressive collection of historical artefacts amassed by the Howard family over successive generations. In addition, the estate features a myriad of scenic lakes, fountains, temples, statues, and the magnificent Yorkshire Arboretum, adding to its allure. Castle Howard runs a year-round changing program of special events such as musical performances, Santa visits, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and contemporary/historical exhibitions. You can keep updated with all on offer here.

They also have holiday cottages, a lakeside holiday park and a camping and caravan park so you can stay over and spend more time exploring the grounds and local area. Learn more here www.castlehoward.co.uk.

Pickering Castle is a 30 minute drive from Whitby.
Pickering Castle is a 30 minute drive from Whitby.

Pickering Castle

Parking: Parking is 75m from the entrance on a loose gravel surface. There are some parking spaces for disabled visitors nearer the entrance.

Shop: Small gift shop on site, selling various items, including soft drinks and a coffee machine, and picnic-style tables and chairs.

Toilets: Accessible toilets near to the car park.

Nestled in Pickering’s charming market town, this magnificent 13th-century castle offers a glimpse into its varied historical uses. Over the centuries, this beloved tourist destination in the heart of the North York Moors National Park has served as a royal hunting lodge, a vacation home, and even a stud farm for a succession of medieval monarchs. 

A brief history of Pickering Castle

Pickering Castle was a motte and bailey castle made of timber and earth. Over time, it was transformed into a stone structure featuring a shell keep. The current inner ward was initially the bailey, built between 1180 and 1187, with the keep and chapel developed into stone shell structures sometime between 1216 and 1236. The site boasts a reconstructed chapel for visitors to explore. In 1323-1326, an outer ward, curtain wall, and three towers were added, along with two ditches situated in the outer ward and outside the curtain wall. Subsequent additions included a gatehouse, ovens, a hall, and storehouses. The castle in the Vale of Pickering enjoys the defensive advantage of a cliff on its west side.

The Normans, led by William the Conqueror, constructed the original castle in 1069-1070, which included the central motte, outer fortifications, and internal buildings such as the keep atop the motte. Ditches were dug to deter assault on the walls. Its exceptional preservation can be attributed to its being largely untouched by the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century and the English Civil War in the 17th century. In 1926, the Ministry of Works took possession of the castle, and it is now open to the public as a Scheduled Monument.

Pickering Castle today 

Today Pickering Castle is a beautiful place for a day out. Great for those interested in history as it takes little imagination to visualise what it must have been like when it was complete, as there are substantial remains to be seen. A perfect place for family picnics. Visit their website to stay updated with events.

Sneaton Castle in Whitby
Sneaton Castle is located in Whitby and is primarily an events venue.

Sneaton Castle

Did you know Whitby has a castle? Sneaton Castle, Priory, and Chapel form an awe-inspiring structure that stands out as one of the most iconic landmarks in the area. The Norman-style chapel is particularly striking and fully licensed for all ceremonies. In addition, they are committed to upholding a tradition of hosting only one wedding ceremony per day at this stunning venue, ensuring that you receive their undivided attention on your special day. Visit their Garden Room restaurant, stay at the fabulous accommodation and follow their Facebook for upcoming events.

In conclusion, there are several castles near Whitby that you can explore and discover the fascinating history and architecture of the area. From the majestic and imposing Scarborough Castle to the charming and quaint Pickering Castle, each site offers a unique experience that will transport you back in time. With breathtaking views and engaging exhibits, these castles are an excellent destination for anyone seeking a glimpse into the rich heritage and culture of North Yorkshire.

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