Raby and High Force receive ‘Good To Go’ Certification
Raby Castle and High Force Hotel have become among the first tourism venues in the region to receive the Good to Go certification from Visit England in recognition of the measures we have taken to meet government and industry COVID-19 guidelines.
Raby and High Force have been reopening gradually as government advice has been updated during the easing of lockdown, completing comprehensive risk assessments, and putting measures in place to maintain cleanliness and support social distancing.
Our open spaces a Raby Castle and High Force Waterfall were the first to reopen as restrictions eased, with pre-booked visitors returning to enjoy the beautiful summer colour in the Walled Gardens and the far-reaching views in the Deer Park, along with a carefully managed circular walk to the Waterfall at High Force.
The Castle, Stables Café and Woodland Play Area and High Force Hotel reopened on July 4th following further updated guidance. Some facilities will open in a limited capacity and visitors are advised to check the Raby website for the latest information about what’s open.
Claire Jones, Head of Leisure and Tourism at Raby Estates said: “We have taken a very careful, phased approach to reopening our facilities and we are delighted to have received the Good To Go certification, which reflects the work we have done to meet COVID-19 guidelines.
“We want visitors to feel confident about visiting Raby and High Force, and sharing information about the precautions we have taken, so that people know what to expect before they arrive, has been incredibly important.
“Feedback from visitors about how we have reopened, and the information we have shared has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is lovely to see people enjoying our open spaces and beautiful views once again.
You can find out more about the measures we have put in place on the Coronavirus pages on our website, which also include answers to Frequently Asked Questions and a video guide to how we are managing cleanliness and social distancing.
Visitors Savour Tranquil Evenings in the Park
A heady combination of sultry summer weather, lavish garden borders and the welcome reopening of our open spaces following lockdown has brought an incredible response from visitors who enjoyed our two special evening openings of the Park and Gardens in late June.
Photo credit: David Dodds Photography
People of all ages, including young families meeting relatives for the first time since March, and others who had not left their homes for many months, enjoyed social distanced walks in the expansive grounds of the Castle.
Photo credit: David Dodds Photography
Soft music inspired by the natural surroundings, summer scented incense and glowing storm candles in the Walled Gardens created a sense of calm during the two evenings, the first of which was held to mark the Summer Solstice.
A spectacular seasonal floral wreath provided the perfect photo backdrop in the Walled Gardens, and children enjoyed dancing under the ribbons of the wishing tree. The glorious open space in the Deer Park gave visitors ample room to sit and watch the sun go down over the Castle and to savour the tranquillity of the evening.
Floral wreath by Berry House Flowers
Sophie Brown, from the Raby events team, said she had been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from visitors both during and after the two evening openings.
“The atmosphere was incredibly relaxing and many of the people who came were visiting Raby for the first time, so it was wonderful for them to experience its space and beauty on a summer’s evening,” she said.
“Throughout both evenings, visitors took time to tell us how safe they felt and how much they appreciated having somewhere to come that was so peaceful and special, particularly those who were coming to meet relatives for the first time since lockdown,” she added.
Photo credit: David Grey
The two open evenings were also a fabulous opportunity for photographers to capture the beauty of the park and garden. Here are just some of the amazing images and wonderful comments we have received since the Summer Solstice and Evening in the Park, all of which have been so appreciated by our small and hard-working team:
“We would just like to express our thanks to you for having the vision to open the castle grounds and gardens on Saturday evening.”
“We did not really know what to expect but we had a most enjoyable time and made the most of a beautiful evening in wonderful surroundings.”
“It was so good to be among people after the past 3 months of lockdown and it was noticeable that others were feeling the same. It was particularly pleasing to see families with young children picnicking and enjoying the freedom that the parkland offered.”
“I would like to thank you for the wonderful Summer Solstice Evening we enjoyed in Saturday! The walled garden looked stunning and the music playing was perfect for the occasion.”
“We had an amazing evening on Saturday, thank you so much for opening. So much space and such a tranquil experience. Highly recommended.”
“Thoroughly enjoyed it, had a wonderful night. Really enjoyed the music in the gardens.”
“Absolutely superb evening – thank you! Well organised and very peaceful and relaxed.”
“We had a lovely evening last night. Thank you. It’s the 1st time my parents have been in a public space for over 3 months and they absolutely loved it. A great Father’s Day present. I can’t tell you how much it meant to us as a family as they got to spend some time with their grandson. It was perfect.”
“We had such an amazing evening last night. Can’t recommend it highly enough! Was magical.”
“It really was a lovely night. The atmosphere was so calm and relaxed. It was lovely seeing everyone having a lovely time.”
“A fabulous evening tonight at Raby castle ….loved the extra little touches like the candles and incense in the walled garden along with the music …will come again to an evening walk in the castle grounds ….Thankyou.”
“We really enjoyed our evening visit for the Summer Solstice. It was such a lovely atmosphere; so calm and peaceful. The gardens were beautiful and looked lovely at dusk. The evening was so well organised and it was clear that visitor safety was paramount. Visitor numbers were limited, car parking was really well spaced out and toilets were spotlessly clean. After 3 months of lockdown this was greatly appreciated! Thank you!”
We hope to open for further ‘Summer Lates’ throughout July and August, and will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast.
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Feature Fridays with Historic Houses
We are delighted to be involved in a fantastic initiative by Historic Houses which is showcasing some of the intriguing features of the nation’s heritage properties.
Feature Fridays takes a different theme each week and explores some of the unique characteristics of buildings up and down the country, along with the fascinating stories behind them.
We have been following the themes and sharing relevant stories and images from Raby Castle, which have been enjoyed by Historic Houses members and followers nationwide.
Here are just some of the Feature Fridays we have been involved in:
Entrances and Exits
The Entrance Hall at Raby Castle was adapted by architect John Carr for the 2nd Earl of Darlington to celebrate the coming-of-age of his heir in 1787. The transformative scheme made it possible for carriages to drive straight through the hall, eliminating the need to turn in the courtyard. This provided an impressive welcome for visitors – and a swift escape from the often inclement weather of the North East! Find out more about the entrance here.
The ‘Wheel of Weapons’ is an impressive display of muskets and other historic firearms in the Entrance Hall at Raby Castle in County Durham. The wheel has been a feature in the Entrance Hall for over a century and is always a talking point for our visitors.
Hidden in North Wood, in an area not open to the public, the Gateway Folly at Raby Castle is a Grade II listed building. In 1780, the architect John Carr of York was commissioned by the 2nd Duke of Cleveland to make a number of alterations to the castle, including the creation of a drive-through carriageway through the Entrance Hall.
This project involved the demolition of the medieval barbican on the south side of the castle. Elements of the Barbican can still be found in buildings across Raby Park, including the North Wood Folly. Described by a contemporary source in the Raby archives as “a design for a ruined gateway with lodges”, Carr built this curious structure as a screen and incorporated the archway and other fragments of the Barbican in his design.