The landscape of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has evolved since prehistoric times to create a distinctive and exceptional area characterised by soft, rolling hills, with a tapestry of arable fields, pasture and woodlands.
There are several large country houses as well as attractive villages dotted throughout the 79 square miles of the AONB, offering food, accommodation and an excellent base for walking or riding.
The Howardian Hills take their name from the landowners whose great mansion still dominates this area. Castle Howard is a spectacular 18th century palace, built by Vanbrugh in 1699, with important collections of furniture, statuary, paintings and porcelain and 1000 acres of parkland.
The River Derwent, which cuts through the Howardian Hills at the spectacular Kirkham Gorge in the east, is one of the most pristine river systems in the north of England, and supports a unique collection of plants and animals. Woodland has always been important to Ryedale’s economy, and timber from this area was sent to Whitby and Scarborough for use in shipbuilding.
Picturesque villages include Slingsby, with a central green and dancing around the maypole every Mayday, and Hovingham. Village cricket is still played in the grounds of Hovingham Hall, which is the ancestral home of H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent.
Ride One - Castle Howard and Nunnington Hall
Ride Two - Over the River Rye
Ride Three - Leavening Brow and Kirkham Gorge
Downloadable routes and more information on cycling.
For more information on the Howardian Hills, visit the official Howardian Hills website.