Harewood House is somewhere I’d wanted to visit for years but always held off because I thought it would be too busy. Some people don’t mind crowded places, but I always feel like I’m standing in someone’s way, or get stressed out by the person in front of me walking too slowly! Last summer though we took advantage of the limited opening to visit Harewood when we knew it wouldn’t be too busy. Due to Covid (and having the dogs with us) we didn’t go into the house itself, but spent a nice afternoon wandering around the park and gardens, as well as peeking through the fence of the farmyard to try and get a glimpse of the goats…
Entry to Harewood is pretty pricey – you can buy tickets on the estate website ahead of your visit to guarantee entry on the day. Pre-booking also saves you 10% compared to the price of paying on the day (at the moment it is pre-booking only due to Covid restrictions). I have to say, if you are only going to visit one pay for entry country house this summer, I would probably recommend Castle Howard over Harewood – the vibe is just slightly more welcoming and the estate is, I think, a lot easier to navigate and explore. The gardens at Harewood are nice but don’t quite have the overwhelming abundance of those at Castle Howard – I remember being actually quite disappointed in how empty the walled garden was. The Himalayan Garden was, however, much more interesting than the rest of the gardens and definitely worth exploring. When we visited there was a one way system in place in this part of the garden and this actually made it much easier to make sure we saw everything.
Like many country houses, Harewood has an ornamental lake you can walk around, which is home to a very large number of swans (luckily these ones weren’t particularly interested in us, I’m a bit nervous of swans as the ones at Fountains Abbey always come at me with intent!). The lake is part of a Capability Brown landscape, with sweeping lawns and clumps of trees artistically scattered across the park. If you are interested in Brownian landscapes, Harewood is a fantastic example, and if you explore the grounds further you will come across fascinating features including Harewood Castle. For those who are less inclined to walk there are boat trips available on the lake! For families there is an adventure playground as well as the aforementioned zoo. There is also a Bird Garden where you can see, amongst other species, penguins and flamingoes.
Dog friendly rating – 3/5. Dogs on leads are allowed in the gardens and parkland but not, understandably, in the petting zoo or bird garden. Walking around the gardens doesn’t take too long, so those looking to take their dogs on a longer walk might want to look at one of the longer walks around the estate. As Coal was too young for long walks when we visited we sadly didn’t venture far out into the parkland, but this walk on the Walking Englishman looks to be a good one (which also takes you past the set of Emmerdale for any soap opera fans out there).
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