“ Address: Knaresborough / North Yorkshire / England „
The ruins of Knaresborough Castle stand on top of a hill overlooking the River Nidd with spectacular views of the river and the town below. I had been told that the views were rather impressive and when I recently visited I was not disappointed. I had checked out the website prior to my visit, which advised me that the castle was open daily from 10.30am until 5pm and that there was an admission charge. I arrived at about 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and was surprised to find that there wasn't an admission charge at all and instead I was able to wander around the grounds at my leisure. In fact as far as I can see there is nothing to stop visitors wandering around the castle at any time of the day or night that they wish as there are no barriers in place. I wondered if the admission charges and opening hours might perhaps refer to the museum that sits within the grounds. However if they do then on that particular day at least even that information was incorrect as the museum had just closed and it was only a few minutes past 4pm!
There's not actually a great deal left of this castle today but there is just about enough to imagine what it must have looked like in its full glory. There are several sections of the outer wall still in place and the keep is still reasonably intact. In the middle there is a large area of green grass and along the edge of the footpaths there are trees and shrubs so as I entered into the grounds it did feel more like I was entering a park than a castle. There are also plenty of wooden benches available to sit on and even some picnic tables too. A red brick building in the middle of the grassy area was the aforementioned (closed) museum.
I walked around the footpath that runs right along the inner perimeter of the walls and it was very quiet and peaceful. There were only a couple of other people around. I think if I had the paid the £2.90 admission fee that is referred to on the website then perhaps I would have felt disappointed but for free it was certainly well worth a visit. The views are amazing but I must warn you that as the footpath reaches the edge of the cliff there is a vertical drop straight down to the river so some of the views are not for the feint hearted.
Knaresborough Castle dates from around 1100. There is an early written record from 1130, which refers to work being undertaken at the castle by King Henry I and later it was a favourite haunt of King John who visited here on several occasions when he was visiting York, which is only 20 miles to the east. Throughout the 12th to late 16th century the castle remained an important fortification but in 1648 it was partially destroyed by a Parliamentary order and after this date fell into a state of repair. Today it is still privately owned and forms a part of the vast estate of the Duchy of Lancaster, although Harrogate Borough Council now administers the castle and its grounds on behalf of the estate.
Throughout the year I am told there are regular events that take place within the grounds including the locally famous "Knaresborough Bed Race". Sadly when I visited no such events were taking place but the bed race certainly sounds like good fun!
I'd certainly recommend a visit to Knaresborough Castle if you are in the area, if only to enjoy the stunning views. There might be an admission charge (or maybe not) but according to the website the current admission prices are £2.90 per adult, £1.60 per child or £1.90 for concessions.