Ancient Walls of Harewood Castle in

5 Sensational Things to do on the Harewood Castle Walk Near Leeds

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In the North of England, Yorkshire is a treasure trove for castle lovers, with plenty of famous fortresses to visit. Some of these Yorkshire castles are vast, needing a good few hours to explore fully; others, like Harewood Castle in West Yorkshire, are fascinating hidden gems!

In this post, I share all the details you need to find and follow the Harewood Castle Walk so that you can explore Harewood Castle.

Harewood Castle

A 14th-century stone fortress hidden from view isn’t what you expect to find seconds from the road connecting the City of Leeds to the thriving North Yorkshire town Harrogate. This Grade I listed Yorkshire castle is so hidden that few commuters passing by daily even know it exists!

In this guide, you’ll discover Harewood Castle’s location, where to park, the best time to visit, and what to do. There’s also some insight into the fall in fortunes of this intriguing Yorkshire hidden gem!

Harewood Castle
The massive stone walls of Harewood Castle, England

Quick Facts

Admission charge: Free

Location: Harewood Estate, West Yorkshire (about 8 miles north of Leeds).

Where to park: Harewood Village Hall car park (a modest fee is payable). Navigate to Church Lane, Harewood, West Yorkshire LS17 9LJ, but note that this small car park can get busy.

Public transport: The number 36 bus runs between Leeds and Harrogate and stops at Harewood Village.

Harewood Castle Walk time: approximately 10 minutes to the castle from the village hall car park/bus stop. Expect the return walk to take longer, as it’s all uphill!

Accessibility: This is not an accessible location due to the terrain.

Facilities: There are no facilities at Harewood Castle! The nearest toilets are at the Harewood Arms Hotel – almost opposite the Harewood estate entrance.

About Harewood Castle, Yorkshire

Harewood Castle was constructed in the 14th century by Sir William de Aldeburgh. It’s the oldest building on the Harewood estate – predating Harewood House by about 400 years.

Officially a “fortified tower house”, Harewood Castle is hewn into a steeply sloped site with commanding views across Yorkshire’s stunning Wharfedale Valley.

The portcullis at Harewood Castle
The portcullis at Harewood Castle

The castle has a massive portcullis defending the main entrance, narrow arrow-slit windows and the remains of huge metal grills over the larger windows, which suggest that it was designed for defensive purposes, status, and as a family residence.

A castle ruined…

When the family fortunes waned, one descendant died in penury in Fleet Street Prison in London. The Castle was sold to clear debts and ceased to be used as a principal residence, although it was probably occupied for another century before it fell into disrepair.

What’s The Best Time to Visit Harewood Castle?

Technically, the castle is accessible all year round, but the paths are slippery after rainfall and treacherous (but beautiful) after it snows!

Spring is the most stunning time to visit when the woods are full of spring blooms and dainty tree blossoms. May is especially pretty as swathes of bluebells carpet the woodland floor and perfume the air.

When is it Not Safe to Visit?

Harewood Castle is located in a remote wood with steep paths. Don’t venture here when the ground is icy or during high winds, as there’s a danger of falling trees.

How To Find Harewood Castle

Located just off the A61 from Leeds to Harrogate, Harewood Castle is not signposted, so you must know what to look out for!

The Harewood Village Hall car park is located in Church Lane – on the left side of the road (just after the entrance to Harewood House) if you’re approaching from Leeds.

After parking your car, walk back to the A61, turn left, and then turn left again into Bondgate. Ignore all the incredibly cute little stone cottages and walk straight ahead until you see a signpost for a footpath.

Keep walking straight ahead, even though it feels like you’re walking down a private drive!

Opposite the double gates, you’ll make out an overgrown entrance to an unmade footpath – this is the start of the Harewood Castle Walk!

Take care! The path slopes down quite steeply. It can be very muddy and slippery, even in the summer. Watch your step as you walk down the path and through the tunnel.

The Path to Harewood castle

After the tunnel, the path curves round to the right and a woodland path opens up in front of you. Don’t bother looking for any signs to the castle – there aren’t any!

You’ll soon forget how close the road is. The only sounds are the wind whispering through the trees, the trickle of the brook, and joyful birdsong – lots of birdsong! It feels like you’re miles away from anywhere!

The woodland walk to Harewood Castle
The verdant woodland walk to Harewood Castle

Looking to the right as you walk, you’ll be treated to incredible views through the trees across Yorkshire’s fabled rolling green hills.

In the far distance, the towering rocky outcrop of Almscliffe Crag stands high above Lower Wharfedale, between the tiny villages of Huby and North Rigton.

Almscliffe Crag peeping through the trees on the path to Harewood Castle
Almscliffe Crag peeping through the trees on the Harewood Castle Walk

On your left, a shallow brook gurgles along in the ditch (except after rainfall, when it’s much more enthusiastic). It’s easy to lose yourself in the serene magic of this space.

How to See The Upper Level of the Castle

It doesn’t look remotely like a crossing, but yes – this is where you must cross the ditch! Very carefully!

Look out for the crossing over the brook/ditch. When I last visited, the only sign of this was a few roughly hewn steps leading down the bank, painted wood strewn across the boggy ditch, and more steps leading up the bank on the other side, with a path leading up the hill.

The crossing over the boggy brook - on the path to Harewood Castle
The crossing over the boggy brook – one of the “features” of the Harewood Castle Walk

Scramble up the stone steps protruding from the bank and take the steep path to the top of the hill. Catch your breath and follow the path to your left, even though you still can’t see the castle at this stage.

The first glimpse of Harewood Castle
The first glimpse of Harewood Castle

Then suddenly, the light changes and the massively thick stone walls of the castle appear through the dense trees.

How to See The Lower Level of the Castle

The best (and safest) way to explore the lower area of the castle is to retrace your steps to the path by the tunnel and walk further down the path (away from the tunnel) until you see the castle. There’s a second place here where you can cross the ditch.

I found it much easier (and safer) to scramble up the paths at the side of the castle from this second crossing than attempting the steep descent from the upper path.

The crossing over the ditch to the lower level at Harewood Castle
The crossing over the ditch to the lower level at Harewood Castle

Caution: Don’t cross here if water is in the ditch; seeing how deep it is is impossible. Also, don’t try this route in reverse: climbing up the steps from the ditch was challenging, but they would be perilous to descend! Take the path at the side of the castle instead.

Things to Do at Harewood Castle

Harewood Castle is incredibly peaceful and scenic. Here are some ideas for what you can do during your visit:

1. Bring Your Camera

Views of Harewood Castle
The Upper Level at Harewood Castle

Harewood isn’t the biggest castle in Yorkshire, but it’s quirky, and you can explore freely. There are also lots of opportunities to get great photos. While you can’t go inside the building (it’s too dangerous), there are plenty of views to capture.

Watch your step! The paths around the castle are perilously steep and there are warning signs about the dangers of falling masonry!

2. Try Forest Bathing

In addition to exploring the castle ruins, the woods around Harewood Castle are the perfect place for forest bathing or “shinrin-yoku“. Enjoy a couple of hours of mindful exploration among the trees to unwind and feel completely refreshed.

3. Have a Picnic

Harewood Castle is perfect for a light picnic among the trees! While there are plenty of fallen trees to perch on, you might want to take a lightweight folding chair with you to relax and listen to the sounds of the trees and birds.

Fallen trees abound in the woodland at Harewood
Fallen trees abound in the woodland along the Harewood Castle Walk

There are no bins, so leave only footprints and take your rubbish away with you.

4. Deer Spotting

The 4,000-acre Harewood Deer Park, just beyond the castle, has hundreds of red, roe, and fallow deer. If you’re lucky, you will see these graceful animals grazing nearby as they have done since medieval times.

5. Enjoy Bird Watching

Tranquil Harewood Castle is idyllic for bird watching. The impressive red kite is one of the most magnificent birds you’ll likely see. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Visit Local Attractions

View of Harewood House on day trips from York
Glorious Harewood House, viewed from the Parterre garden

Why not extend your trip and visit Harewood House? This stunning stately home has an incredible “below-stairs kitchen”, gorgeous staterooms and fabulous gardens to explore; plus, there are some lovely tea rooms with very good cake.

Harewood Castle Walk FAQs

I hope I’ve answered all of your questions about visiting Harewood Castle. In case I’ve missed something, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about this castle and the walk to it.

Can you walk around Harewood Castle?

Harewood Castle is lovely to visit and wander around – perfect for walkers of all ages; however, the Harewood Castle Walk is not suitable for walkers with accessibility issues.

How long is the Harewood Castle Walk?

Allow 1-2 hours for this walk, depending on weather conditions, your fitness level, and on how long you want to spend at the castle.

What is the best time to take the Harewood Castle Walk?

Springtime is my pick for the best time to enjoy the hardwood Castle Walk because you can enjoy the spectacle of the bluebells in flower!

Wrap-Up – Harewood Castle Walk

Did you enjoy this guide to the Harewood Castle Walk? Are you inspired to visit this hidden gem in the Harewood Estate when you’re in Yorkshire? Here are some more ideas to inspire your Yorkshire explorations:

The Most Beautiful Towns in Yorkshire
Things To Do in Skipton
Day Trips From Leeds
Things to Do in Ripon
Visiting Ripley Castle and Quaint Little Ripley Village


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