Howardian Hills AONB

Castle Howard, Howardian Hills AONB, England
Howardian Hills AONB ©

Howardian Hills – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in the north of England in the county of North Yorkshire. The area was first designated a AONB back in 1987, the area covers 204 square kilometres making it one of the more compact AONBs in the UK. Located between the Vale of Pickering and the Vale of York, the area is located just to the southwest of the North York Moors National Park. The area is well known for its well wooded rolling countryside, hills, valleys and ridges providing a richly varied landscape and rich wildlife habitats.

The local population of approx 6,100 live primarily in historic villages located across the countryside. The AONB covers an area from close to Helmsley in the north to Easingwold in the west to Howsham in the south to Malton in the east. The area is of national importance for nature conservation with a number of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Scheduled Monuments. The has a rich history and includes hilltops with Iron Age earthworks, castles, monasteries and historic houses all of which have influenced and effected the landscape of the area through history.

The area includes a number of special qualities including being the only area of Jurassic limestone in the north of England to be designated as a AONB. The landscape that includes woodlands, historic houses, hills and valleys offer wonderful panoramic views. The area is rich in wild plants and animals with habitats of national importance. The peace and tranquillity of the area offers visitors a welcome contrast to the hustle and bustle of modern town and cities.

The main industries in the AONB include farming and agriculture and tourism, there are a number of scenic villages located in the AONB including Welburn, Gilling East and Nunnington.

The area is popular horse riding, canoeing, wildlife watching, day trippers and walkers and cyclists with a range of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy unspoiled scenic landscapes, exploring the great outdoors and benefit from the serenity and tranquillity the area is known for.

Quick Facts

Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1987

Population: 6,100 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 204

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs): 8
Scheduled Monuments: 79
Listed Buildings: 373
Main Settlements close by: Helmsley, Malton, Easingwold and York.
Located in: North Yorkshire.


Howardian Hills AONB is located in the northern English county of North Yorkshire, the compact AONB provides an ideal place for visitors after a scenic retreat in the countryside away from the traffic and fast pace of life in the towns and cities. The AONB area itself is sparsely populated and includes a number of traditional small villages steeped in history and tradition showcasing the rich history and cultural heritage of the area.

Howardian Hills has a rich history and is of national importance for, ecology, geology and wildlife. Within the AONB area there are no large cities, towns or settlements, rather the area includes smaller villages and hamlets with the market tons of Helmsley and Malton located a few miles away. The city of York is located approx 10 miles from the southern boundary of the AONB. The commercial development in the area is on the whole still relatively smaller in scale offering visitors the opportunity to see a largely unspoilt and mainly rural making the area ideal for visitors after a quiet, rural getaway.

The location in the north of England means the AONB is assessable from the north west and north east of England and the Midlands and is under 2 hours drive from Newcastle, one hour from Leeds, 2 hours 30 minutes from Birmingham and 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours 30 from Manchester and Liverpool. From these regions the AONB is assessable as a day trip, short break or longer break destination. From London and southern England the area is 4 hours 30 minutes to 6 hours by car.

Tourist Information Centres are located at various locations close by to the Howardian Hills. The TICs are based in Malton, Easingwold and Thirsk located close by to the Howardian Hills. The visitor centres provides visitors with information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas. Each of the centres has knowledgeable staff that can provide useful local knowledge on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres makes for a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area.

Local Accommodation includes a choice of both historic and contemporary hotels, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, camping facilities and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Hovingham, Coneysthorpe, Gilling East. There is accommodation available in the nearby cities of York and market towns of Helmsley, Malton and Easingwold all of which are located conveniently close by to the AONB and provide convenient locations from which to explore the AONB and the local areas.

Within the Howardian Hills AONB visitors can explore a number of charming, historic villages and hamlets each has its own character, history and charm. Visiting the local villages and hamlets provides visitors with an insight in to local history, tradition and culture. The small towns and villages include a number of local attractions and places of interest for visitors to discover.

Local Towns & Villages include Hovingham a large village located in the Vale of Rydale. Local attractions include Hovingham Hall centrally located in the village, the Grade I listed building is designed in a Palladian style and is the home of the Worsley family. All Saints Church is a historic church is a Grade II listed building and includes an alter cross dating back to the 10th century. The village includes a number of local small business including a choice of retail shops, bakery, cafe and public house.

The village was once a market town holding regular markets, after a break of over 150 years the Hovington Village Market has returned. The monthly village market includes over 30 stalls where visitors can find a choice of fresh produce, products and crafts. The convenient location in the Howardian Hills along with local amenities and a choice of accommodation facilities mean the village is a popular base for visitors touring the area.

Malton is a market town located close to the eastern boundary of the AONB. The origins of the town are thought to go back to Roman times, the town once had a wooden Norman castle, Malton Castle back in the 11th century, the caste was destroyed in the 14th century and fell in to ruins. Local attractions include Eden Camp, a military themed museum covering British military and social history since 1914. St Mary's Priory Church in Old Malton is a historic church that dates back to the 12th century. The town still holds a market every Saturday and a Farmer' Market once a month.

Malton Museum showcases the social, economic and industrial history of the town, there are Roman artefacts including documents, building materials, military items and items related to food and rural life giving a fascinating insight in to the history and times of the town. The local facilities, amenities including the train station and convenient location ensure the market town is a popular choice for visitors to base themselves from when visiting the Howardian Hills and the surrounding areas.

Nunnington is a scenic village located in the Ryedale District in North Yorkshire. Located in the north of the AONB, Nunnington is located 10 miles north west of Malton. The village is located on the River Rye, visitors can enjoy a number of scenic walks offering some spectacular panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. The village is home to a number of historic buildings, the parish church is a Grade II listed building with parts of the church dating back to the 13th century. In total there are close to 30 houses and objects in the village that have Grade II listed status. The village includes a public house serving food and refreshments whilst holiday cottage accommodation is available.

Nunnington Hall is a Grade I listed building is the most famous attraction in the village located. The historic country house is under the care of the National Trust, located on the banks of the River Rye in a gloriously scenic countryside setting. The hall dating back to the 16th century includes a number of rooms visitors can explore including the Dining Room and Lord Prestons Room, the Oak Hall, the Drawing Room, the Panelled Bedroom and the Oak Bedroom. The period rooms include fine collections of furniture, fine art and photography.

The Gardens are a haven for horticulture enthusiasts, the River Rye flows through the grounds. The main lawn includes orchards on each side that include pears, apples, stone fruit and wild flower meadows provided a fine place to enjoy a scenic walk in pleasant surroundings. The historic house plays host to a number of events throughout he course of the year including musical programmes and exhibitions.

Castle Howard is located 6 miles to the west of Malton. The Grade I listed building dates back to the beginning of the 18th century and has been the family home for the Howard family for 300 years. The imposing house is set within a stunning landscape cover 1,000 acres, visitors can tour the house and the gardens. Highlights include the Grand Staircase, The Great Hall, Antique Passage, The Crimson Dining Room and the Long Gallery. The house includes an internationally important picture collection from art works collected by the family over generations.

The Grounds & Gardens offer visitors with some 1,000 acres to explore further, garden highlights include the Walled Garden and the Woodland Garden. There are a number of woodland walks , lakes, fountains, temples and an inspiring landscape offering stunning natural scenery and views. Castle Howard is famous for its annual displays of roses, delphiniums, rhododendrons and daffodils among others. Visitors can also see a changing programme of exhibitions and displays. There is an adventure playground for children, a visit to Castle Howard offers a fun filled and educational day out for the whole family.

Yorkshire Lavender is located in Terrington, 9 miles west of Malton. The attractions is a Lavender Farm, Lavender Farm and Specialist Plant Nursery located on a hillside farm of close to 60 acres within the Howardian Hills AONB. Visitors can walk amongst the lavender flowers in the Lavender Garden with the famous purple lavender along with blues, lilacs, pinks and whites giving off their famous scents. Visitors can discover the Wibbly Wobble Way pathway, the Deer Park, Sculpture Park and even hillside Snakes and Ladders. There is a selection of lavender and herbs plants in the Specialist Plant Nursery.The gift shop includes a range of lavender products along with gifts, foods, books, souvenirs and mementos. The Tea Room and Restaurant is a place where visitors can enjoy refreshments, with teas, coffees, lunch and afternoon tea whilst enjoying panoramic views.

Walking is a popular activity in the AONB and surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Howardian Hills offers walkers a choice landscapes and terrain, there are a number of routes including walks in and around the villages of Hovington, Nunnington and Welburn. The walks vary from 1.5 miles to 5 miles and are designed to encourage walkers to further explore and learn more about the local wildlife, history and landscapes. Walking in the area provides a cost effective, environmentally friendly, fun way to get off the beaten track and discover the best in the local countryside.

Cycling provides a cost effective, fun way to explore the Howardian Hills AONB and the surrounding areas in an environmentally friendly way whilst getting fit and seeing local attractions and places of interest up close. The area includes a range landscapes and scenery including quiet country lanes, bridleways and a number of charming villages to visit. There are a choice of cycle routes in the area, including the Sustrans National Route 65 and a number of guided routes from Malton, there are cycle routes and a choice of terrains to suit a range of abilities and interests.

Visitors to the Howardian Hills AONB in the north of England will find a scenic haven with plenty of open spaces and countryside. There is a varied landscape in the AONB and charming historic small local towns, villages and hamlets. The area is known for its rural character making it ideal for visitors after a tranquil and scenic getaway.

How to Get There

Howardian Hills AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The town of Malton is located next to the AONB, located approx 18 miles from York and 230 miles from central London. From London, take the A5 then take the M1 motorway until the junction with theM18 and exit on to the M18. At junction 2 of the M18 take the exit for the A1(M) to Leeds. At junction 44 of the A1(M) take the exit for A64 towards York. Continue on the A64 until the exit for the B1248. From the B1248 turn left on to Market Place that goes to Malton. The approx journey time is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Malton is located close by to the AONB area, from London King's Cross Station there are services to York railway station from York there are services to Malton. The approx journey time is 2 hours 35 minutes to 3 hours depending on time of day and connections.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to York coach station. From York there are bus services via the Yorkshire Coastliner service 843 towards Scarborough that stops at Malton. The approx journey time is approx 5 hours 40 minutes to 6 hours 30 minutes depending on time of day, connections and traffic. Bus services from York to Malton are provided by Yorkshire Coastliner Coach services to York are provided by services are provided by National Express.

Contact Details

Howardian Hills AONB
The Mews
Wath Court
North Yorkshire
YO62 4NN

Telephone: +44 (0)845 034 9495

Website: Howardian Hills AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Howardian Hills (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Howardian Hills ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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