The Howardian Hills AONB covers 204 sq km (79 sq miles) of the North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a unique and captivating landscape with rolling countryside, arable and pasture fields, woodlands scenic villages and historic country houses. They take their name from the Howard family who are still local land owners. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation was confirmed in 1987, in recognition of its national landscape importance.
Imposing Castle Howard near York is one of the premier stately homes of England. The baroque eighteenth century masterpiece was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle. It took more than a hundred years to complete Castle Howard, but the bulk of the work was carried out between 1700 and 1710. The most dramatic feature of the building is the impressive central dome, a bold structure that had never been used to crown a private dwelling in England before. The Yorkshire Arboretum is a stunning 120 acre garden of trees from all around the world set in a stunning landscape of parkland, lakes and ponds on the Castle Howard Estate.
The former Cistercian Rievaulx Abbey, set in a remote valley in the North York Moors National Park near Helmsley, is one of the most complete, and atmospheric, of England’s abbey ruins.
Historic Nunnington Hall is owned by the National Trust and stands on the banks of the River Rye. Above the house Caulkley’s Bank ridge lies between Nunnington and the Vale of York to the south.The oldest part of the current house is the Stone Hall, which is part of the original sixteenth century building. The Hall also contains the Carlisle Collection of miniature rooms, with 16 miniature rooms, fitted out with furnishings at an eighth of their original size.