Castle Howard Opens New Adventure Playground and Unveils Magical Family of Skelves

skelf island opens castle howard main

Castle Howard, one of Britain’s finest stately homes, has today [13 July 2019] opened its new adventure playground, Skelf Island. Magically inhabited by the otherworldly Skelves, this new addition to the Yorkshire tourist attraction will enhance its family offer and encourage children to reconnect with nature.

Legend has it that Skelves have been inhabiting a secret world over the water of Castle Howard’s Great Lake for centuries. They are said to cause mischief and mayhem high up in the trees, interact with the birds and protect the wildlife. This summer, young visitors will be invited over to Skelf Island to take part in an adventure like no other while learning about the special wildlife and ecology of the estate.

skelf island opens castle howard bridge

“Fantastic addition”

John Hoy, CEO of Castle Howard, comments, ‘The area of land across Castle Howard’s Great Lake is the original Medieval site of Henderskelf, the settlement that predates Castle Howard. This has been the inspiration for the design team working on this brand-new adventure playground and developing the concept of the otherworldly Skelves. This fantastic addition to the family offer will be included in the Gardens admission ticket and we expect it will attract a lot of visitors from both the local area and holiday makers from further afield.’

Built by Adventure Play Development company CAP.Co, the development sees a series of ingenious treetop nest structures, connected by rope bridges, slides, nets and climbing equipment suitable for all ages. In addition to the new playground, families can learn all about the magical gang of Skelves on the island, which have been brought to life by illustrator Steve Pearce, especially commissioned by Castle Howard. An illustrated children’s trail, puzzles, Boathouse Cafe and summer boat trips on the Great Lake complete the perfect family day out.

skelf island opens castle howard slide

“Sweeping parklands”

Commissioned in 1699 by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, Castle Howard remains home to the Howard family and offers visitors a rich and varied history, dramatic interiors and sweeping parklands. Visitors are invited to admire sumptuous interiors furnished with world renowned works of art and explore 1,000 acres of parkland with meandering woodland paths, lakeside terraces, temples, fountains and the Walled Garden.

Access to Skelf Island will be included within the Gardens Admission ticket which can be purchased on site or via the website to receive a 10% discount. For further information visit


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