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Family Visits and Skelf Island

Enjoy a day out like no other at Castle Howard, with lots to see and do. From the award-winning Skelf Island Adventure Playground, to adventures around the Gardens, to marvels in the House, there's plenty to occupy a full day for families. Check our What's On for family events, particularly around the school holidays, and use the information below to help you plan your day.

Practical information to help you plan your day

Bikes and scooters: We regret that bikes, children's scooters, or other similar ‘transport’ toys are not allowed in the grounds other than for under 5s who require small scooters or balance bikes. This is due to the amount of Estate traffic and pedestrian visitors on the drive and around walkways and paths. However, we can recommend cycle routes in the wider area, and you are welcome to use racks in the car park if cycling to us or using our Courtyard facilities.

Ball games: Ball games with small children are welcome on the North Front space only, not in any other areas of the gardens or near buildings and sculptures. No team sports or adult ball games.

Pushchairs: We regret that pushchairs are not permitted in the House, but they can be stored in a pushchair holding area in the House Entrance. 'Hip-seats' can be borrowed to assist in carrying children (6 months - 3 years old) through the house. We sadly don't allow rucksack-style carriers. 

Baby-changing facilities: Our facilities can be found in the House, Boathouse and Courtyard toilets.

Eating: The relaxed Boathouse Café serves family friendly ranges including freshly prepared sandwiches, homemade soups and cakes from our kitchen and a selection of hot and cold drinks and the kiosk serves locally made ice cream. The Boathouse Kitchen serves tempting hot food, including Castle Howard burgers, stonebaked pizzas, hotdogs and milkshakes with vegan options available. The Boathouse Cafe and Kitchen are open during weekends and the school holidays. A children's menu is available in the Courtyard Café, open daily. Picnic tables are available in the Boathouse area, or you're welcome to picnic in the Grounds.

We recommend booking tickets online in advance, to save 10% on the walk-up ticket price.

Book tickets

Skelf Island Adventure Playground

Skelf Island, our legendary Adventure Playground is named after the historic site Castle Howard sits on, Henderskelfe. Throughout the school holidays, you might encounter the faerie-like creatures that live in the canopies and crooks of Skelf Island, known as Skelves, they’re a friendly and curious bunch that loves to play!

For centuries the Skelves have inhabited a secret world, over the water from Castle Howard, causing mischief and mayhem high up in the trees, interacting with birds and protecting wildlife. They’re curious about humans too and want to explore and play with them. Join them in the treetops of Yorkshire’s most magical adventure playground, Skelf Island.

Ingenious treetop nest structures connected by rope bridges, slides, nets, and climbing equipment will allow the Skelves to take young visitors on an adventure like no other.

Skelf Island is included in House & Gardens and Gardens tickets.

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Skelf Island Activity Sheet
How much does it cost to visit Skelf Island?
Access to Skelf Island is included in a Gardens Ticket. Castle Howard has a Friends Membership scheme, so if you think you’ll visit more than three times year it is great value for money to become a member. If you want to ‘try before you buy’ you can upgrade your day admission ticket to an annual membership and we’ll refund you the difference. 
Is Skelf Island accessible?

The design for Skelf Island Adventure Playground centres around a series of birds nests that sit high up in the trees. It was designed and granted planning permission in this way to utilise an area of land over the Great Lake that could support high structures, whilst allowing much of the ground, vegetation and natural habitat below to remain intact.

The interconnecting high walkways bridges, nets, slides and apparatus has been designed so that adults are able to access any area of the play equipment and can enjoy the experience with young people who may need additional support to play and explore. We believe that most young person with additional needs can be supported to go around the treetop route, this is with the exception of wheelchair users who will not be able to access the high level play equipment. We have installed additional play equipment specifically designed to be used by wheelchair users, including a wheelchair accessible swing and some additional accessible pathway.

There is an accessible toilet and baby change facilities at the Boathouse Cafe near to Skelf Island.

If you have any specific additional needs that we can help advise on please contact our team via 

Is there an age restriction?
There is no age restriction, just a brave restriction!