As a fan of Merida, Aria was very excited for our latest adventure…
A day at Druids Temple near Ripon, hidden deep in North Yorkshire countryside. We (read I) promised her that we could go and find some fairies.
Located on the picturesque Swinton Estate, Druid’s Temple requires driving along some narrow but serene country road, including a beautiful ford. Over all the drive took just over an hour from Leeds, and actually the kids were awake the entire time and not one complaint; could have been the roller coaster like hills, I dunno.
When you arrive at the lane that heads to the ruins, you’ll find a turn off on the left, about two thirds of the way up, where you’ll be able to park up, use the loo, graba bite to eat in the cafe and hire a bike for the trials. (By the way, the loos are actually nice… not portaloos).
One thing we found while we were there was that you can stay there. There’s glamping yurts in the meadow, not far from the cafe, showers are next doors to the toilets and if yurts aren’t you things. there’s some tree cabins to rent out too. I had a quick google, it’s not cheap… sadly out of our budget anyway.
From the cafe it’s about 5 minutes to walk to the beginning of the trial, where there’s a map sign to tell you where you are. Admittedly it’s a bit hard to read as it’s all shades of plae on pale but there is a QR code, so that may give you more information. In all fairness the place isn’t hard to navigate and the 4G signal up there isn’t bad if you need maps to find your way.
To the right of the map sign is a woodland trial through tall trees with rock formations. When you get to the end of this trial, (which only take 10 minutes, if that), you’re greeted by the doorway to the Druids Temple. Luckily for us the sun was shining at just the right angle to light up the doorway like it was straight out of Narnia. Aria immediately started hunting “whisps like Merida”, running around and climbing the rocks. The temple is surrounded by woodland, man made rock formations and grassy trials.
Walking through the temple, you’ll find recreated vaults and alters, with another doorway to the back of the temple. Stepping through the rear door you’ll find a stone table with stone stools, in front of the entrance to a man made cave, which seems so much bigger from the outside. Plenty of places to climb and explore.
Back at the temple entrance (stood facing in to the temple), you’ll see some stacked stones above and behind the temple. The path to get there is just around the left of the temple; be warned, this path is quite steep and it was a bit muddy when we went due to rain the previous day. Worth the trek up there though because the view of the temple from above is second to none, I could have sat their for hours. I mean, look!
We somehow wiled away 6 hours without realising, just wandering, exploring and finding mushroom circles. Apparently those circles are where fairies live? It was definitely worth the drive up, and the kids want to go back so I’d say we found a winner. We also spotted some other places to visit on the way home.
The best bit about the whole day is that you only really need to pay for petrol to get there because there are plenty of places to have a picnic on a nice day. Cheap days out are always a bonus, right? Right!