Recharge your batteries with visits to North Yorkshire's top 10 Twixmas treats
Twixmas is the time between Christmas and New Year – when it can be tempting to bing on left-overs and box sets.
Phillip Spurr, programme director for place and resources at Ryedale District Council, said: “Here in Ryedale, an area famous for its beauty and tranquillity, we’re encouraging everyone to get out and about to help their minds and bodies recover this Twixmastime.
" There are many ways to blow the cobwebs away in the fresh air to refresh our bodies (and work off the festive excess), or to reconnect with the magic of the natural world and restore our spirits.”
North Yorkshire’s Twixmas top 10
Castle Howard’s Into the Woods from now until Monday January 2
The stately home’s grand rooms are transformed into a magic kingdom of happily ever-afters and faraway wonderlands. For those who simply want to wander at a gentler pace, Castle Howard’s parkland paradise, cafés and festive farm shop are also open.
Pre-booking is essential at www.castlehoward.co.uk/whats-on/christmas-at-castle-howard
Flamingo Land zoo until Sunday January 1
For animal magic, there’s no better time to visit the zoo – which is guardian to more than 140 species, many of which are critically endangered or extinct in the wild like the world’s smallest tiger, the Sumatran, or the Black Rhino.
You can even go behind-the-scenes, meeting zookeepers at feeding time during special talks (free); enjoying close encounters with snakes and frogs during meet-a- creature handling sessions (free); or helping to feed the animals – including playful penguins.
Children can also let off steam in the play areas and kids’ rides.
Pre-booking recommended at www.flamingoland.co.uk
Northwood Trail, near York, Friday December 30 and Monday January 2
Follow the enchanted woodland fairy trail, unique in the UK, to the doors of the world’s only fairy museum, hidden in a woodland glade with its mysterious 11 relics. http://www.northwoodtrail.co.ukPre-booking essential at www.northwoodtrail.co.uk
Rievaulx Abbey from now until Sunday January 1
Once one of Europe’s greatest monasteries, the abbey ruins seem a million miles away from the real world in their wooded valley and English Heritage opens the doors specially during Twixmas for any souls needing a spiritual retreat.
Helmsley Castle, open on Friday December 30 and Sunday December 31
It’s easy to imagine the knights and ladies from Age of Chivalry coming to life in the romantic medieval ruins.
Explore the eerily-empty state apartments, once resounding with masques and music, with its views over the pleasure parkland and tournament field.
Dalby Forest from now until Saturday December 31
With its Gruffalo and Superworm trails, play areas and 8,500 acres of traffic-free walking and cycling trails, Dalby Forest is a giant adventure playground perfect for everyone in the family during winter – there’s even forest yoga to reclaim your Zen.
St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church in Pickering
Forget Banksy or Marvel’s comic art, 500 years ago artists created one of Europe’s most important medieval masterpieces on the walls of the church recreating – in colossal scale - stories from the Harrowing of Hell and St George’s battle with the dragon, full of drama and vibrant colour, like magnificent medieval manga.
It’s not the only church in the area with amazing treasures: Byland Abbey, Lastingham Priory, St Gregory’s Minster in Kirkdale, and Stonegrave Minster all have unique masterpieces and artefacts to discover within their hallowed walls. They’re free to visit and open daily.
For many people, winter walking is the best route to relaxation and re-energising, and to help those planning a holiday hike, experts from Ryedale Rambler’s Association have pulled together their Twixmas top three.
Each walk caters to a different mood or fitness level; all are suitable for winter weather conditions and all start from Ryedale’s market towns, within easy reach of a wide range of services and facilities open from now until Saturday December 31.
“Surrounded by stunning scenery, with only wildlife to distract you, a winter walk is a great opportunity to take time out from everyday life and share some quality time with your loved ones. Even better, it’s free,” said Penny Hudson, from Ryedale Ramblers.
“Ryedale is blessed with thousands of miles of walking trails, so it’s easy to find freedom and fresh air aplenty here. We’ve chosen to base our three walks around market towns to take advantage of family-friendly facilities – and of course, pubs and tea-rooms – but there are also many routes starting from villages like Welburn, or country parks like Castle Howard.
"It’s become a winter pilgrimage for many people seeking peace and quiet: a ‘blow the cobwebs away’ hike between Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey along the Cleveland Way National Trail, through ancient woodland into the secluded valley of the River Rye.
Leave around 3 hours for the walk; route details: https://www.alltrails.com/en-gb/explore/trail/england/north-yorkshire/helmsley-and-rievaulx-abbey
Take a happy history tour of Helmsley on this lazy amble that’s also ideal if your party includes pushchairs and wheelchairs. You’ll pass by the pretty beck, the imposing castle, the magnificent walled gardens and of course, wander through the marketplace, charmingly bedecked for Christmas and famous for its fascinating and friendly independent stores, eateries and galleries.
Malton is as old as the City of York with a history stretching back to Roman times. On this easy, circular riverside walk, you get the chance to explore some of Malton’s ancient landmarks, passing by medieval Saint Mary's Priory and the places where the Roman fort and old Norman castle once stood. Route details: https://www.alltrails.com/en-gb/explore/trail/england/north-yorkshire