The village of Danby can be found in the Esk Valley slightly north-west of Whitby. It is home to the Moors National Park Centre, which is free to enter and which has events happening throughout the year.
While we were there they were in the middle of the Easter events programme for children. This included kite-making workshops, geo-caching for beginners, workshops on building birds’ nests and, of course, an Easter egg hunt.
There is usually a small charge for such events, to cover materials, but adults accompanying paying children may watch for free. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at some of the events.
There’s also an adventure playground here and several different nature trails as well as the Woolly Sheep Café. There are free toilets available, including disabled toilets when the visitor centre is open. The car park cost us £4.50 for over 2 hours.
The Danby manorial estate was the home of the Neville family – that’s Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (the kingmaker) rather than Phil and Gary Neville who once played football (soccer) for Manchester United.
Ralph was thirty years older than John, so there was a considerable age gap between them. It was John Neville who went on to become Lord Latimer, or the 3rd Baron Latimer.
A 2-mile circular walk leaves the Moors National Park Centre across some incredibly muddy fields to Danby Castle and back, and it usually takes about an hour. Apparently the path never dries out. It crosses a track that services the Esk Valley Railway, but then it does join a road.
Here you can turn right or left, both ways lead to the castle, both are uphill. This is described as a “fairly gentle ascent” … they lie. If you turn right at this road, coming back you get a much better view of Duck Bridge. We turned right, and then left again onto another muddy path across fields.
The castle was never intended to be a fortified building. It was built in the 14th century by Lord Latimer as a glorified farmhouse in order to demonstrate his immense wealth. At one time Latimer owned the land as far as the eye can see from here.
The building itself is in ruins now, but an events venue adjoins it that can be hired out for weddings. A sign outside says that groups should call in advance. We think this is to arrange an event rather than view the castle as they’re not open to the public, as we found out. Either way, there were no no-dogs signs so we were able to take a sneaky peek.
We continued on back down the road towards the visitor centre again and we did indeed get a very good view of Duck Bridge. This 14th-century packhorse bridge used to be called Danby Castle Bridge.
However, it was rebuilt in the 18th century by one George Duck and it’s believed the bridge was renamed after him. The bridge stayed open to vehicles right up until 1993, when a ford across the River Esk was built.
The Neville family coat of arms can still be seen at the top of the bridge and there are, apparently, some stepping stones across the river on the other side of the bridge. We didn’t see these, but while the river was probably swollen, it wasn’t anywhere near its deepest when the river is in true flood.
By the end of our visit we’d walked more than 3 miles instead of the advertised 2 miles and it had taken us more than three hours. We did, however, burn around 670 calories and we walked more than 15,000 steps.