Lockdown 2 – Where’s open in and around York for exercise

Rowntree Park

Here we go again….Lockdown Part 2 – the sequel that none of us wanted – is launching in early November, and with it at least a month of new restrictions on what we can do. The good news for those of us with slightly older kids is that at least the schools are staying open this time (let’s just take a moment to say a HUGE thank you to all the teachers who’ll be saving us from the horrors of homeschooling). The bad news is that most of the things we love doing with our children, from days out to eating out or taking them to their favourite dance/swimming/football class, will be off-limits for the time being. Many of the visitor attractions around York will be closing, including (but sadly not limited to): York Castle Museum, Askham Bryan Wildlife Park, Murton Park, York Army Museum, JORVIK Viking Centre, JORVIK Dig, York’s Chocolate Story and the National Railway Museum. You can, however, book your tickets ahead for many attractions such as the Railway Museum, for when they open in December. Why not book in advance and give yourselves something to look forward to?

One silver lining is that outdoor exercise is still permitted (as long as you follow the guidelines) – very important for keeping ourselves sane and healthy, and letting the kids run off some energy – and there are some lovely places for you to go in and around York and get some fresh air. Here are some of our favourites.

Rowntree Park

Rowntree Park

Play areas remain open for now, and Rowntree Park has two. There’s plenty of space to run, scoot and play hide-and-seek, plus woods to explore and gardens to run around. York’s other parks remain open but check opening hours before you travel.

York Museum Gardens

York Museum Gardens

Right in the heart of York city centre, York Museum Gardens is a beautiful spot for some fresh air, river views and squirrel spotting. They remain open for now, just observe social distancing measures.


Dalby Forest

Where better to escape the real world and stretch your legs than the stunning surroundings of Dalby Forest? It remains open for outdoor exercise, and as always there’s no admission fee – just pay to park.

Castle Howard Skelf island adventure playground

Castle Howard

Castle Howard’s gardens, grounds and adventure playground (Skelf Island) will remain open, as will the farm shop, coffee shop and Boathouse Cafe (weekends). The pizza oven and marshmallow toasting will continue on weekends too. Pre-booking is required.

Beningbrough Hall summer

Beningbrough Hall, Gallery & Gardens

Good news – Beningbrough will remain open for exercise and wellbeing. It’s pre-bookings only, so book your tickets by 3pm the day before. The garden, parkland, play area, toilets and restaurant (takeaway only) will be open (Fri – Sun, 10am to 3.30pm in Nov).

Harlow Carr lockdown

Harlow Carr Gardens

Another stunning place to get some fresh air, let the kids run about and see the seasons change is Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. Pre-book your tickets in advance.

Burnby Hall Gardens

Burnby Hall Gardens

Burnby Hall Gardens, in Pocklington, is a popular place for families to visit and it will remain open during lockdown. The cafe will be open during limited hours for takeaway food. Pre-booking is required.

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal

The beautiful grounds of Fountains Abbey will be open during lockdown, but make sure you book in advance. The abbey, water garden, play area, visitor centre restaurant (takeaway only) and toilets will be open.

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey will remain open, but you need to pre-book your parking space as before. Takeaway drinks and snacks will be available.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

You can continue to enjoy the 500 acres of countryside at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with open air areas open. There will be takeaway refreshments available. Booking required.

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