Warning signs for path at Castle Howard

Warning signs have been installed at the bottom of a footpath leading up to Ray Wood at Castle Howard following the designation of the incline as the UK’s first official ‘downhill rolling zone’ – a space where children and adults alike are invited to enjoy the simple pleasures of rolling down the grassy bank!

The designated rolling zone is 11m wide and a spectacular 126m long down the perfect incline for downhill rolling – sufficiently sloped to get a decent speed up, but not too steep as to lose control!  The width enables up to three children – or a child and an adult – to roll concurrently, making it ideal for informal racing.

“We are unaware of any official ski-slope style ratings for rolling hills, but would say that this one is an intermediary slope – perfect for children and adults alike to enjoy the pursuit,” says marketing manager, Rachel Underwood.  “We do have a second, much smaller slope in the Boar Garden, which is an ideal starter slope for younger children in an area often frequented by mother and toddler groups – no matter how young or old you are, you can roll to your heart’s content.”

By creating the rolling space, the team at Castle Howard are hoping that it will mark the start of more informal use of the 1000 acres of garden and forest.  “Our grounds are a space that are perfect for exploring – and we want all of our visitors to feel free to run, laugh, play and make the most of this stunning setting,” adds Rachel.  “Castle Howard is a family home, and generations of Howard children have played inside and out.  This isn’t a library where visitors have to remain studiously silent, but a place that comes alive with the sound of fun and laughter both within the house itself and in the grounds.”

The slope was chosen not only for the incline, but because this stretch of grass is generally clear of debris, with the exception of the occasional mole hill!

Signage has been installed at the top of Ray Wood Rolling Zone to mark the start, with warning signs placed at the bottom of the slope to alert those ascending to be aware of rollers.  “This is designed to be a fun and safe pursuit, not a game of Donkey Kong,” concludes Rachel.

Rolling techniques

There are two traditional ways of rolling down the hill. 

The easiest is lateral rolling, where your body is straight with your arm tucked in.  After a quick push off, momentum can carry you some distance, though it is common for rollers to veer off a straight line and come to a stop when their body is no longer perpendicular to the slope.  An emergency stop can be implemented by simply sticking out a leg or an arm.

The second, and more difficult but often faster technique, is the snowball roll, where a forward roll (or roly poly) is repeated, gathering speed as the roller heads down the hill.  This requires a little more practice, but can be far more accurate in terms of direction, thus enabling a much longer distance to be travelled.  It can, however, be more difficult to stop.

Other downhill techniques include the rolling cartwheel, which can look spectacular, but is almost impossible to control at any speed.

Notes to editors

Some Guinness World Records for rolling include:

  • The most people to roll down a hill in one hour is 570 and was achieved at an event organised by The National Trust (UK) in Polesden Lacey, Surrey, UK on 26 July 2014.
  • The greatest distance travelled forward rolling by a team in one hour is 10,163.66 m (33,345 ft 3 in) and was set by 12 members of the Mid Island Gymsports (all New Zealand) at the Energy Events Centre, Rotorua, New Zealand, on 16 September 2008. The team completed 169 laps. Each lap was completed in relay and measured 60.14 m.
  • Ashrita Furman performed 8,341 forward rolls in 10hr 30min over 19.67km 12miles 390yards from Lexington to Charleston, Massachusetts, USA on April 30, 1986.
  • Ashrita Furman performed one mile of gymnastically correct forward rolls in 19 min. 11 sec. around Victory Field Track in Forest Park, Queens, New York, USA on November 25, 2000.

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Issued by: Jay Commins, Pyper York
Date: 12 August 2016
Telephone: 01904 500 698
Email: jay@pyperyork.co.uk

About Us

Castle Howard is one of Britain's finest houses & gardens. Castle Howard is a magnificent 18th century residence set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape in the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of North Yorkshire. Visit and enjoy world-renowned collections, stunning architecture and inspiring family stories. Relax amid idyllic gardens, enjoy woodland and lakeside walks, and let off steam on the adventure playground. Castle Howard's changing programme of events and exhibitions offers something for all the family, as well as an excuse to visit time and time again. Many people contribute to the upkeep of Castle Howard and with this comes the challenge of securing it for future generations. Restoration and conservation work to the house and across the 10,000 acre estate, including nearly 200 listed buildings and monuments, is ongoing.