The gorgeous Lyndsey Henderson gives us a bit of pre half term inspiration to get out and about and do some exploring…
Half term is approaching and as parents we look left and right to see what might sound like a good time to ALL. Here is a solution for the bold and brave….
Castles hold magic within their oversized walls. They have secret histories to discover and physical challenges to energise the soul, here are my top 5 castles within easy visiting distance of Bath…
Go BIG – Berkeley Castle the best dressed and biggest castle on the list.
Travel time: Well it does depend on where in Bath you start but I would say between 1 – 1.5hrs would cover it (so long as you are not attempting London Road in rush hour which is never a good idea!).
Cost: £££ the most costly on the list but they do allow you to return as many times as you like in the following year if you do gift aid. They also host a range of really rather engaging activity days and it is a complete day out.
Car parking: Yep. Right to the door.
Food: Always a picnic for us as I try to capture the famous five adventures of my youth; lashing of ginger beer and boiled eggs all round. There is a small cafe which only has outside seating, serves soup and jacket potatoes and cake.
Our Experience: Archery with a knight was best day out of the summer. Wizarding at Halloween was spooktacular and half term dragon hunting such fun. It is also used as a film location as on our first visit we found ourselves on a film set with 100 actors in historical dress, with weapons, horses and fire!
History: Built to keep out the Welsh. 1154. The Family are the only English family still in existence in England that can trace its ancestors from father to son back to Saxon times.
Look out for: Dungeons and dress up area. Added Extra – butterfly garden.
*NOTE OK so this one is closed until April so bump it to the Easter things to do list, sorry!
Love it local: Sham castle.
A fascination and quite frankly if you live in Bath and do not know the legend of this local delight you need to get educated and get visiting.
Travel time: This one depends on how you travel there. To do it right you should have a nice long (for small legs) walk up from the city centre so you can fully appreciate the views and its position.
Car parking: nope. You need to find another way.
Food: Zero options
Our Experience: There is very little to actually do here so you need your imagination packed. We attempted to create amusing photos with cartwheels and perspective shots.
History: A towering wall was erected in 1762 and renovated in 1921. Local legend says it was built as a bet to prove a rich landowner actually could build a castle.
Look out for: Flying golf balls.
It is a classic: Old Wardour Castle
Fun to say over and over again and a walled in castle experience so can let kids go free range.
Travel time: About the same as Berkeley castle but completely other direction and quite a lot of windy roads so you do start to question if Sat Nav is really having a joke and you will end up nowhere good.
Cost: ££ English Heritage so can feel good about the money going towards keeping history alive.
Car parking: yep. Short skip up hill to entrance.
Food: The tiny shop has a coffee machine and ice cream fridge (they know what they are doing). No real food anywhere nearby so picnic up. On nice day spread out a blanket and lets kids run around. On a cold or wet day huddle in a tidy room near top of castle which you half way into luncheon discover used to be the lav many moons ago.
Our Experience: Idyllic. Lots of fun rooms to explore, it is a ruin so don’t expect furnishings or roofs.
History:1 4th century lightly fortified luxury residence
Look out for: The audio tour as it brings the stories to life and tells you all about the toilets where not to picnic.
* NOTE Only open Weekends at half term.
Princess and Prince Perfect: Nunney Castle
What makes this small little delight is the correct elements a castle should have including a smashing moat.
Travel Time: 30 mins roughly
Cost: FREE but not visiting the Castle and Moat cafe would be an oversight so take cash for cake.
Car parking: yep. It is small but it has one.
Food: Castle and Moat cafe is locally owned and has some good looking cake on offer.
Our experience: It is a quickie of a castle. Not really much to see or do but with some imagination and some props it is lovely.
History: Medieval. 1370s. Built by Sir John de la Mare, a local knight. Modernised in the late 16th century, then besieged and damaged by the Parliamentarians in 1645, during the English Civil War.
Look out for: The new bridge. They had an opening ceremony for it.
The Ghost Castle: Farleigh Hungerford
You need to find the magic here as not much of it is left hence it is a ghost of a castle.
Travel time: 20 mins approx.
Cost: £ English Heritage but Bath residents with Discovery card get BOGOF.
Car parking: yep.
Food: English Heritage usual with few drinks and sugar for kids.
Our Experience: I admit I have not been for a while as I went lots as I thought it was the only local castle nearby so for many years we went for a run about when the wind blew in right direction. Wind not blown us that way for a while so do let me know whats new out there.
History: 14th Century. Fortified mansion
Look out for: The gruesome history told via picture boards.
Final word: Enjoy your time wandering through history and inspiring young minds. If it just seems a bit much for you then go and watch The Kid Who Would Be King and let history in via the big screen.