Visiting Harlech Castle

If you are looking for somewhere to visit this half term, you could pay a visit to the magnificent Harlech Castle. The huge fortification is one of Edward the 1st’s Welsh giants that were designed to keep Wales enclosed under English rule, and is the subject of the famous Welsh Song ‘Men or Harlech’, which talks of a siege during the Wars of the Roses. Harlech is a fabulous place to visit and relive history, a formidable Welsh giant that has history pouring through every brick.

Harlech Castle has been a Welsh heritage site since 1986, but it was once much more difficult to access if you had mobility issues or a pushchair. I remember visiting Harlech in 2011 and couldn’t take Joe into the castle as the only access was steps. But the creation and opening of a new visitor centre, and an adjoining floating bridge means it is now accessible for all. The visitors centre has a rather lovely gift shop and cafe, with a terrace with stunning views across Snowdonia, and there is also a room where you can watch a film setting the scene for Harlech’s place in history.

The floating bridge

The visitors centre

Inside the castle there is evidence of the battering it has taken over the years, with a large number of cannonballs left in situ. Much of the castle is a now a ruin, left open to the elements, but this is what makes it fascinating for children and adults alike, as they can run and climb the battlements, looking out at the views that have captivated and terrified people throughout history.

Inside the towers of the gatehouse there are reconstructions and models showing how Harlech would’ve looked int he past, and telling of its history in both English and Welsh.

 

Outside the Castle grounds there is a lovely wooden playground that is safe and enclosed with a gate, the perfect place for little ones to enjoy an ice cream, with benches for adults to sit and enjoy the sea air and the wonderful views.

 

This October you can enjoy Civil War reenactments at Harlech Castle.

Dates
28 Oct – 29 Oct 2017

Times
11am – 4pm

Prices
Adult – £6.50
Family – £19.30 *
Senior citizens, students and children under 16 – £4.20
Member – Am ddim / free
Disabled and companion – Am ddim / free
*Admits 2 adults and up to 3 children under 16

Click here for more information.

Wolves in Wolves – Touring The North Route

This summer, the city of Wolverhampton has been overtaken by Wolves, beautiful decorated wolves. The #WolvesinWolves2017, is the largest public art event ever to take place in the city with 30 wolf sculptures located in and around the city centre. The wolves have been created by a range of artists that range from High Schools and University students, to renowned artists from around the world. The wolves are on display around the city, with two trails that you can access at your leisure, or through an organised wolf walk. On Wednesday night I took my boy Joe Luca on the Northern wolf walk which lasted for two hours and took in wolves at The Molineaux, West Park, Marstons/Banks brewery and St Peter’s Square.

The organised wolf walks are a great way to see the wolves and learn a little about the design, inspiration and the artist. You get to find the out of the way wolves which may be a little harder to find if you don’t really know your way around Wolverhampton, and you can explore some of the amazing architecture and history of the city as you make your way around.

We were very lucky as the wonderful Wolverhampton Art Gallery (which houses an amazing collection of Pop Art) had agreed to stay open so we could explore their wolves gallery which contains two full sized wolves sculptures, and then a whole gallery of mini wolves, including a stunning design that had padlocks all around it’s neck.

 

The wolves are truly beautiful, with my personal favourite being ‘Sunset’ which is sponsored by Wolverhampton Speedway and is located on Darlington Street and is decorated with squirrels and wildlife. I also loved Flame that is located outside the offices of the Express and Star building, and Wolf Ver-Hamtpon, which is based at the Civic Centre and has been decorated with mayoral chains. Claude is the naughty wolf, he travels around the city, reappearing in different destinations.

The wolves will be auctioned after the exhibition ends on September 24th and is well worth a visit before then. For more information check out the website here.

Warwick Castle And The Knight’s Village

If you are looking to visit a castle this Summer, then you really need to take a trip to Warwick. Without doubt, Warwick Castle is one of the finest examples of an habitable castle in Britain, with beautiful state rooms, rising towers and battlements that you can climb and enjoy, and expansive grounds which, this summer, are housing a War of the Roses jousting arena and  a Horrible History play. Warwick Castle is a magical, mystical place that has over a 1000 years of history attached, and is a wonder for adults and children alike. And, what is even more exciting is that you can now stay in the Knight’s Village and expand your castle experience into an overnight stay.

The Knight’s Village

The Knight’s Village is set in the grounds of Warwick on the bank’s of the river Avon. The village is made up of Knight’s Lodges and glamping tents, and has it’s own car parking area and reception. The village also has a banqueting hall where you eat breakfast, and can also book in for dinner if you decide you want to eat onsite, although Warwick town is only a short walk away (around 10 minutes) and the helpful staff will recommend places to eat in the town.

The whole Village is wonderfully landscaped, with lodges all clearly numbered and easy to get to. Each lodge is warm and cosy, with central heating for days when the weather is not so good. We stayed in lodge 127, which had a double bedroom and a room with bunk beds, plus an extra pull out bed for the children. The lodges also have a bathroom/wetroom with a shower. Toiletries from Elemis are provided, as well as plenty of soft clean towels. The feel of the lodges is that they have been built to a high spec, and feel luxurious. There are tea and coffee making facilities in each room, as well as gorgeous ginger and chocolate cookies and shortbread – a really lovely touch.

What I really loved about the lodge was the little touches that added to the medieval experience. Above the double bed was a shield and ornamental swords that just fascinated the children. In the children’s bedroom was a Bayeaux style tapestry that virtually covered one wall. There were also objects of Hunter’s regalia and coats of arms in the room, giving the lodge an authentic feel.

In addition to the decor of the lodge, the grounds are just so idyllic and beautiful, with acres of grass giving a safe place for children to play games. Each lodge also has a terrace area where you can sit and relax, watching the sun going down on the River Avon.

But it is not all about peace and quiet. Each evening there are displays and entertainment along the banks of the river. Knight’s fighting duels with swords and axes, Princess school where you can learn about deportment and curtseying, and old fashioned toys and games to practice. There are archery lessons and lots of photo opportunities with the dashing knight’s. It is old fashioned fun and we loved it.

To find out more about a stay at the Knight’s Village, click here.

Warwick Castle Summer Fun

There is just so much to do with Warwick Castle. The inside of the castle is full of history and stories of the famous owners and inhabitants, from Warwick the KIngmakes, Fulke Greville and Henry the VIII. The Great Hall is truly magnificent, with suits of armour that delight young children. The Time Tower is a great way to learn about the history of the castle, from it’s early beginnings as a Fort belonging to Ethelfleda, the Lady of the Mercians, to modern times under the ownership of the Tussauds group.  For younger children, the Princess Tower lets children solve a puzzle, this is perfect for the under 8s.

Horrible History

One of the most popular areas with children is the Horrible History maze. You collect a book in order to collect the stamps at each different section of history. Each area has a reminder of horrible history, from a Viking ship, to Tudor stocks, right up to the trenches of World War one. Once you have collected the stamps you can then collect your reward from the Courtyard Shop.

The Horrible History theme continues with the Horrible History show, an hilarious look at the life and times of Warwick with appearances from Louis Walsh and Keith Lemon, along with rap, dance and very funny sketches.

The War of the Roses Jousting

A definite highlight this Summer is the War of the Roses joust which takes place in a specially built arena. You chose your side, from the Yorkists and Lancastrians, and then learn all about the key battles and characters of the Wars, from Richard III to Margaret of Anjou, from Henry Tudor to Elizabeth of York, all the time watching the exhilarating jousts which feature real feats of bravery, from flaming jousts, to riders who hang from their horses just attached by their stirrups. The joust is amazing entertainment, and a glorious history lesson all in one.

Food

The grounds are perfect if the day is sunny and you want to take a picnic, but if not the pizza and pasta restaurant is great. Set within the castle itself, the restaurant is self service buffet style, and hot and soft drinks are also included in the price. The staff are friendly and helpful, and were more than happy to provide plain pasta for my niece when we requested this.

Warwick Castle is the perfect family fun day out, with so much to do and learn. Definitely a one to visit this Summer.

To find out about admissions, opening times and events at Warwick Castle this summer, click here.