A Castle tour of Britain


welsh castle
Mr A at Caerphilly Castle

Without sounding like heritage nerds, as a family we love castles! They are great for family days out and what better place to explore them than on your doorstep as Britain has some amazing ones on offer.   Our favourites so far have been Raglan Castle, Carreg Cennen, Caerphilly and Castle Coch and we plan to visit a lot more this summer. I thought we would put together a wish list of castles we want to visit as a family (I have already been to Edinburgh and Stirling but loved them so much they go list).

family adventure
Castle Coch - one of our favourites 

Visitors and locals alike can absorb themselves in Britain’s rich history by visiting some of the many castles around the country where the past is kept alive. Touring Britain by travelling from castle to castle will let you take in all the main attractions and some of Britain’s finest scenery. Here is a glimpse of some of the finest castles that you should include in your itinerary.

Dover Castle, Kent

There has been a fortification on the site since the Iron Age, but the present castle was begun in the century after the Norman conquest. The Great tower was added in the 1180s for Henry II and most of the rest added by Henry III. The castle was remodelled in the 18th century to equip it for modern warfare.

Visitors to the ‘Key to England’ will enjoy the magnificent buildings, the secret wartime tunnels, the story of the Dunkirk evacuation and a re-enactment of life at the court of Henry II. The castle is open all-year-round and makes an exciting day out.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Built in 1385 to serve as a home and a defensive facility against French raiders, Bodiam is one of Britain’s finest late medieval castles. It has a classic quadrangular shape, with towers at the four corners and the gate, and is surrounded by a moat. It lacks a keep so residents were housed in chambers around the inside of the walls.

Bodiam Castle is nestled in gently rolling countryside that provides an idyllic setting. If you let your imagination run riot, you will be able to picture knights and their ladies and maybe great battles, but Bodiam’s history is less exciting as it never saw the great battles of some of the strategically more important Norman castles. Nevertheless, it is fun to explore and is open nearly all year round.

Arundel Castle, West Sussex

Overlooking the Arun river, construction of Arundel Castle began in the late 11th century, its oldest feature being a motte – an artificial mound rising over 30 metres above the dry moat. Henry II built much of the oldest part of the stone castle.

The castle is home to priceless art works, tapestries and antiques as well as wonderful collection of heraldry and armour. It is also set in magnificent grounds to complete a package that will delight any visitor. It is open from late March to November.

Inspiring Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Situated on a bend of the River Avon, Warwick Castle was first established by William the Conqueror in 1068 at a site that had been fortified by the Anglo-Saxons around 150 years earlier and was developed to become one of England’s finest medieval castles.

Behind the impressive walls, the visitor will find magnificently furnished state rooms. The strong of stomach can visit the Castle Dungeon (not for children under 10), while the Dragon Tower is fun for all ages. For those interested in siege warfare, Warwick has boasts the largest working trebuchet in the world. The castle is open all year round and you can use your Merlin Annual Pass or redeem Nectar points towards entry (just swipe your card at the gate).

Caernarfon Castle, Northwest Wales

Probably the best-known castle in Wales, Caernarfon was begun by Edward I in 1283 as a military stronghold, place and seat of government and as a symbol of English dominance. There had already been a motte-and-bailey castle on the site for 200 years. Now a World Heritage Site, the castle is simply an intimidating spectacle.

The castle boasts many imaginative walkways and exhibitions that will bring history alive for the visitor. It also houses the museum of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Wales’ oldest regiment. It is open to visitors all year round.

Carlisle Castle, Cumbria

Once an important Roman fort situated at the end of Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle Castle has dominated its surroundings for over 900 years, the Normans established a castle on the site to defend against marauding Scots. Not one of Britain’s most attractive castles, it does claim to have been the most besieged.

The castle has a fascinating interactive exhibition that reveals all its historical secrets and the dungeons with their ‘licking stones’ and folklore carvings are always a favourite. It is also home to Cumbria’s Military Museum. For some of the year the castle is only open at weekends, so it is important to check opening times before visiting.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Set high on a volcanic plug overlooking the city of the same name, Edinburgh Castle dominates the local skyline. There has been a royal castle on the site since the days of King David I in the 12th century, although most of the present buildings are of a later date. It has been besieged many times in its history, successfully and unsuccessfully.

Visitors are able to enjoy the splendour of the Great Hall and Royal Palace and can view Scotland’s stone of destiny and Crown Jewels. There is also a National war Museum and museums of two of Scotland’s most famous regiments – the Royal Scots and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. The castle is open all-year-round.

Socttish Castle
Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle, Stirling

One of Scotland’s largest and most important castles, Stirling sits atop a hill commanding the countryside for miles around. It has been besieged many times, the last in 1746 when Bonnie Prince Charlie failed in his attempt. Much of the castle today dates from the 15th and 16th centuries.

James V’s Palace at Stirling, which was completed in 1545, is one of the best-preserved Renaissance buildings in Britain and its magnificent interior is a treat for the eyes. Visitors can also see the old kitchens, the vaults and wonderful tapestries as well as taking in the museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Stirling is open to visitors all-year-round.

Alnwick, Northumberland

One of the largest inhabited castles in Europe, Alnwick is the residence of the Duke of Northumberland. It was built right after the Norman conquest and has undergone several renovations over the years. Open from late March to October, and visitors can enjoy the opulent state rooms, a fine art collection and the historical curios accumulated in the 18th century by Elizabeth, the 1st Duchess of Northumberland. Children will love the Knight’s Quest and only the stoutest of hearts will dare to explore the Lost Cellars.

Alnwick aka Hogwarts

Alnwick is a stunning castle in magnificent surroundings. Filmmakers love it – it has featured in a number of popular movies, most famously as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films – and it makes a perfect day out for the whole family. It is easily located too, around 60kms north of Newcastle along the A1.

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  1. we love castles too. Last year I got to visit Carcasonne which was fab.

    1. Yeah another Castle lover - they are great for the whole family - we love visiting new places

      Laura x

  2. Wow! The Bodiam Castle looks stunning!
    What an awesome place to visit

  3. I love visiting castles :)
    Castle Coch is a lovely one. We really liked Chepstow when we went. White Castle is another great one, so tranquil there! x

    Leanne - A Slice of My Life


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