For those of you who didn’t know and haven’t looked at a map, Bristol is right across the River Severn from Wales. Cardiff (the capital of Wales) is only about 25 miles from here. Many people commute between Bristol and Wales every day. Sophie even has classmates who speak Welsh at home with their families! So we thought it was nigh time we ventured west and started exploring Wales!
We first thought of heading to Cardiff Castle, a much more popular tourist attraction; but one of the things we’ve learned by living everywhere is to save some local tourism for when we have visitors. If not, then we not only get tired of touring places we’ve already seen when we take our visitors, but we also get tired of paying for these attractions again and again. Sometimes once you’ve been to an attraction once or twice, you’ve just had enough! So we thought Cardiff Castle would be a fun one to save for when our parents or family visit sometime.
Instead, we saw that not too far from Cardiff was a town called Caerphilly and its claim-to-fame is a large, medieval castle. In fact, Caerphilly castle is the second-largest castle in the UK (second to Windsor Castle).
Caerphilly Castle did not disappoint. In fact, all three of us thoroughly enjoyed it
The castle still has both the outer and inner moat (And they have swans!)
On the bridge over the moat, about to enter the castle
Caerphilly Castle was an excellent tourist attraction. It is a great mix of history and fun. We got 50% off admission due to our English Heritage passes (we get half-price at Welsh and Scottish sites).
One of the first things we encountered was the Dragon’s Lair. It is a beautiful audio and visual attraction that tells us the ancient story of dragons in love at Caerphilly. (Because of course, dragons are inherently attracted to castles). You can read the Cadw Dragon’s Tale here.
Then we took to walking around and exploring. No one can miss the big ‘leaning tower’. This tower once held the kitchen and started falling over in the 17th century but never fully fell over. It now leans more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The above is a wooden statue of the Marquess of Bute, the man who in the 1920s started spending over a hundred thousand pounds of his own money to start restoring the medieval ruins.
Now enjoy the shots of us exploring this awesome castle:
While we were there, we were unable to access a few of the public areas due to a movie filming. I asked what movie and the ticket lady told me it was some Netflix show about King Arthur coming out next year. While we were on the first floor of the main gatehouse, they were filming right below us and we could hear them. We saw actors walking around too. Cool! As I looked around the castle, I couldn’t help but think it really was a perfect location for a movie set!
Sophie in a maze they had at the back, she had a blast going through it.
We spent about 2 hours walking around the castle. Climbing up and down ancient stone circular staircases (that were wet, too! Slippery!) and exploring much of the castle. It was so neat! Then we had a nice picnic lunch on the grounds and then went nuts in the fabulous gift shop – Christmas shopping for my nieces and nephews has started!
This is exactly what we envisioned when planning a move to England – just a random Sunday with no plans and so we were able to hit the road, explore an 800-year-old castle, and be home in about 5 hours total – still with lots of time before supper!
(I keep having to remember to say ‘supper’ and not ‘dinner’, because ‘dinner’ is lunch….. damn upper-Canadian lingo!)
The history and adventure that we can enjoy steps from our house is amazing! We love it!