Bodelwyddan Castle and Park
Our adventures in North Wales have taken us to Bodelwydden Castle and Park, near Rhyl in Denbighshire. It is essentially a very grand Victorian house which was reconstructed between 1830 and 1832, although it was originally built as a Manor House in 1460. It is set in is set in a beautiful country park and home to the National Portrait Gallery in Wales. Parking was easy and free, and it was just a short walk up to the main entrance.
We arrived at approaching lunchtime so we paid our entry fee and went straight to the children’s play area for a picnic which is a 5-10 minute walk into the grounds. There were a few tables but in decent weather the ground is perfect for sitting on (it’s a good idea to take a picnic rug) and we had our butties whilst taking in the splendid view back across to the house. Our 2 and 4 year old ran around in delight at the train shaped play equipment and the climbing frame. There were also toddler swings so our 9 month old enjoyed a little play too. If you have older children (up to around 14 years old) there were plenty of things for them too.
We then made our way back to the house for a look round. Our eldest was excited that there were a number of activity booklets aimed at kids and drawing/colouring sheets to keep him entertained on the way round. Clip boards and colouring pencils were provided for free and we bought him a ‘special’ pencil from the gift shop for 40p which made him even more excited about getting started! The house is beautifully restored and maintained and full of things to see. We were greeted warmly by the museum guides who were very knowledgeable about the pieces of furniture and the history of the house. We loved that our youngsters had been catered for with an activity to do in each room that gave us parents a chance to actually look around, read information and talk to the guides. The children were encouraged to get involved in the hands on activities such as looking through kaleidoscopes, building towers out of wooden blocks and making afternoon tea in the bay window, and they were not disapproved of for touching things or making a noise.
Back outside in the grounds there is a maze and very pretty gardens and a woodland glade, which we spent a long time exploring together. In the courtyard there are giant games of chess, draughts and Connect Four and a lovely cafe which sells a good choice of food and drinks. In the grounds there is also life-size WW1 practise trench system (although we didn’t go to this as is it was further away). All in all we were entertained for nearly 4 hours which we felt was brilliant value for money given that entry is free for under 5’s and adult tickets are only £6.95 (5-18 year olds are £3). We wouldn’t hesitate to come back in the future when the kids are older as we know there will be loads for them to do.