Chirk Castle, Nr Wrexham, Wales
We have had a brilliant day today. The girls have finally got to an age where a full day out with them is good fun, they can manage without a nap and enjoy exploring.
After visiting Speke Hall yesterday and joining the National Trust again, we decided to make the most of it and visit another National Trust place today. We thought about Dunham Massey, Tatton Park and Erdigg (all within an hour drive) but decided upon Chirk Castle mainly because their halloween activities had started for half term, neither of us had been before and it also said there was an opportunity to build a den which is one of the 50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4and we have started completing our list!
We arrived at Chirk Castle and immediately loved it. We spent an hour building dens with logs, twigs and trees. There was a ‘Castle’ built with logs, dens with chairs in, a log sea-saw, and adventure stepping stones. The girls would have been pleased if we had just stopped there.
If you are local, this bit is completely free and outside of any area you need to pay for.
After dragging the girls away from their dens and castle, by promising them they could carve a pumpkin, we actually made our way into the Courtyard of the farm buildings. Here we carved a pumpkin, made a necessary 3 toilet stops and topped up on drinks.
The Castle is a ten minute walk up hill (with toddlers) maybe five without. You can also get a mini bus up which runs at very regular intervals. We had to persuade the girls to miss the playground as we knew we had to get back home by 4 for a party (3 actually – we were late by mistake) but it looked like good fun for ten minutes or so. The views on the way up were stunning and we had good fun playing with shadows in the autumn sunshine.
We had intended to go on the ghost walk that was on for half term, but seeing the Castle at the top of the hill, the girls all decided they were ‘too scared of ghosts’ and wanted to go round the Castle instead.
The National Trust has really upped its game in the last few years and have started to make their visitor attractions much more interactive for children. The ladies at the entrance to the Castle took the girls to one side and told them they had to try and find the toy wolves in each room. It made all the rooms really interesting for them, and kept them engaged. A simple idea but it really worked. Can you spot the wolf in the photo below??
In some rooms there was also fancy dress to play with, and there seemed to be much less things they weren’t allowed to touch.
We managed to find dragon costumes
and chain mail to be actual knights.
There was also a family room at the top of a tower where the girls could do some colouring, make jigsaws (of knights naturally) and build a castle. I was incredibly impressed that at every turn there was something else for them to do. In places like this there is usually only a ‘token’ child activity. This seemed to have been designed with children in mind.
After the Castle we had planned on eating our picnic in the sunshine but the rain had started to fall, although only lightly. We found a very convenient step to eat our sandwiches on, just under the entrance. Quite grand really! We also threatened to leave the girls in the stocks if they didn’t eat them (not really…)
I thought we had probably exhausted all the Castle had to offer at that point, but we thought we would have a quick wander through the formal gardens. The sun came out again as we went into the gardens and it was time for some running and rolling down hills.
The formal gardens right next to the Castle also lead onto some fantastic landscaped gardens, with woodland walks, a pergola and beautiful flowers. For ours, it was just another fabulous space to run around in. On another visit we would definitely spend more time here exploring, but as you can see from the photos it was beautiful and golden.
We had run out of time at this point, so we left vowing to go back. We hadn’t even been in the woods and there was so much more of the gardens to see. Thank you Crick Castle, we will be recommending you to all our friends.
For another review of Crick Castle, please see this review by Mummy of Boy Girl Twins.