Country Kids: Castle Explorers In Caerphilly Castle

At around lunchtime this Saturday, the sun started to break through the clouds and the temperature rose to a balmy 5°C. This could only mean one thing: pack a picnic and time to turn into explorers!

Wales is famed for its castles and we're very lucky that we've got a good selection near us. We've taken The Boy to Castell Coch (where we got married) and to Cardiff Castle, both of which he loved. However, neither are ruined enough to really go clambering on. As a result we headed over to Caerphilly Castle, which is somewhere that I only went to a few times as a child.

Built in the 13th Century by Gilbert de Clare (Lord of Glamorgan), Caerphilly Castle is the second largest castle in Britain after Windsor Castle. History websites inform me that it is 'a double-skinned fortress surrounded by large-scale water defenses', i.e. it's got an inner and an outer moat, with lakes on two sides as well. It's also the first castle in Britain to have been built with the concentric ring system, changing the basic template of future castles.

However, the most intriguing bit about Caerphilly Castle is the leaning tower.

country kids caerphilly castle 1

The south-east tower is astounding. Every child in south Wales will have a photograph of them trying to push the tower back up to vertical. It was during the Civil War that the damage to the tower happened, which means that it leans at 10° (greater than the Leaning Tower of Pisa) with the most gigantic crack, wide enough for The Boy to stand in!

The greatness of Caerphilly Castle is marred by the fact that it was never able to fulfill it's destiny as a large castle or fortress. The threat of invasion (which had seen its building) passed quickly, and it had one last fleeting chance at being an active castle in the 14th Century. Then it fell to ruin until the Bute family acquired it in 1776, the third and fourth Marquesses cleared and restored it in the 19th century and the lakes were flooded by the state in the 1950s.

country kids castle explorer

What it's meant is that there are a plethora of ruined walls, towers and spiral staircases to explore. And even better is that CADW (the organisation in charge of maintaining it) hasn't roped every section off, allowing for little children to practise their knightly deeds and to defend the honour of south Wales!

country kids castle explorers 2

The castle is full of passages in the thick walls, spiral staircases, great halls and doorways to scamper through, as well as the most phenomenal view over the town and beyond into the Rhymney Valley. It's a definite site for visitors to the area, and I think this was the first of many explorations!

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  1. says

    Now this is a castle my gang would love to visit. I love the bit of history you have added, it is really interesting and puts the pictures into context. I have a feeling The Boy will want to go back here again, he looks so happy clambering up the walls there, a proper little boy! An absolutely delightful Country Kids post, thank you for linking.

  2. says

    This looks like a beautiful castle. I love history like this and love wandering around castles. I only caught a glimpse of Cardiff castle when I was last there about 9 Yeats ago but it looked really impressive. Looks like a brilliant day out and the Boy looks like he may round around the entire thing 🙂

  3. says

    i enjoy visiting castles and must take the boys to some soon. i really enjoyed this post because of the brief history of the castle which you have included which was very interesting (thank you).
    lovely selection of photos – the light you have managed to capture against the leaning tower is so sparkly and the boy looks so small against the size of all that looks like a great way to spend a saturday afternoon

  4. says

    Looks, and sounds, like a fantastic place to visit.
    I adore the sunlight on the photo of The Boy pushing up the south-east tower. Really great shot.
    I'm sure I visited here when I was little, I'll have to search through the photo albums.

  5. says

    Caerphilly Castle is a great one to visit. I have so many fond memories of it. I do think CADW look after their castles brilliantly. They preserve but allow visitors to really experience the ruins too.

  6. says

    Lovely pictures. I always have great fun exploring old ruins and castles. I love how you've included some history as I'm a big fan of the history of ruins. This is somewhere I'm adding to my ever growing list of places to take M.

  7. says

    This looks like a lovely day out. We also like to visit Caerphilly Castle and have been to a couple of weddings there. I have (obviously) seen Cardiff Castle- but have never been inside it. No idea why not! We went to Carew Castle this week for our Country Kids.

  8. says

    Ooooh sounds good – I read your write-up with interest as I research and review various family days out for Away with the Kids – this sounds like a fab one!

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