Our weekend in Wales almost feels like it was forever ago, but it was only a couple of weeks ago. When I was planning our trip to North Wales I knew I had to haul the family around at least one Welsh Castle. I have a thing for castles! I decided we should explore Caernarfon Castle with the kids.
Don’t tell them but eventually I am hoping to instill an interest and love of history in them (the kids). They don’t seem to be buying it … so far. I mean, to them, I was a child ‘in the olden days’!
I really wanted to get to see as much of the Welsh countryside as I could. Being able to look at the scenery as we drive past is one of the main reasons we love road trips. I tend to plan activities that are a little spread out, but not too far apart that the kids can get bored between activities.
You might think I am joking when I say that I plan our road trips with military precision. Ask my family, I am not! I guess it stems from my former life as a PA and making every minute count when planning travel! It could also just be that I love to travel. So even if it’s just a short weekend break in Wales, I try to make the absolute most of every minute I can.
We’d had an early start to the day to get to the Snowdon Mountain Railway for our 11.00 train. Although we ended up arriving there a bit early so were done by about 13.00.
We considered stopping for lunch afterwards, but in the end we decided to stuff a packet of crisps in our faces and carry on going! Next on
my our list was Caernarfon Castle which is located in Caernarfon, Gwynedd in North West Wales. It turned out it was only 15 minutes from Llanberis.
Visiting Caernarfon Castle
Also known by the anglicized name of Carnarvon Castle, it is a stunning example of a medieval castle.
There has been a castle on the site of Caernarfon Castle since the 11th Century. In 1283 King Edward I of England replaced the original structure with the huge stone castle that still stands today. Most of the internal structures have gone. However, the actual walls, gates and towers of the original castle still stand today.
The castle itself is amazing. When you drive up to it, the sheer height and thickness of the walls makes you wonder how they managed to build something so large and solid. I could be wrong but I often wonder if it’s even possible to build structures like that these days.
In case you missed it, I have a thing about castles! And history. But I won’t bore you anymore with that.
What Is It’s Modern Historical Significance?
Cadw (The Welsh equivalent of the English Heritage (I think), maintain Caernarfon Castle. However, it is still owned by Her Majesty The Queen.
One of the most important events to take place at Caernarfon Castle in modern history is that it was where the investiture of Prince Charles took place, when he became the Prince Of Wales, in 1969. The cushion that he knelt on is on display.
Is Caernarfon Castle Child Friendly?
Short answer: Yes!
As with so many of the tourist attractions we go to in the UK, they have taken into consideration the main factors of going out with kids:
- How can we educate the kids?
- How can we make it fun for them? and
- How can we make it safe for them?
The one thing I would say is that there are certain places where the circular stone staircases up inside the towers are a bit steep and slippery. Kids do need to take care, and be careful. There is a rope to hold on to in these places. This still didn’t console my husband who was a nervous wreck. I think he was envisaging the girls flinging themselves down the stairs or something. Fortunately that didn’t happen. This time.
With that said, I guess my advice would be that when exploring Caernarfon Castle with kids make sure that your kids just take it easy. Go slow. If the (the kids) are really little or a bit clumsy still, just make sure you have a firm grip on their hand. I definitely hung on to the 5 year old quite tightly. Okay, maybe that was for me more than for her.
Caernarfon Quest for Kids
On arrival the girls were given an map of significant points around the castle that they had to find and mark off. I love it when places like this do that. It encourages the kids to keep going and to explore the whole place. There are also different areas where they can actually touch things, or dress up as historical figures. It’s little touches like this that make going to places like this, much more enjoyable for everyone.
The castle itself has a number of Gates and Towers which you can explore. These all form part of the Caernarfon Quest to find the beasts hiding throughout the castle. These are the Granary Tower, the Black Tower, Well Tower, Chamberlain Tower, Queen’s Tower, Queen’s Gate and the Eagle Tower. Here’s how they girls got on:
Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum
It is also home to the Royal Welch (Welsh) Fusiliers Museum which I found fascinating. I really tried to get some good pics of the various war uniforms and medals on display. They have some really good displays that I’d love to have spent more time looking at, but it’s not something that appealed to the girls. They were more keen on searching for the next marker on their maps.
Another great touch that I absolutely love and respect is the fact that absolutely everything has both the Welsh language, and the English language. That goes for the sign posts, the visitor maps, and even the kids quest map. The welsh are very proud of their heritage, and so they should be.
Visiting Caernarfon Castle With Kids
Parking: We parked in the castle car park. I think it was £2.00 for a few hours.
Entrance Fees: For a family ticket of 2 adults and 3 children it costs £28.90, but please refer to their website for up to date information.
Visitor Information: For more information on Caernarfon Castle opening times, and other important visitor information, please check out the Cadw website.
If you are interested in castles, days out with kids, and the suitability of the two, save this for future reference. I would definitely go back to Caernarfon Castle with kids … but I might leave my husband in the car.
And of course, always finish off your visit to the castle, with a nice gin & tonic … or ice-cream. Whichever takes your fancy.