At home with our friends from the North – Raglan Castle and Wye Valley   4 comments

It was our last day all together and at last the British summer delivered a day worthy of the name. Not exactly wall to wall sunshine but bright and most importantly dry. The weather was still too unpredictable to head into the mountains so I suggested another walk along the Wye Valley. We needed somewhere for the kids to let off some steam so we headed for another of our local castles at Raglan.

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Main entrance

It’s not quite as evocative or atmospheric as the riverside setting at Goodrich but it’s much bigger and has loads more in the way of tunnels, rooms and stairways to explore so we just let the kids run riot and we all headed off to explore at our own leisure.

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Across to the keep

It has the classic castle features of a proper keep with a spiral staircase and a moat as well as dungeons.

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Moat surrounding the Keep

The kids were in seventh heaven and seemed to enjoy the extra space that Raglan has. From my perspective it’s more fortified manor house than military installation with the decorative features and the moat designed to enhance rather than defend. It’s also less well presented than  Goodrich with only sporadic information boards and no audio guide. Still the views from the battlements were excellent and a fine time was had by all.

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Sugar Loaf and Ysgyryd Fawr from the battlements

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Mark and B explore the moat

There was even a swallow in her nest just a few inches away on one of the staircases (Mark, I’m sure will correct me if I’ve got the bird wrong!)

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Swallow nesting

We decided a picnic in the grounds was in order and shock/horror the sun came out and it was almost hot! The adults lazed in the sun while the kids collected grass and mud-stains rolling around in the dry moat. You can read Mark’s post about the castle here.

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Picnic in the grounds

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The Keep

I would have happily stayed all afternoon but there was a walk in the offing. We collected the school party and drove a few miles up the A40 to take in a walk around some of the interesting stuff that surrounds Symonds Yat. First are the caves culminating in King Arthur’s Cave (he gets about this bloke, caves, seats and castles all over the place). The kids of course thought these were great fun especially the small one they could all climb through.

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L and A go caving

Not exactly a huge cave system but enough to entertain the kids and find a few calcite features and mud.

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King Arthurs Cave

From there the walk takes you down towards the Wye, first taking in Seven Sisters Rocks perched high above the river. One of my favourite local spots with spectacular views along the gorge and down to the river of chocolate below. The usual nervous times for the parents with kids dashing about near the cliff edge!

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Downstream view from Seven Sisters Rocks

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Upstream view from Seven Sisters Rocks

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Happy families

Onwards to the river and the Biblins campsite, reserved for school groups (bit of a shame for everyone else as it’s a nice spot). The river crossing is by a narrow suspension bridge which again the kids found mightily entertaining, enhanced by the fast flowing river beneath.

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A & L on Biblins bridge

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Biblins bridge

As we strolled up towards Symonds Yat the sun came out properly and treated us to some stunning vistas across the river complete with flooded islands and rafts of debris floating downstream after the Monsoons of the past couple of days. The last day was turning into a great one and everyone enjoyed the pleasure of walking at a steady pace in the warm sunshine, drinking in the riverside views.

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Sunshine at last

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River Wye in flood

We had planned to use the small ferry that crosses the Wye and return to the cars by some more caves. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t running due to the sheer volume of water and huge amounts of flood debris. The kids were placated with the promise of ice creams while Mark and me walked back the way we’d come to collect the cars and pick everyone up for the journey home. Mark’s take on the day is here.

So ended our week with the aforementioned friends from the north. It had been a fantastic week despite the at times poor weather and I think we made the very most of what was on offer. I really enjoy showing off the local places I’ve come to know so well and I think Mark, TBH, A, B and S all enjoyed the days as well, from castles to rivers to waterfalls and a right proper soaking. There is still so much more to show-off so I’m hoping they’ll make a return visit. Who knows next time we may be able to sit in the garden. It was a real pleasure to have them stay the week, a cracking time was had by all. Hope you enjoy the slide show

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4 responses to “At home with our friends from the North – Raglan Castle and Wye Valley

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  1. Great tune, lovely pictures, top memories!
    Be careful what you wish for: I think it’s fair to say that we would all jump at the chance to come again.
    Cheers.

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    beatingthebounds
    • It was great to finish on such a good day after all the rain. Great castle and a great walk with lots of interesting stuff, kids seemed to enjoy it. As I say it was a top week and you’re welcome to come visit again next year (or any time!), still plenty of stuff to do. Perhaps climb some hills next time

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  2. Have you and Mark actually visited every castle in the UK then?

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    • Not quite yet but I think we’ve done most of the classic Welsh ones. Caernarvon and Conway are my personal favourites. Alnwick is the one missing from my list I’d like to visit

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