Dragon Hunting at Powis Castle near Welshpool

Powis Castle is one castle that was recommended to us by a work colleague of mine quite a number of years ago. While we longed to go dragon hunting at Powis Castle, it always remained slightly out of reach as it was a bit too far for a day trip from home, being situated in Mid Wales. However, last August bank holiday weekend, we were in Chester and thought it would be perfect to visit on our way back down to Wales. So that’s what we did!dragon hunting at powis castle

We left Chester and took the A5 down towards Shrewsbury before turning off for Welshpool and Powis Castle. Powis Castle is a National Trust site. It was originally built in the 1200’s and the Herbert family took ownership in the late 16th century and it has remained in their family ever since. A medieval castle, fortress and grand country mansion, it doesn’t resemble your usual castles in Wales. It is very much more a stately home and is extremely grand indeed, being the seat of the Earl of Powis.

When we arrived there was plenty of parking in the car park and we walked up the road and footpath to the ticket office where we paid to get in. As the castle didn’t open until 11am, we had 45 minutes to kill and so we found a seat in the courtyard and BattleDad got us some drinks and cakes to enjoy in the glorious sunshine from the courtyard restaurant. We really enjoyed our tea break and admired the grand home from our seats.dragon hunting at powis castle

Our plan was to start our dragon hunting at Powis Castle within the castle itself and if we were out of luck we would check the extensive gardens instead. We started in the drawing room but there was no obvious signs of our hiding dragon.  There was a very nice gentleman giving talks and information about the room and the Herbert family too. We moved upstairs towards the bedrooms, some of which were not open to the public for obvious reasons. In those that were, we saw no sign of the Powis Castle dragon.dragon hunting at powis castle

From the bedrooms we moved downstairs to the kitchen where there were two people giving talks about how the kitchen was run and still is today. Children also had the opportunity to dress up and partake in some activities there but we were on a dragon hunt so didn’t stop. We thought we spotted him in the games room where there was a large billiards table and the cabinets were full of stuffed animals, but, he either wasn’t there, or had managed to evade us as we wandered through the castle. We did, however, leave a message in the visitors book in this room.

dragon hunting at powis castle
The message we left in the visitors book at Powis Castle.

Having had no luck within the castle (of which you cannot take pictures inside as the Earl still resides there), we turned our attention to the gardens. However, dragon hunting is tiring work, particularly on a sunny day like this, so we paused at the courtyard for an ice cream before continuing our hunt. And I must say the ice creams were very good!

We started by taking a right from the entrance to the gardens and headed towards the lake that sits at one end of the gardens. We checked all the holes and cracks in the walls where a dragon might hide but still we couldn’t find him. As we rounded past the lake, and before we headed up a small hill to the side of it, BattleKid spotted him hiding at the foot of a rather magnificently big tree. He was hiding on the ground among the foliage.dragon hunting at powis castle

We had found him! However, a little boy just ahead of us wasn’t too impressed that our dragon hunting at Powis Castle was more successful than his, as I overheard him say to his mum “that boy has a dragon, I want a dragon”. Oops. Satisfied with our result, we took a short stroll up the hill and discovered the Ice Cellar of the castle. I had never seen one before and was quite surprised by it. You can only look through some gates into it and you cannot see the floor but it gives you an idea of what one from centuries ago looks like.

Our visit to Powis Castle was a success and it was a castle we had wanted to visit, so we could now tick it off our list.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Powis Castle:

  • It is a National Trust site. Cadw membership cards aren’t accepted.
  • It costs £12.50 for an adult and £6.25 for a child to visit the whole property (without GiftAid) and a family ticket costs £31.25. To visit the castle only prices are £6.35 (adult) and £3.17 (child), for the garden only £9.21 (adult) and £4.60 (child), and for the winter garden £6.20 (adult) and £3.10 (child).*
  • The Castle opens from 11am to 5pm, as does the museum, shop and garden shop. The gardens open from 10am to 6pm, with the garden coffee shop opening from 11am to 4pm. The restaurant opens from 10am to 5pm.
  • Parking is free, and there is ample parking. There are electric car-charging points in the car park and some spaces for disabled badge holders.
  • Dogs are allowed on the lead in the car park and courtyard only. There are strictly no dogs allowed in the deer park.
  • There are baby changing and feeding facilities on site.
  • There are toilets available on site.
  • There is a children’s quiz/trail and also games on the great lawn (although we didn’t see these as we didn’t visit that end of the gardens).
  • NOTE: the castle is not very wheelchair accessible, nor buggy accessible. The ground floor is, but that’s where it stops due to the historical nature of the castle. The garden has a step-free route which is highlighted in the leaflet available at the ticket office. For wheelchair users there is a virtual tour of the upper floor rooms available at the ticket office.
  • Guided tours are available.

We were glad we got the opportunity to go dragon hunting at Powis Castle and even better to combine it with a great weekend away. I am not sure we would have visited Powis Castle had we not been travelling back from Chester. We had glorious sunshine during our visit and the ice cream was most welcome and delicious.

I can highly recommend a visit to Powis Castle if you ever get the chance. We did not get to explore all the grounds as they are quite extensive, especially for little legs but it would make a great day out for the whole family. Maybe bring a picnic to enjoy somewhere in the gardens if you visit.

Thanks for reading the next post in our Dragon Hunting Series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you missed our previous ones you can find them in the Dragon Hunting Series. And if you’d like to have a sneak peek at Powis Castle, we filmed a little vlog of our day out dragon hunting at Powis Castle (below).

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post.

dragon hunting at powis castle

dragon hunting at powis castle dragon hunting at powis castle

 

Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre in Kington – Our Return Visit

We have visited the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre before with BattleKid and we thoroughly enjoy it. Last August Bank Holiday weekend, on our way to Chester, we visited again and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.small breeds farm and owl centre

The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is privately owned and run, and is located in Kington in Herefordshire.  It is open from 10.30 to 5.00 (4.30 in winter months), every day of the year, even on Christmas Day.

As usual during our last visit, we went clockwise, starting in the incubation room where we saw newly Southern-white faced owls. BattleKid wanted to hold them and was quite confused as to why he couldn’t. From there we made our way through the barn area where we saw my favourite of all the animals at the Small Breeds Farm, the Boer Goats. I love them and explained why in my last post.small breeds farm and owl centre

It took a little bit of coaxing to get BattleKid to help me feed them!

We then went into the small animal’s room which houses rabbits, guinea pigs and chipmunks. The various birds were next to be visited before we turned our attention to the farm animals in the outdoor enclosures.

BattleKid had a great time giving feed to the horses and goats. The Boer goats passed us on the way to their enclosure and one made a beeline for the feed bucket on its way past (see our vlog below).small breeds farm and owl centre

After finishing in the main farm area we stopped at the tea room for some lunch, and as it was such a nice day, we sat outside on the picnic benches to enjoy toasted sandwiches and baked potatoes. BattleKid hogged a whole potato and baked beans with cheese to himself!

Nicely full and satisfied, we visited the Owl Garden to see all the various owls which include tawny owls, barn owls, the snowy owls (my personal favourites) and BattleDad’s favourites, the great horned owls. We had another great visit to the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre and were so lucky that it was a lovely day weather-wise at the start of that bank holiday weekend.small breeds farm and owl centre

Tickets cost £9.00 per adult and £6 per child*, with animal feed buckets costing £1 each. The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is wheelchair accessible and a mobility scooter available to loan on site.

The tea room serves both hot and cold drinks and food and there is a picnic garden and barn, should you wish to bring your own food and drinks to enjoy.

Something that I discovered during our last visit was their owl experiences which are available. There are two, the Owl Experience and Owls by Moonlight.

The Owl experience is available during breeding season (approximately March to July) costing £78pp (age 14 years and above only), which take place between 8.30 and 10.30am and must be paid for in advance. You get an introduction talk with a Senior Owl Keeper, a guided tour of the owl garden before opening and trip to the incubation room. You also get to prepare breakfast and feed it to the owlets. You get up close and personal with tame owls and have access to the rest of the Farm afterwards. You can share your experience with 1 other full paying person.

The Owl Centre also run an Owls by Moonlight Experience, which takes place on certain evenings between 7 and 9.30pm. In this experience you explore the Owl garden by lamplight with a Senior Owl Keeper. There is an interval during which you are served soup and a roll. You then get the chance to get photos with hand-reared owls and have a chance to take your own photos in the softly illuminated garden at the end. This amazing experience is available for those aged 16 years and over for £32pp.

I’d love to return when BattleKid is older to enjoy these Owl Experiences.

The Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the Kington or Herefordshire area. A visit takes about 3-4 hours to fully enjoy. And it is a great family day out, particularly with younger children, who can get up close and personal with animals of various sizes. Even if you are visiting South Wales (where we live) it is also worth the drive up to visit (it takes us just over an hour to drive there).

If you’d like to get a sneak peek at the Small Breeds Farm and Owl Centre, why not watch our little vlog from our most recent visit below.

Thanks for reading.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this post.

small breeds farm and owl centre

Dragon Hunting at Abergavenny Castle

We are regular visitors to Abergavenny as it is only 15 minutes from our house. We often pop down on a Saturday for breakfast in our favourite café before running some errands, like depositing money in BattleKid’s bank account or getting his ever growing feet measured in Clarks. A few times we’ve gone dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle after we’ve finished and BattleKid loves this little castle.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Abergavenny Castle is a ruined castle which was established in 1087 by a Norman Lord. Now a Grade 1 listed building, it is quite small and is located beside one of the main town car parks. It had a stone keep, towers and ditch fortifications. It housed both the family and the army of the Lord of the Castle. In the 19th century a lodge was built on top of the motte as a hunting lodge for the Marquess of Abergavenny and today acts as the castle museum.

Abergavenny Castle was also the scene of an infamous massacre over Christmas in 1175. The whole castle was destroyed in 1233 by the Earl of Pembroke and eventually rebuilt in stone. The walls you can see today are the remains of a stone hall built between 1233 and 1295.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Whenever we go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle, we always go clockwise for some reason, starting along the ruined walls. We check the holes and nooks and crannies in the walls for the dragon. We check the outside of the walls and also gated entrances.

We always check around the edge of the motte where the lodge now stands and also in the trees in the gardens. There are many a ruined wall with holes to check as you never know where the dragon might be hiding.

On our most recent adventure dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle, we started at the main ruins and BattleKid checked all the usual places. Not finding the dragon where he initially thought it might be, he took a moment to reflect and think hard about where he might be hiding. Cue camera time for me!Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

We walked along the bottom of the motte and then made our way up it to the ruin wall that runs perpendicular to it. Lo and behold the dragon was hiding in one of the holes in the wall. BattleKid was delighted to find him at long last. He gave him a hug and then promptly tried to put him back where he found him.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Although this was a short expedition of dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle, it was no less fun than previous visits for BattleKid. Happy that he had found his dragon he didn’t let go of him until he fell asleep in the car on the way home. Dragon hunting is tiring work you know.Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle:

  • Abergavenny Castle ruins and the museum are free to visit and are located near the main car parks of Abergavenny town.
  • There is limited free parking within the grounds itself. The nearest car park is a pay and display carpark.
  • The museum is open from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 2pm to 5pm Sunday between March and October. Between November and February the museum is open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm.
  • There are various exhibitions, both temporary and permanent, within the museum. Check what’s on by visiting the Abergavenny Museum website.
  • Note that the grounds of Abergavenny are quite uneven so are inaccessible to wheelchairs and buggies for the most part.
  • There are Family Backpacks available in the museum for families to use free of charge during their visit (free to use with a returnable security deposit such as car keys or mobile phone). These include replica artefacts, historic games, information sheets and activity sheets and binoculars to make visits more interesting. We haven’t used these but they sound brilliant for slightly older children than BattleKid’s 3 years of age.

We always enjoy ourselves whenever we go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle. I would recommend you visit Abergavenny Castle if you are in the area but it wouldn’t quite make a full day out unless you plan to get one of the backpacks and bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds (tables available at the back of the castle). It is quite small, but that said is easily enjoyed for an hour or two for a spot of dragon hunting. As we haven’t ventured into the museum I cannot comment on it.

We generally go dragon hunting at Abergavenny Castle after running errands after breakfast. It’s a nice way to round off a visit to Abergavenny. Have you visited it?

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

Dragon Hunting At abergavenny castle

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Dragon Hunting at Tretower Castle near Crickhowell

After their first to Tretower Castle near Crickhowell while I was away last year, as a family, we returned for another adventure of dragon hunting at Tretower Castle, the scene where it all began.Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

Tretower Castle is a Grade I listed ruined castle in the village of Tretower, approximately one and a half miles from Crickhowell in Powys. It is a Cadw site and was home to influential families such as the Vaughans and the Picards. Over 900 years old, it was established as a working farm in the 18th century. Today you can see what life would have been like when the Vaughans were part of high society in the late 15th century as many rooms have been recreated to that period.

BattleDad and BattleKid started the dragon hunting adventures on their first visit and when we returned a little over a month later we were pleasantly surprised to see the castle had a dragon hunt in place. A great addition for the school holidays and helped make our dragon hunting at Tretower Castle a little bit easier.Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

We were given a set of clues to find dragons hidden throughout the castle and grounds, and if we were successful, there was a certificate to collect upon completion. We started by walking through the gardens into the ground floor of the castle, and checking the clues on our sheet for the locations of the dragons.Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

Once we had located the dragons on the ground floor we moved upstairs to the bedrooms. There was one room BattleKid loved. It was a long hall-type room and he had great fun running from one end to the other. Apparently he had done it on his previous visit too.

From the house we moved outside to the gardens which are lovely. There were still lots of flowers in blossom and some of the trees even had fruit on them. BattleKid and I enjoyed the gardens for a while and of course this mama took some pictures of the boy while we waited for BattleDad. We then started to make our way over to the round tower, which sits away from the main castle buildings.Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

On our way we enjoyed some roly-polys. By the time we reached the round tower we had found most of the dragon clues for the dragon hunting at Tretower Castle, but were yet to find our own dragon’s hiding place. We searched inside the tower and then the nooks and crannies outside. At last we found him, hidden in a wall just outside the round tower. BattleKid was delighted and gave him a big hug.Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

Roly-polys were resumed on our way back to the house with BattleKid and I having lots of fun. He was also fascinated by the Jinny Joes (dandelions) and I taught him how to blow the florets off.Dragon hunting at Tretower Castle

When we reached the main house we found our final dragon clue in one of the rooms or cellars off the court yard and then handed in our complete dragon hunt sheet at the office whereupon BattleKid was presented with his official dragon hunting certificate and stickers. He was thrilled. Not only did we find our own dragon but he got a certificate for completing the dragon hunt at Tretower Castle itself.Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

The dragon hunt was an addition to many Cadw sites last year during the summer holidays and I’d like to think it returns this year. It’s a great way to get kids exploring historic sites and makes them more fun. We certainly enjoyed the dragon hunting at Tretower Castle. BattleDad also lays claim to the introduction of the dragon hunt after mentioning to the staff at Tretower Castle on their first visit that they were there to hunt the castle dragon. Whether this is true or not, he’s claiming it for his own! And either way we continue our own dragon hunting at each castle we visit as you will read in subsequent posts in this series.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Tretower Castle:

  • Tretower Castle is a Cadw site as mentioned and is open every day from 10am to 5pm from the 1st April to the 31st October. Between 1st November 2017 and 31st March 2018, the castle is open between 10am and 4pm from Thursday to Saturday but is closed between Sundays and Wednesday *.
  • Last admissions is 30 minutes before closing and costs £6.50 per adult, with children, senior citizens and concession tickets costing £4.30. Children under 5 years of age enter free. As Cadw members our admission was included in our annual pass.
  • There are toilets on site, including one for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.
  • There are picnic benches available in the gardens but there is no coffee shop.  There are also no baby changing facilities at Tretower Castle.
  • The courtyard is mainly accessible to buggies and wheelchairs as are a few parts of the ground level of the castle, although you may find the cobbled entrance unsuitable. The upper level and round tower are not accessible.
  • There is a car park across the road from the castle, and roadside parking for approximately 30 cars and is free.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time dragon hunting at Tretower Castle and can recommend it as a place to visit for a few hours with your children if you are in the Crickhowell or Abergavenny area. It takes approximately 20 minutes to drive to Tretower Castle from Abergavenny. We combined it with breakfast in our favourite café in Abergavenny. If you’d like a sneak peek at Tretower Castle, we filmed a little vlog of our dragon hunting adventure which is below.

Have you taken your children dragon hunting yet?

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

*Prices and visiting times correct at the time of writing this post.

Dragon Hunting At Tretower Castle

 

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Dragon Hunting Series – Where it All Started

Many of you who follow me on Instagram will know about the dragon hunting adventures we have with BattleKid when we visit the many fabulous castles around us in Wales, but I realised while we were away recently that I never explained where it came from. Well, let me tell you the story.dragon hunting

Last year a dragon appeared outside Caerphilly Castle on Saint David’s Day and stayed outside for a brief time before moving inside the castle. We had missed seeing it that first time outside the castle, but when Lolo was visiting last May, BattleDad and he took BattleKid to Caerphilly one morning. After their breakfast they decided to visit the castle. They stumbled upon the dragon inside and on this particular visit BattleKid was quite unsure of him and his smoking nostrils.

dragon hunting
The Caerphilly Castle Dragon

When my sister surprised us with a visit over the May Bank Holiday weekend, we visited Caerphilly Castle again as she had never been. This time, with some coaxing from BattleDad and Lolo, BattleKid got a bit more comfortable with the dragon, going much closer but he still wouldn’t actually touch him. From that day he became fascinated with dragons and was always asking to go see the dragon. I have written about our bank holiday weekend visit to see the Caerphilly Castle dragon on the blog before.

Then last July, while I was home in Dublin without the boys, they headed to Tretower Castle in Crickhowell after breakfast in Abergavenny. BattleDad decided to make things a bit more interesting by telling BattleKid they had to find the dragon hidden within the castle and that they were dragon hunters. They searched the castle high and low and had a great day together. They searched the castle rooms, the fields around the castle and also the round tower, which sits away from the main castle. They eventually found the dragon off the court yard and from that day forth our dragon hunting adventures continued.dragon hunting

It has been a great addition to our days out, and has allowed BattleDad and me to enjoy visiting the many castles around us in Wales with a toddler in tow. BattleKid finds it great fun to check the nooks and crannies in each of the castles we visit for the elusive dragon and we’ve been lucky to find a dragon in each castle.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Since their first visit to Tretower Castle, BattleDad and I always bring a small dragon teddy bear of BattleKid’s with us to plant somewhere for him to find. It ensures we enjoy ourselves as a family while we adults can also enjoy a bit of historical culture.

And even better, I’ve since seen other parents and parent bloggers incorporating dragon hunting into their castle adventures which is brilliant. It goes to show that with a little imagination from BattleDad last year, a new family adventure for all to enjoy was born.

Have you been dragon hunting yet?

Stay tuned for posts about our dragon hunting at the various castles we have visited around Wales.

Cath x

dragon hunting
An introduction to the dragon hunting series and where it all began
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