You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth
In the last week we have the pleasure of visiting not one but two castles here in Portugal. I had no idea there were so many in Portugal, let alone within two hours of us.
The first we visited was in a town 20 minutes from us called Castro Marim. Castro Marim has two fort-type castles on opposite hills, one which is open to the public and one which isn’t. We had a lovely time wandering around, looking for dragons of course, and imagining what it was like to live there hundreds of years ago.
We also visited a castle in a town called Beja which is 2 hours drive from us. We were meeting up with friends from Wales who were in Lisbon on holiday and who kindly offered to meet halfway. It was so good seeing M and his new fiancee P, who is lovely, and we spent a lovely hour wandering around the castle, hunting for dragons, before having a bite to eat and a coffee. I was blown away by this castle. And guess what? We passed another one in a town called Mertola which we are going to return to!
We also spent last Friday evening at the beach after BattleDad finished work. I still can’t quite believe that this is our life now; popping to the beach after work on Friday while it’s still hot is still something dreams are made of.
Linking up with Donna of What The Redhead Said. If you’d like to take part or see some other Living Arrows posts, please click the badge below.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
*Prices and visiting times correct at the time of writing this post.
Yesterday we headed to Caerphilly Castle to see Dewi and Dwynwen. They are stunning and so life like. So impressed, I am thinking of a return trip again this week!
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.