Dragon Hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle

One of the things I wanted to do with BattleKid before we left the UK for Portugal was to visit as many castles in South Wales as we could. We love nothing more than getting out and doing a spot of dragon hunting while we explore old castles and forts. So, while BattleDad was away one weekend, I did a search for castles in South Wales and came upon one which looked great from the picture. And so it was that we went dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle, just me and the boy.

Carreg Cennen Castle

Carreg Cennen Castle, located near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, is perched high on top of a hill. Originating somewhere in the 12th century, it has been ruinous since the 15th century when it was vandalised during the War of the Roses. It dominates the skyline of the area around the River Cennan and surrounded by mountainous farming land.

Although quiet and peaceful today, it would have been a hive of activity at the height of its time with stables, workshops and kitchens keeping the castle going on a day-to-day basis. Carreg Cennan Castle is now a part of Cadw.

After visiting a friend in Swansea, BattleKid and I drove the 23 miles from Swansea past Ammanford to start our dragon hunting at Carreg Cennan Castle. I kept looking out for it but it didn’t come into view until we were only a few minutes from it. The closer we got, the more spectacular it looked. I can only imagine what people must have thought back in the 13th and 14th centuries as they approached the castle.

We parked in the car park and walked to the gift shop/restaurant to show our Cadw membership cards. And then it hit me that we had to walk up the hill to get to the castle. I genuinely did not think BattleKid would manage it. There is no way you will get a buggy up that hill. Considering he had not long turned 3 when we visited, I was sure I would hear “Mummy, up” half way up the hill. However, whether it was the promise of seeing the castle or going dragon hunting, he walked the whole way up the hill. I was so proud of him and secretly thankful as I just about managed the climb myself while holding his hand.

As you approach the castle, the views across the countryside are spectacular and you can see why they chose to build a castle on this particular hill. To enter the castle, we climbed a few stone steps before crossing a modern-day steel bridge to the Barbican which led to the Middle Gate Tower, with stunning views.

From there BattleKid and I turned left and went into the area leading to the North-East Tower. We checked in holes in the walls and any other nook and cranny a dragon might use to hide in. But our first check in our hunt didn’t turn up a dragon. We continued our dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle by going into the Hall and Chapel Tower, but no matter where we looked, we couldn’t find the dragon.

We headed across the Inner Bailey to the King’s Tower. However, as it was closed off, we just checked the stairs that we could see but alas, no dragon. I must say, when we visited in January it was bright and sunny, but boy was the wind cold. Despite hats and gloves, we still felt the sharpness to the wind and I can just imagine how hard the inhabitants of the castle must have had it during winter in the 12th to 15th centuries.

But Carreg Cennen Castle is still very beautiful. We carried on across the Inner Bailey to check around the North-West Tower. Despite no sign of a dragon we had lots of fun jumping in puddles left behind by rain.

Then something caught BattleKid’s eye from across the Bailey and off he went running towards the Hall again. He had spotted something red and came back clutching his dragon, having found him hiding in a high hole in a wall. Dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle was a success and he was chuffed with himself.

Hunting and finding the dragon!

After some more puddling jumping, I decided we should start heading back down the castle to the restaurant to get something to warm us up. I was feeling cold and so were BattleKid’s hands. We didn’t do any roly-poly’s here as the ground was slippery and mucky but BattleKid did do some jumping off mounds in the grass.

Once we had descended the hill and passed through the Outer Gate, we went into the restaurant where I ordered a Welsh Cawl for BattleKid and me to share. And my word, was it amazing. Not only was it nice and warm, a very welcome thing, but it was extremely tasty. Certainly, the best Welsh Cawl I’ve ever had. And it wasn’t expensive either at £4.50 for the cawl, some bread and butter, and a chunk of cheese. BattleKid devoured most of it!

dragon hunting at carreg cennen castle
Hurray!

As we were having a nice day out, I took the long way home from Carreg Cennen through the Brecon Beacons National Park. A certain little boy slept most of the way home. I can safely say that our dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle was a resounding success and I’m so glad we visited it before leaving Wales.

Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle

  • Carreg Cennen Castle is a Cadw site as mentioned and is open every day from 9.30am to 6pm from the 1st April to the 31st October. From 1st November 2017 to the 31st March 2018, the castle is open from 9.30am to 5pm*. The castle is closed on Christmas Day.
  • The whole site and car park are locked daily at 6.30pm.
  • Last admission is 45 minutes before closing, and it costs £5.50 per adult, with children, senior citizens and concession tickets costing £3.50. Children under 5 years of age enter free. As Cadw members our admission was included in our annual pass.
  • There are toilets on site, located in the restaurant or in the car park.
  • There is a restaurant and gift shop on site, and I can highly recommend the Welsh Cawl. There are benches available too.
  • Because the castle is located on a rocky hill, this site is not wheelchair or buggy friendly.
  • There is a car park at the bottom of the castle hill beside the farm and shop, is free and can hold approximately 50 cars.
  • Be aware, due to the location, mobile signal is poor, as I found out.
  • As the castle is privately owned (but managed by Cadw), there are livestock nearby. You are advised not to interact with them on your way to/from the castle itself.

BattleKid and I really enjoyed our time dragon hunting at Carreg Cennen Castle. It made a nice change seeing a castle further away from us rather then visiting Tretower or Abergavenny again. I can recommend it as a place to visit if you are in the Llandeilo area or are looking for a nice day out in South Wales. Be aware that, as it is situated on the top of a hill, you need to climb there to get it, but if 3-year-old BattleKid can manage it, anyone can. The views from the castle are spectacular and the descent down the hill is easy, although be careful if the ground is wet. And do stop off at the restaurant for a well-deserved break afterwards. The Cawl is well worth it.

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.

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35/52 My Sunday Photo: 27/08/2017

One place I really wanted to visit in Wales before we left the UK was St. Fagan’s and not long before we departed, that’s exactly what we did. I was so glad we did as it is an amazing place to wander around. We spent a full day there and didn’t get to see all of it. I’ll be writing all about our visit soon.

This cottage, with the smoke coming out of its chimney, really caught my eye. It reminded me of my parents second home in Galway, Ireland, before they sold it. The walls were white, and during the winter there was always a fire going in the house. But they were lucky enough not to have a thatched roof. I didn’t spend a lot of time in that house but there was something special about it. It is now gone, replaced by a home in Portugal for their retirement instead. I’d say that’s a good trade-off.

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St Fagan’s, Wales
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Be In The Picture 3

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Be in the Picture linky as it has encouraged me to hand over the camera on days out and get some pictures of BattleKid and I together. As a blogger I always have a camera in my hand on days out in particular, but have been guilty of never being in front of it. Well Be in the Picture has changed that and I’d like to think it means BattleKid now has more pictures of his mum to look back on in the future.

It is also an opportunity to look back on the month and see what we’ve been up to and it has surprised me yet again. I had forgotten all about visiting Chepstow Castle and our visit to Dublin seems so long ago!

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Spotting boats across the River Wye
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Peeking through windows at Chepstow Castle

We’ve had a busier month than I initially thought and it all kicked off with a visit to Chepstow Castle as mentioned. I had forgotten all about this castle until Kerry mentioned it on Facebook and I knew we had to go dragon hunting there. BattleKid and I had visited nearly two years ago with Lolo but BattleDad had never been. Well, we changed that and we also found the Chepstow dragon too!

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Giving me his flowers

The weekend after dragon hunting, BattleKid and I headed home to Ireland to visit family. While we were there we visited Powerscourt Waterfall with a few of my sisters and my niece and nephew. While it was a bit drizzly we still enjoyed seeing it and I was glad I’ve finally visited a place I’ve always wanted to.

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At Powerscourt Waterfall

Next trip during our busy month was a visit to Bristol Zoo before our annual passes expired. Bristol Zoo is only an hour from us and although it’s quite a small zoo, it still makes for a nice day out. We had fun seeing all the animals, particularly the penguins which are BattleKid’s favourites and we also had fun in the “stick your head in here” pictures. Well, it’d be rude not to join the boy!

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Watching the penguins at Bristol Zoo
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Having fun

To round off a very busy month we visited Legoland last weekend with some friends of ours. We spent quite a bit of time in the large playground near the Duplo section and BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed himself here. We even had a bit of fun together and BattleDad kindly captured a lovely moment between us for us to treasure. I think this one is my favourite picture of myself and the boy from this month.

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Fun at Legoland

Oh and we got our comic on for Comic Relief too!be in the picture 3

Joining in with Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday in their Be in the Picture community in which they encourage us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up. Here’s February’s Be in the Picture post.

08/52 My Sunday Photo: 18/02/2017

my sunday photo 2017On Friday I had a day off so after running a few errands in the morning I collected the boy from nursery after lunch and headed to Raglan Castle for some more dragon hunting adventures. I managed to capture this picture through a windowless hole in the wall and was quite pleased with it. It’s like a glimpse of a different world and time.
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