Day 1 21st March (Good Friday) Warwick Castle: We imagined just the usual castle thing, walking round for a couple of hours, maybe a guided tour. That is why we were a little shocked at the admission price of almost £20 per adult. But what we found once we got through the gates was a complete surprise. We arrived at 11.00 a.m. and left at 5.00 p.m., exhausted with trying to see and do everything.
Because of the weekend that was in it (irish expression), there was a very large contingent of mediaeval wannabees (american expression), all skilfully and fascinatingly demonstrating a range of ancient skills. It’s almost to impossible to list all that was available: the great trebuchet, of course, an impression flight of eagles and other birds of prey, long-bow shooting, even singing plague victims. Amusement for every age.
Then there was the castle itself. This alone is almost worth the entrance fee. The state rooms were displayed with great accessibility. There were also two fascinating tours: the Weekend Houseparty, and the Kingmaker, which were beautifully staged with scarily lifelike models. Finally, walking the ramparts and climbing the towers was a great adventure (don’t wear high heels as some women did). The walk around the walls and towers is one-way so there is no turning back. Some of the narrow stairways are unlit by windows so it is not for the very fainthearted, but is perfectly OK if you take your time. Perhaps when the castle is not too busy the one way system does not apply, but it was necessary with the large numbers that were there on this day.
There was much more that we didn‘t have time for . I am told the gardens are beautiful, but we will have to save that for another day.
There is a restaurant and good toilet facilities.
I really recommend this to a family for a great day out.
Day 2, Saturday, Kenilworth: We were in luck again as Kenilworth was also staging a mediaeval event, albeit on a much smaller scale to Warwick. Unfortunately the weather had turned cold and snowy and there is much less cover at Kenilworth. However, we really enjoyed the music and the archery demonstration. There was also a lot of other fun things, especially for children.
Kenilworth is such a romantic castle with a very interesting history, especially the connections with Elizabeth 1. There are informative displays in the gatehouse, but not much information available as you walk around the castle itself.
There is a good café in a beautiful setting - in the original stables. Well supplied with loos. Admission was around £5.
We spent a happy couple of hours at Kenilworth, and could have stayed longer watching the entertainment, but were beaten off by the cold and the snow.
Day 3, Sunday, Ashby de la Zouch: Ashby Castle was an afterthought. On the way to East Midlands Airport we had time to spare and Ashby is only just down the road. For the price of the £3.70 you get a free audio tour - and this is what made the visit so interesting. The audio is both very informative and very entertaining and jokey. There are also very helpful information boards all over the castle. We were very impressed with the way this castle is presented and would recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere to visit in the East Midlands.
This was a great way to pass an hour or two. The audio tour and information boards brought the castle alive. All parts of the castle are accessible and you can climb to the top of the tower without much nervousness. Sadly, again we had to cut the visit short as we had a plane to catch.
So, for anyone interested in castles, or just looking for a good family day out, the above three are well worth the visit.