I visited Carlisle Castle with a tour group. We were given a brief history of the castle by one of the guides, which was very interesting. He talked about how the castle had been built by the Normans and the improvements that had been added. Then he spoke about the various occupants of the castle. Then we were turned loose to explore the castle and grounds to our heart's content (Warning: if you fear steep staircases--this place has a LOT of them).
Though there wasn't much in the way of furnishing or art, you could still feel how old the the rooms were and still get a sense of what it might have been like when occupied full-time. There were a few folks wandering about in period dress, which helped set the tone a bit (one man was "knighting" children, granting them a gold "token" of chocolate--I was a bit jealous as I suspected it was Cadbury's, lol).
After exploring the castle, I visited the gift shop (which was very nice)--It actually had two sections: one for trinkets and children's gifts (the kind of things I like, lol) and one side for more 'grownup' gifts (aka, expensive stuff that I can't afford). Then we wandered about town for bit before leaving Carlisle. I really enjoyed being allowed to take my time and stroll about the castle and ground and had a lovely time--the fact that it was a warm, sunny day only making it all the better.
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