23 Aug Two Castle Adventures in England
By Staff Blogger, Sarah Travis
What kid doesn’t love the romance and adventure of a castle? Whether we’re talking about dreams of being royalty or a knight or a friend of Harry Potter, a night (or five or six) will spark the imagination in any traveler. So get ready and buckle your seat belts for this blog that’ll take you far away from where you sit now.
Langley Castle is a 14th Century fortified castle, nestled in the Northumbrian valley of the South Tyne, about twenty miles west of Newcastle and very close to Hadrian’s Wall. It’s a perfect place for a fairytale adventure starting with the castle grounds, where you’ve got tons of bunnies, even more birds, and peacocks roaming the road. Oh it’s just so beautiful! The grass is always freshly mowed, and it smells like flowers wherever you go. After a morning walk, take in the short Battlement Tour to see the rooftop chapel, the four towers of the castle, and learn the history behind it. One thing it is known for is its historic garderobes (medieval latrines – or bathrooms as we call them). They had more garderobes than many castles in their day. Who knew a castle could be known for this? Before you head off the bed, you can relax with a cup of hot chocolate in the medieval drawing room where you truly feel like a queen (or king).
And now for a trip to where you’ll sleep. When you finally conquer the stairs leading up to your room and pass the suits of armor in the hallway, you push the golden key in the lock, and the ancient door swings open. As you gaze into the room for the first time, you are awestruck. My oh my will you get some serious Hogwarts happiness (if you are a Harry Potter fan, of course). I’m talking huge, clean bathrooms that are bigger than my room at home and beds that you see in TV shows, like Reign. A desk stands on your left-hand side, with lots of little drawers that look like what a queen would put her makeup in. Past the desk is the master bed. It’s large, puffy, and comfortable with red drapes clinging to the sides. On your right is the reading nook. You climb two small steps and open a drape to reveal two comfy couches opposite of each other. By each end of the couch is an old window that squeals when you open it. You can feel the hard stone as you poke your head or hand outside the windows (mothers would prefer hands). Now I am telling you, this will feel as if you are in Hogwarts. This is truly a place for dreaming and not sleeping.
Leeds Castle is another gem. Don’t get me started on this castle. It’s been a Norman stronghold and a palace for six different queens, and now it’s super kid friendly. Have you started to dream yet? Leeds has so many activities. The one every kid will love is the maze. There are too many twists and turns to count. If you have ever seen Harry Potter, it reminds me of the third task in the fourth movie, The Goblet of Fire. Once you reach the center (which will probably take some time), you go underneath the maze. I won’t tell you exactly what’s under there because that would make the maze less fun, but it’s definitely worth all the time it takes to find your way.
Leeds Castle has an on-site falconry, which includes owls. Oh my goodness, it is truly wonderful! You can even pet the owls and get very close to them—so close you can see the dilation of the owl’s pupils. On nice days, you can watch them fly the falcons. They also have peacocks that roam the grounds. For the truly adventurous, jump on the HUGE treetop course that runs right by the castle. This course is truly brilliant, with tons of different treetop obstacles to get to each zipline. You can choose either an easy or difficult way to get to the zipline that will fly you across distances. They even have a Tarzan swing.
What makes both these castles a terrific destination is that adults love them too. They’re both not to be missed!