Time for another castle! We’d had a brilliant day out at Harlech earlier in the year, so while me and the boy were staying with Anma and Grandpa at the caravan, we took the opportunity to pootle round another. Grandpa loves castles too, so he joined us for our day out – this time to Conwy Castle. We parked up at Morfa Bach car park (postcode LL32 8FZ) and paid £4.50 for over four hours parking – Conwy is a big one. And with Rowan all kitted out as a knight, we headed through the pedestrian tunnel towards the imposing walls.
We have visited Conwy Castle before, when Rowan was smaller than he is now. He didn’t like it (the horror!!). We’d climbed to the battlements, but he became upset by the height. No amount of consoling or convincing was working so we left, with me trying not to sulk. This time. Rowan was full of enthusiasm. He demonstrated his archery skills through the arrow slits, posed with the giant wooden soldier by the main gate and wowed us with his castle defence techniques at the murder holes. And this time, he had no problem with the height of the towers.
I never get bored of looking round castles. Exploring the towers and imagining what the scenes, battles and everyday life was like during its heyday is just brilliant. Finding little clues, like old fireplaces and holes where there were once floor joists. Or maybe looking to a possible, distant future where the mosses, lichens and plants taking hold in the crevices of the great stones at the castle were able to truly grow wild. It’s great stuff!
As we explored, we came across a brilliant sculpture of intertwined swords and shields, on top of which hung a crown. This seemingly inspired Grandpa’s story telling ways. Now Grandpa can be very persuasive. He told me, when I was a little older than Rowan, that if you tore the perforations on a stamp, your letter wouldn’t be posted. I threw stamps away till I was 25 years old when a friend asked me why my perfectly usable stamp was going in the bin. There were so many more Grandpa stories – the walking trees especially stand out (closely followed by our bedroom window being tapped on with the washing line prop). I know from personal experience how convincing he can be. So when he began the tale of the time he had ruled as King Philip of Conwy Castle, and the crown in the previous tower was once his, I was not in the least bit surprised that Rowan soaked up every word.
As we followed my castle visit rules – climb every tower, walk every corridor – King Philip continued to regale Rowan of his time in Conwy Castle – his favourite tower, where he kept prisoners, where he had a wee (from the top of a tower). Any doubts that Rowan may have had as to whether Grandpa was telling the truth were cast aside when he spotted a box (possibly electronics) with Philips written across the front. Rowan’s Grandpa was once King Philip of Conwy Castle and he loved it all. Unfortunately though, King Philip had been defeated before Rowan was born so returned to his home in Manchester.
Like Harlech Castle, Conwy was built by Edward I as part of his Iron Ring of Castles. Standing atop a rocky outcrop with views down the River Conwy and out to sea, the castle was built with an inner and outer ward which could be defended separately if required. The wards were defended by eight towers and a curtain wall, all of which can be visited. It’s amazing to think that the castle, and the town walls that surround Conwy were built in just four years, between 1283 and 1287. Originally, the castle would have been lime rendered – this magnificent white building with the mountains of Snowdonia behind must have been a sight to behold – and in all honesty, still is today, lichens and all. Climbing the towers and battlements really gives a sense of how formidable this fortress must have looked to someone sailing up the River Conwy
There is plenty to discover as you wander round. Information boards give facts about what you are looking at and in one room, we found a model of the castle and the town walls, which gave a real sense of scale to the works completed in Conwy. Everywhere there are hints to the past – a fireplace, or an oven, huge rooms with views out to sea. There’s also wire sculpture of a king’s head to find – Edward, not Philip.
We had a brilliant time at Conwy Castle made all the better watching Grandpa and Rowan look around together. You can find more details here, and if you find yourself with a bit of time after following the castle visit rules, you could maybe visit West Shore beach, not to far away.
And for other adventures in North Wales, you could have a look below:-