My friend has a thing for castles; I think it has something to do with dungeons, dragons and knights on horses: y’know – boy stuff. But as he’s pretty good at choosing places to go for a day out, I jumped at the chance when he asked if I fancied a trip to Chirk Castle. After having a bit of a mooch on the ole internet, I realised that Chirk looked to have some amazing gardens, and there was also the added bonus that we passed a Starbucks on the way.
There was a fairly long (steepish) walk from the car park up to the Castle, but there was also a park and ride available for anyone unable to make it on foot. I however relished every foot step, as I knew that with every step I took, my Fitbit was be rewarding me. After having a meander into some of the rooms off the courtyard, we were just about to head for some lunch when we got hijacked by an eccentric chap giving a tour; it wasn’t really our thing so when we saw a chance to sneak off, we made a sharp exit into the tea room.
I really need to start taking a picnic on my days out, as I find that National Trust properties have a pretty limited menu for vegetarians. Having said that though, I suppose my diet is closer to vegan these days which makes it even harder. I ended up with a plate of chips, which were extremely nice, although I could only hope that they had been cooked in vegetable or sunflower oil. The tea room did happen to have soya milk though, so I was happy that I could have a nice cup of coffee with my lunch.
After my carb and caffeine fuelled lunch, we headed towards the gardens; something I had been looking forward to all morning. I wasn’t disappointed; there were so many flowers, trees and topiary bushes I didn’t know where to start. I felt like Alice in Wonderland! There were woodland paths leading off in different directions, small ponds, and of course amazing views of the surrounding countryside; with deck chairs set up for people to enjoy them, visitors sat eating picnics whilst gazing out in silence.
After the gardens, we headed back to the courtyard ready to head off home, but on the way out we realised that we’d missed a door. It was like that moment when you’re playing Tomb Raider and you think “This can’t be it, I feel like I’ve missed something”, and sure enough you see the last piece of the puzzle staring right back at you! In our case, we’d missed the door to the main part of the castle! I’m always amazed when I visit houses and castles that are kept in such pristine condition; the work that goes into maintaining everything must be never ending.
After finding the bonus door and having a meander around the rest of the castle it was time to head home. The weather had stayed dry all day, but just as we started our journey home, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down; we’d left at just the right time.
For a lovely day out with gardens, a castle and even a dungeon (but no dragons or knights unfortunately), I think that Chirk Castle is well worth a visit.
What’s your favourite National Trust property? I’d love to hear some recommendations.