A couple of weeks ago Boyfriend and I took Belle for a day out at Berkeley Castle. Although it’s less than an hour away from us I have to confess I had never even heard of it before, let alone visited, despite the fact that we love a good castle and have National Trust membership and everything.
(Berkeley Castle isn’t part of the National Trust, I was just using that to prove my wholesome castle-loving credentials).
We were very lucky in that we ended up going on a rare sunny day – perfect for exploring the beautiful gardens and enjoying a cup of tea and an ice-cream outside the yurt tea room. I am a big fan of yurts and we have had several holidays in them, so thought this made for a really interesting alternative to a cafe in an outbuilding.
The castle was stunning, especially seen from the outside on such a beautiful day. There were a few places that felt like they could have done with a little TLC, but then I guess you can’t expect spotless paintwork in a building that’s hundreds of years old! Boyfriend actually preferred the whole feel of the castle to many of the National Trust properties we have visited – he said it felt much more authentic and liked that a lot of it was original furnishings, even if they were a bit battered, rather than spruced up versions of the originals bought in to create a nicer picture. I was really taken with a lot of the amazing carvings and knockers on the doors too.
One of the highlights for us was the butterfly house. There must have been something tasty in our suntan lotion because the most gorgeous butterflies kept landing on us and just sitting there for ages. Belle loved being able to stand like a tree and have them rest on her arms.
All in all we had a really lovely day out, and here are some of our favourite pictures to prove it:
Our top tipsfrom our own experience:
- Either tag along with the guided tour or buy a guide book in the shop before you go in. We weren’t offered one when we got our tickets, but it turned out there wasn’t a lot of information generally lying around and we could have done with a few more pointers.
- Think a little bit about when you want to have lunch. You can’t take picnics into the house and gardens, so you might want to time it so you can eat either when you first get there or when you have looked at everything and can come back out into the picnic area. We got there about midday so ended up doing an awkward in-out-in thing.
- D0 go in the butterfly house (accessed through the shop) as this was one of the highlights for us.
- Do visit the website before you go for opening times. These are somewhat limited due to weddings so it’s worth checking.
The Castle was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, given to top 10% of attractions that consistently receive outstanding reviews. All profits from entrance fees go to the upkeep of the castle.