Newest Review: ... at it looming up from the beach is fantastic (a great backdrop for a picnic!) but you really must go and have a look round inside too. ... more
Bamburgh - The best castle in the UK
Bamburgh Castle (Bamburgh)
Member Name: miffy1
Bamburgh Castle (Bamburgh)
Advantages: Fantastic castle. Great location. Good value for money.
Disadvantages: The road up to the castle is steep and narrow. Car park gets full early in the day.
We have had several holidays in Northumberland, having fallen in love with the county the first time we visted and Bamburgh is our favourite place of all, manily thanks to this wonderful castle.
The castle sits atop a huge basalt outcrop overlooking the North Sea and is one of the oldest castles in the UK which is still inhabited. There has been a castle on the site since about 547ad, though that was destroyed and then rebuilt by the Normans,. The only Norman remnant that you can see today is that of the 11c keep. The castle fell into disrepair for hundreds of years, but was restored in the 17th and 18th centuries and later bought by Lord William Armstrong, an industrialist. The castle remains in the Armstrong family to this day.
If you visit Northumberland then this castle must be top of your list of places to visit. Just standing back to look at it looming up from the beach is fantastic (a great backdrop for a picnic!) but you really must go and have a look round inside too.
If you want to drive right up to the gates, there is a car-park at the top of the very steep road, though this does get full fairly early in the day. Also, the road up to it is very steep and narrow and personally I did not want to drive it, so we opted to park in the car-park at the bottom of the hill on the other side of the road to the castle. Car-parking fees apply here.
The walk up the hill is hard work, and disabled people will need to park at the castle's own car-park if they want to visit. Staff at the castle are really helpful and facilities are good.
Entrance fees are pretty reasonable:
Adult - £8.50
Child - £4
Senior - £7.50
Family - £21
School and group visits are catered for.
You enter the castle through a small turnstile and come straight into the area just inside the walls. There are ramparts to climb up and the view from these is breathtaking. On a clear day, the Farne Islands look wonderful and you can also see right across to Lindisfarne and the castle there. There are several buildings outside the main castle such as the stables, the clock tower, one building houses the Armstrong and Aviation museum and there is also the original Norman keep.
There is an ongoing archaeological excavation in one area of the grounds, which has turned up many artifacts over the years. Very interesting to watch as the archaelologists work.
Inside the castle it is just wonderful! You are able to wander round the public areas, though obviously some areas are roped off to protect the furniture and other exhibits. There are some wonderful works of art on the walls too. The Kings Hall has some fantastic portraits and at least one Turner on show!
As you are guided through the castle, guides are in each area and are happy to answer any questions that you may have and are extremely helpful. You are able to see the Victorian Kitchen, and also go down to the dungeons, which is quite creepy and somewhat claustrophobic!
At the end of the tour you come to a fabulous little gift shop that sells everything from books and DVDs to jams and chutneys, toys and games. There is something for everyone!
Once you have walked your feet off you can visit the castle café, where they serve an excellent array of fresh cakes, scones and beverages. Again, staff here are very friendly and give good service.
A visit to this castle will take a good couple of hours, but it really is worth the entrance fee. We have been back several times now and it never fails to please.
For me, it is the best castle in the UK, so I would recommend a visit if you are up that way!
Summary: A really fantastic castle and a great excursion for all the family.
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