Clitheroe Castle is an historic landmark in the town of Clitheroe that has dominated it's skyline for more than 800 years. You can see it from every angle as you approach the town as it sits loftily upon it's hill in right in the centre of the town. The castle is actually a keep and along with it's beautiful grounds and fascinating museum, makes for an interesting and fun filled day out, not to be missed on any trip to the town.
The museum has actually just undergone a massive £3.5 milliom makeover and the results are already proving to be successful as it has already recieved a tourism award for this year; 'Best Small Visitor Attraction of the Year'. It's a much deserved accolade.
The keep itself was built in the 12th century although it was damaged during the civil war and then restored in 1848 to what you see today. It has the somewhat dubious title of being the second smallest Norman keep in England, although it is still quite impressive in it's size, especially when you consider it in its location in a small town in Lancashire. You can fully explore the keep, being able to walk inside and out and can take some pretty impressive pictures, both of the inside and outside of the castle as well as the miles of green scenery in the distance.
There is plenty to do in the gardens around the keep. A walk around makes for a pleasant experience as the gardens themselves are beautifully maintained. Although if you do need something to do, there is plenty including a crown green bowling pitch, children's playgrounds, the first labyrinth in Lancashire and, strangely enough, a skateboarding park that looks quite impressive. The crown green bowling pitch has a small cafe adjacent to it where you can buy light refreshments to enjoy in the gardens. There are also lots of benches and tables scattered around the grounds so you can enjoy your own picnic. There are also large expanses of grassy areas so you can bring a picnic blanket and perhaps a ball and while away the hours with small children.
There is also the museum itself which provides a fascinating and engaging look at the history of the keep. Thanks to its recent renovation, everything is new and there are brightly coloured pictures everywhere showing the keep's history. It is fairly small, but this is reflected in the modest entry price. There are probably too many words for small children, but the museum is geared towards learning and to that effect, it is often the destination of school trips. Entry to the musuem is £3.50 or £2.50 for concessions and it is open all week long from 11am until 5pm in summer and from midday until 4pm in winter. There is another cafe and charming gift shop next to the museum.
One of my favourite things about the museum though was the courtyard outside which is free to enter. It is filled with large scale experiments that look at light, sound and space and are excellent fun for all. The experiments are the kind that are fun, but that will engage even young children with things like light distortion through a periscope and a very primitive telephone type thing that will having you looking like a wally when you yell down the funnel to the person listening at the other end!
No trip to Clitheroe should be without a trip to the castle, it really is a fun and educational place that will please young and old alike. If nothing else, you should go for the views of the castle keep and the surrounding Ribble Valley - stunning!