“ Address: Castle Hill / Conisbrough / Doncaster DN12 3BU / South Yorkshire / Tel: 01709 863 329 „
Currently I am sat in the living room of two of the coolest people I have ever met, (mine and the other half's best friends), having made the trip from Weston-Super-Mare to York to visit them for a week. Although normally when we visit we just "hang out" and enjoy the limited time we have together this time I had decided to do the tourist thing and visit some attractions near by. On of the places I decided to visit was Coinsbrough Castle which chose as it had "Clash of Knights" event on.
Now I am the worst person in the world for directions but I do know that we travelled to Coinsbrough from York by car and it took just under an hour - there were no delays due to traffic and it was early afternoon on a Saturday. My friend was driving and had no problems what-so-ever finding the place using the sat-nav app. on her phone. Once we were close there were the usual brown attraction signs to help us hone in on the exact location of the castle. The castle keep is visible from quite a distance as well so you no when you get near.
There is more information on how to get there at http://www.conisbroughcastle.org.uk/ via road, bus, rail or flight. The postcode is DN12 3BU if you want to look it up on google maps or on your sat-nav.
There is small car park at the bottom of the hill that the castle is situated on as well as another car park further up the hill for the use of disabled people, staff, school groups etc. We got a parking space but only after waiting for someone else to leave and the parking spots are tight to get in and out of, especially if someone has usefully parked in the space designated for turning around in. There is no charge for the car-park.
In terms of disabled access I would say that it would be near pointless for someone with physical disabilities visiting this castle. The hill approaching it is very steep and the ground, being mostly ruins, is very uneven and it would be easy to loose your footing and difficult for a non off-road wheelchair to handle. The Keep is the only part of the castle that is not ruined and you can only access that by a fairly narrow and steep set of concrete stairs that enter the tower on the first floor level. The stairs do have a hand rail but it is a little wobbly. Once inside the rooms are small, dark and the the floors are uneven and there are plenty of sets of stone stairs to contend with.
I suffer from terrible phobias regarding suspended floors, bridges, stairs etc. and despite managing the stairs, (I am serious proud of myself for that one), and going up a couple of sets of stone stairs inside I came to room where the floor had a gap all around the edge and could not physically force myself to take a step into the room. At that point I had a massive panic attack and had to get back down as quickly as I could. I am only mentioning this because I know other people have these phobias and it is always best to be fore-warned about these kinds of things. I would hazard a guess that people with claustrophobia would also find the interior of the keep difficult to deal with too.
The Ruins and The Keep:
The ruins are pretty well ruined consisting mostly of a "series of small walls", a few bigger bits of wall and a incredibly well preserved cell and latrine. I find old walls pretty interesting and enjoy feeling something made by people so long ago. The Keep has been refurbished and is a pretty unique shape being round with a series of square towers around the edge giving the impression of a kind of hexagonal shape. It's made from a beautifully pale, almost white stone and looks very impressive. The entrance being located at first floor level and the lack of windows, save for a few arrow slits, hints at it's incredible defensibility as does the great location at the top of a hill.
I don't really want to go into the history and story of the castle because I don't want to spoil it for people who want to visit but I found what I learnt there interesting and fun. It's a good place for kids as they can learn a bit, see some great history in context and still be able to run around in open space - all the kids there had big smiles on their faces.
The Escafeld Mediaeval Society:
On the day we were there was a "Medieval Clash of Knights" preformed by the Escafeld Mediaeval Society which was good to watch and more than made up for my disappointment of not being able to see all of the Keep. There was archery, dancing and the best bit for me, people hitting each other with full weight weapons.
We didn't arrive until about 2.30 so we missed medieval cooking and leather working, a living history presentation and the archery. We did get to see the kids arming the knights, (actually the kids there were all wonderful and in between displays ran around having sword fights of their own with the foam weapons sold in the gift shop - it was basically a grand-melee of about 15 kids and was, in many ways, more fun to watch than the display itself), the dancing and the tournament itself.
It was presented in an engaging and humorous way and encouraged audience participation which made the thing feel more authentic.
1 would recommend seeing the Escafeld Mediaeval Society if you get the chance and you can check their website at http://www.escafeld.org.uk.
Pricing and Facilities:
I think the prices for visiting Coinsbrough Castle is very reasonable and they are as follows:
Children (6 to16) £2.70
Children (0 to 5) FREE
Family (2+2or3) £11.70
English Heritage FREE
If you go on to join English Heritage you get a refund of your admission. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/support-us.
There is a gift-shop at the castle which sells coffee and ice cream as well as the normal souvenirs. The prices are a little steep as is normal, (I paid £2.20 for a pewter topped pencil and £2.00 for a ruler featuring a time-line of England), but the guide book which interesting and features a map and lot's of black and white photos was only £1.99 which I thought was great value for something to remember our trip by.
There are visitor toilets but these were filthy and stank, to be fair there were loads of kids there on this day due to the Knights tournament and it was a hot day but I still wasn't impressed. I did not notice if there were separate toilets for disabled visitors.
There were signs to a tea-house but we had brought a picnic so we didn't use it.
I really enjoyed my day out at Coinsbrough Castle and would definitely recommend it for people in the area. They run lot's of events so it is worth checking the website for upcoming events if you are planning a trip there.