Newest Review: ... opening times and special events can be found on the website http://www.harlech.com/ There is limited parking right near the castle, whic... more
Men of Harlech - and Me!
Harlech Castle (Wales)
Member Name: karenuk
Harlech Castle (Wales)
Advantages: Beautiful, good value for money, lots to see.
Disadvantages: Not accessible for wheelchairs or pushchairs, lots of stairs, didn't feel safe on the highest levels
We just spent a week's holiday staying in a pretty country cottage in Wales, in a village eight miles from Betws-y-Coed. While we were there, we went out every day doing sightseeing and visiting some of the attractions of the area. Both my fiancé and I love castles, so we were keen to visit a couple of Welsh ones during the week and one of those we visited was Harlech Castle, which was about 35 miles from where we were staying.
I hadn't been there before and Harlech was a good place to visit too, a very picturesque area. The Castle is obviously the main attraction. It was built by Edward I in the late 13th Century. There is a small exhibition in part of the castle, which explains its history. It cost us £3.80 each to go in and our baby was free. Current prices, opening times and special events can be found on the website http://www.harlech.com/ There is limited parking right near the castle, which was full when we went, but we found another car park (and with toilets) only a few minutes' walk away.
Some castles are accessible by wheelchair and pushchairs (Conwy Castle is one), but Harlech Castle is only really suitable for the able-bodied and quite fit, as there are a lot of steps and stairs to negotiate. I wouldn't recommend it for toddlers either, as some of it seemed rather dangerous to me and I wouldn't be happy with little ones running around. My fiancé had our six-month-old son strapped to him in the baby sling and this was ideal, as he was safe and secure and it meant we could go wherever we wanted, without trying to get a pushchair there.
It is a beautiful castle and there is a lot to see, especially if you are happy to go exploring. I went up to the top level twice at two different points. However I am scared of heights so once I'd reached the top, I couldn't do much except stand rooted to the spot and take a couple of photos! My fiancé is much more adventurous than I am and he wanted to walk across the walkways, but I felt they were too high up and did not have enough wall either side for me to feel safe.
There are a lot of windy stairs to climb up if you want to fully explore the castle and these were manageable, especially as they helpfully had hand rails or rope to help you. It was quite hard work though and the next day, my knees were aching a lot, so if you have any health issues, you may wish to take this into consideration. To get into the castle from where you pay, you have to walk up quite a few steps and it only gets worse!
The shop is situated in the part where you go in and pay, and this is also the way you exit. It is quite small, but has the usual souvenirs you would expect - postcards, T-shirts, guide books, etc. It wasn't too over-priced and I bought some postcards there. There are toilets situated near the shop - unsurprisingly, down more stairs!
The views from all over the castle are amazing and there are some great photographic opportunities. It was quite a wet day when we went, but you could still see for miles and I took lots of photos. It is certainly a beautiful castle and well worth seeing if you are in the area and feel you can manage it. If you want something a bit more accessible, I'd recommend Conwy Castle instead as we went there another day, took our son in the pushchair and although we had to carry it up and down a few steps, it was much gentler on my knees than Harlech Castle!
Summary: A beautiful castle in Wales.