“ Situated high on the cliffs overlooking Watermouth Bay, Watermouth Castle is a unique family attraction where a whole day can be spent enjoying the entertainment and fun designed for all ages. „
Watermouth Castle is a theme park just outside Ilfracombe in Devon aimed at families with young children. As well as a number of indoor attractions (such as an illluminated fountain display and various dungeons) the park boast several rides, all of which are firmly aimed at younger children.
Visitors gain entrance to the park via the castle, which has a number of displays as well as a fascinating collection of old slot machines. There is a dungeon as well as a small maze made of iron bars to keep the kids occupied for a while. The whole indoor section is extremely well done, and I found it to be one of the best bits of our visit.
Once inside there are a number of rides aimed at children aged 4-8 as well as attractively laid-out gardens. There is a restaurant area as well as adventure play areas, all of which are included in the admission price.
For us the biggest "no-no" was the pushchair situation.
Put simply, you can only access the grounds via the castle, and pushchairs are not allowed in the castle building. You have to leave your pushchair at the front door, forcing you to carry any smaller children and babies through the castle exhibits (not exactly a "short hop"...) Your pushchair will be labelled and left at a collection point in the park, presenting potential thieves with two clear opportunities to steal your extremely expensive property. It's not like the pushchairs are left at the exit to the castle, either; you have to walk up a flight of steep steps to retrieve your property.
It wouldn't be so bad if you could bypass the castle bit, but it is compulsory...
The park boasts something like "you pay at the door, and then no more" which is a little misleading, as the vast array of vintage slot machines are not free.
The restaurant is a little pricey, and only provides "burger and chips"-typed food. The seating area outside the restaurant is way too small.
The park itself is extremely hilly, making visits to some of the rides something of a hike.
We actually quite liked the park, but would advise anyone with pushchairs to seriously consider waiting untill their offspring could do without a pushchair.
Another day off for my husband and another day trip with the family, this time to a place he used to visit frequently as a child. I always remember him talking about it and what a great time they always had but his descriptions did it little justice and I was reluctant to go, still he managed to convince me and off we went, kids in tow, to Watermouth castle near Ilfracombe in North Devon.
Watermouth Castle is a family fun park and museum set in the beautiful North Devon countryside. It has many attractions both within and in the grounds outside and all of it is free once you have paid your admission.
As soon as you enter the castle you are surrounded by a variety of Victorian antiques, several rooms display all manner of displays including mechanical musical toys, kitchen equipment, dolls, games, a model railway, antique vacuums, bicycles, cider making equipment and more. Throughout the park there is also a wide variety of antique slot machines and amusements.
Descending some steps leads you to the dungeon labyrinth, a series of corridors leading you past windows and doorways. Each window or door hides a surprise and pressing the button located by the window or opening the door will reveal what's inside, from animatronics displays of fairy tales and nursery rhymes to displays of what workrooms and shops would have looked like in the Victorian age. There is also the maze which is a small maze made up of lots of iron bars like a prison, some of the bars are made of rubber and it is through those that you make your way through the maze.
Gnome land is a delightful area made up of log cabins each featuring an animatronics display of Gnome work or family life. In Gnome land you can pan for gold and exchange it for a special Watermouth castle golden coin. There is also a children's play area, a tilting house, and fun tunnels hiding surprises like the wicked troll.
In this section you will find small theme park rides for younger children, water fountains, the snake tube slide, a maze, shadow barrels, a rolling bridge, crazy snooker and more all set amongst the beautiful gardens and water displays.
Play on the crazy golf, ride the 100 meter "big river ride" or let the kids play in the adventure playground. There is also the spinning cooking pot ride and sea lion water-go-round to keep you entertained.
A small courtyard eating area with picnic tables over looked by "goosey gander" and his band, another animatronics display. Here you can get a range of snacks, visit the cream tea shop, the gift shop and the Water Show.
As well as the courtyard eating area there is also The Waffle Barrel an eating area and small playground between Gnome land and Merrygoland.
Prices & opening Times-
Adults (14+) £10.50
Children (3+) £9.00
Senior Citizens £7.50
Under 3's Free
4 or more Saver Ticket = 50p off per ticket
Watermouth Castle opens seasonally and the opening hours change depending on the month, it is closed all Saturdays. The standard opening times are-
Earliest opening- 10am
Last admission- 3.30pm
Gates Close- 6.30pm
This is for peak seasons and other times may vary, opening later on a morning and closing earlier. Check their website for the precise times for your chosen day- www.watermouthcastle.com. The castle is open from April until the end of October.
As I said at the beginning I was very reluctant to go to the castle, while I enjoy our days out and visiting different attractions this one really didn't appeal to me. I was pleasantly surprised though and we had a really good time. The first thing you notice is how beautiful the place is, the castle is set in stunning grounds and woodland with it's parking on the battlements and within the forest, all parking is free of charge which is great if you're in a big group and already paying out lots of money.
As you reach the doorway of the castle you are made aware that buggies and prams are not allowed within the castle, instead a member of staff labels your buggy and then transports it to the outdoor area of the castle where you can pick it up after you have been through the museum. This didn't make sense at first but when I actually went through the rooms, tunnels and down the various steps I realised that it was actually a very good idea and helpful that staff took care of it for you rather than you having to drop off the buggy and return to the entrance.
At £10.50 each for my husband and I and free entry for our children I initially thought it was quite expensive, however after having our day there and enjoying all the attractions I think it's a fair price, after all parking is free, the rides and attractions are free and the food is very reasonably priced.
We walked around the museum section of the castle taking in all the displays and playing with the model railway and various Victorian mechanical toys, Christopher loved the kitchen display where there were surprise displays in the cupboards and oven as well as working knife grinders, churns and a pump sink. Down into the dungeons and admittedly the kids got a bit freaked out, the tunnels are quite enclosed and echo, it is also a bit darker in there despite all the lights, we tried to encourage them to press all the buttons for the displays but needed to be careful because one features a witch, another has a buzzing handle and we thought if they were already freaked out then these displays wouldn't help. We tried our hand at the maze and had great fun trying to fight our way through the iron and rubber bars.
As we got outside we located the buggy and took the walk to Gnome land, the walkway is dotted by barrels, each with a bird themed animatronics display within, this time the kids enjoyed pressing all the buttons and watching the displays although some of the characters were a bit rough round the edges and the music was tinny with age. Gnome land itself was a huge hit with the kids, once again more buttons and displays, Christopher had a ball on the water shooting game, which cost a whopping 10p (pricing is unbelievably reasonable) and we spent a little time operating the mini digger scooping up piles of brightly coloured balls and depositing them n their bucket, then we panned for gold finding our 5 little pieces of metal amongst the water and sand then feeding them (and 20p) into the machine to exchange them for our gold coins, wet sleeves and 2 coins later we take in the rest of the displays and wander down to the Waffle Barrel eating area for a spot of lunch.
There are more of the old fashioned amusment machines on the way past the shop and courtyard eating area, including the familiar penny fall style machines and one arm bandits. The one complaint everyone seemed to have about this part was that they have a machine where you can personalise a silver/gold coloured medallion/coin unfortunately it did not seem to be working properly, although you didn't find that out until you had put in you money and gone through the process of entering your personalised message.
The food is very reasonably priced which is amazing as it is freshly made to order. It's not fancy, being served on paper plastic and polystyrene cups (at least it's recyclable) and couldn't really be classed as a main meal however you can get chips, sandwich's, waffles, toasties, baguettes, home made ice cream, snacks and hot or cold drinks. For £2.55 for a cheese toastie (other flavours were available) and £2.95 for a waffle with syrup and ice cream as well as a tray of chips (which I can't remember the price) and a bunch of drinks our meal actually came in under £10, a bargain for a family of 4. The eating areas, despite being outside, are all smoke free which made for a far more pleasant eating experiences then we would have had surrounded by smokers.
As far as other "facilities" go there are many toilets and baby change areas throughout the castle all very well maintained, the toilets within the castle feature different styles of warped mirror for amusements sake, it did throw me off abit though when I was going into the ladies and I almost walked ino the door! There are lots of disabled access gates even if much of the park isn't wheelchair friendly however there are ramps as well as steps leading to a lot of the areas. Credit cards are taken at the gate but not in the food areas, they do however offer cash back when you enter allowing you to purchase food and drink should you desire, this is helpful if you've forgotten to take cash with you.
We didn't go to Adventure land but we did take the kids to Merrygoland, where Christopher had great fun on their small carousel, there were other kids rides including planes and swing boats but our kids are a bit little (basically I was too scared to let him on them) We also went on the rolling bridge, you enter into a hut and you can see this barrel turning around, over and under the bridge, you walk through the barrel over the bridge which is surrounded by mirrors. Dave loved it but I felt really sick and had to make a quick exit, the kids weren't bothered by it they just liked pulling faces in the mirrors.
We played on the crazy golf, where Christopher fluked a hole in one, much to the pride of his father, this area was quite busy but it was a lot of fun and at a cost of a £1 rental fee for the ball (which was returned when you took the ball back) it was worth putting up with the other visitors. As well as all that Dave became a child and went on the drop slide, we played on many of the old fashioned slot machines (there were a lot of change machines around to swap your £1's for smaller coins) enjoyed the water displays and fountains and spent an awful lot of money in the gift shop on fudge and souvenirs. The fudge, I should tell you, is quite famous as the best in the country and the shop stocks a variety of flavours all freshly made and delicious, the shops souvenirs range widely from branded gifts and nick knacks, to jewellery, soft toys and gifts.
Several hours flew by in what seemed like minutes and we had a fantastic time. There are so many different things to see and hands on experiences. The atmosphere was lovely with lots of other families enjoying themselves. Apart from the entry fee, food and souvenirs we barely spent anything because the attractions were free and the slot machines etc ranged between 1p and 10p, so it really was a good value for money attraction, we had a great day out all 4 of us and only spent £40 despite all that we saw and did. It is a great family day out, not necessarily a place to visit for adults on their own as most of the enjoyment comes from watching the kids have fun, it's easier to play all the kiddies games when you actually have kiddies with you!
As I said before some of the animatronics are a bit worn but then they are rather old, this doesn't take away from the kid's enjoyment though. Overall, however, the place is very well maintained and seemed clean, I didn't see a piece of litter in the grounds at all and staff were buzzing round all the time emptying the many bins and keeping the place up-together. I can't actually find anything to complain about with the castle, I suppose some of the areas are out of bounds to wheelchair users, which could be inconvenient and we did have to carry Elsa around some of the steeper areas and steps because yes she can walk but her legs aren't that long!
It truly was a lovely day full of smiling and laughter, I would not hesitate to go again next year (you don't want to go too often otherwise the novelty might wear off) I would definitely recommend it for families, yes we travelled a long way to visit the castle but it truly was worth it.
Watermouth Castle is a castle and adventure park aimed at younger children. The castle is situated on the A399 between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin in Devon on the coastal road. A bus can be caught from Ilfracombe or Barnstaple. The castle is magnificent and overlooks Watermouth Bay, a small harbour. Prices for admission: Adults £8.50, children (3-13 years) £7.00, children under 3 go free. Once the ticket it purchased, all rides and attractions in the park are free, except for the slot machines, food shops and gift shops. The park is divided into six areas; which I will explain as we go along. The first area to visit is the actual castle. When we arrived we entered through the Great Hall, where there were some great suits of armour on display. Just a note for those of you visiting with buggies or prams. These will have to be left at the front of the castle and they will be transported to the gardens by the guides, for when you have finished the castle part of the tour. We were then shown into the music room and a guide ran through the various musical instruments exhibited in the room. There were some fantastic items on display, including old banjos, mechanical pianos and organs, and young children were called out to help with the working of the instruments. After the guide had finished, we were then left to our own devices to wander around the rest of the castle. I did feel this part of the tour was slightly rushed, and at some points the guide spoke so fast, Amber had difficulty understanding what he was saying. However, for the younger children, this part of the tour could be boring, so maybe the guides are told to get it over with quickly. The model railway room held no interest at all for me I?m afraid. The room was dominated by a large model railway which you could walk around. However, this was a popular part of the castle, and was jam packed with people gazing at the trains. The next room we visit
ed was more my cup of tea - the kitchen!! There were some fantastic old relics on display here such as butter churners, an old range cooker complete with flat iron and a wonderful old washing machine, which was basically a large churn, turned by a handle to wash the clothes. There is a large tin bath in the kitchen, in which is sat a model of a man having a bath. Some of the figures on display are very lifelike, and we have some great pictures from our visit. Next we moved on to a room, rather like a cupboard, which was completely full of old vacuum cleaners. Going downstairs, we entered what was supposed to be the dungeon. This was not in the remotest bit frightening, unless you are a complete wuss and a lot of the dungeon area was actually taken up with old coin amusement machines, which have been redesigned to accept post decimal coinage. Our kids were fascinated with these, even though compared to todays playstations and gamecubes, these were so basic! There is also an area in the dungeon where there is a small maze, but it is very easy to find your way out!!!! Another favourite for our children was the funny mirror section, particularly the one where Steve?s head was shaped like an egg and his legs were about two inches high!! There was also a cycle exhibition in this part of the castle, which appealed to both of our children. The biggest part of the dungeon was devoted to looking through the windows of old worlde village shops and seeing dummies re-enacting the crafts of bygone days. As we left the dungeon area, we walked into the bright sunshine and on the right is a small theatre in which is staged a water show. The shows are timed for every half an hour, and each show lasts for 20 minutes. This was great, and with the aid of water jetting out in different designs, and lights, the show was quite impressive. Leaving the theatre, we now enter the Watermouth Fayre. This is a section with a couple of shops selling gifts, a c
afé selling Cornish pasties, salads and sandwiches and a fast food joint. One of the shops sold the most wonderful Devon fudge in some amazing flavours, which cost £1.25 for 100g. Well worth a try, especially the chocolate orange flavour! After we had stopped for a quick drink and a Cornish pasty, we moved on to the Merrygoland area. This was accessed via a nice path surrounded by woodland. Sign posts gave details of the various plants, trees and flowers along the route. There were three small rides in this area, a merry go round, a flying aeroplane carousel and small boat ride. All rides were suitable for children aged 3-13 years, although Jack (aged 12) had a hell of a job to squeeze himself into any of the carriages. Within the Merrygoland area, there was a large snake slide, of the type that the children had to take a sack to the top, and sit in it to come down the slide. This was probably the most hair raising ride in the whole park!!! The water gardens were very pleasant and there were lots of fountains to look at. The rolling bridge attraction was a large barrel through which you had to walk. The kids found his highly amusing as it made everyone completely dizzy!! Moving on to Gnomeland, which I have to say for my children was very boring. I do remember taking Jack here aged 3 and he was enthralled by this little village. There are lots of log cabins in which the gnomes live with lost of little signs along the way, telling you about the lives of the gnomes. For instance, did you know that male gnomes wear red hats and the females green? The tilting house in this area was great, the house actually sloped down and when we tried to walk in it, the feeling was very strange indeed. In Gnomeland, the children enjoyed the panning for gold. Once they had found four pieces, this could be swapped for a ?golden? coin via a machine. The last section of the park to visit was Adventure Land. In the leaflet, a new Big River ride
was advertised, so we were looking forward to this at the end of the day as at least the children would get wet! We had a walk around the maze but unfortunately didn?t manage to lose either of the children, despite Steve and I running off in opposite directions. We then had a game of crazy golf on the nine hole course. We had to pay a £1 deposit per ball but nothing for the clubs. This was advertised as ?fountain? golf so we expected to get wet but no????.the only soaking was a small fountain at the beginning of the course. The kids by this time were getting a bit peeved to say the least and we avoided the tame looking sea lion water ride like the plague. This was just a roundabout on water. At last we approached the big river ride hoping to get a soaking. But our hopes were dashed, as the only soaking we had was a very fine mist of water as we rounded the last bend!!! So my verdict? Great if you have young children. The last time I had visited the castle my three had been young, Amber a baby, Jack three and Rob six. This time Amber at eight was even too old for the attractions, as she loves all the big theme park rides, the scarier the better. This is not a place for older kids, they will get bored and the rides are too tame. Mine did enjoy the castle part, but they both are very interested in history. If your children aren?t, my advice is don?t bother taking them!!! Telephone 01271 867474 Fax: 01271 865864 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.watermouthcastle.com