Today we went to visit what has been termed ‘the loveliest Castle in the world’ and to be perfectly honest, I do think I would find it very hard to find one to match up! Everywhere we turned there was a stunning view and we simply fell in love with the place.
We visited on a week day during term time and although it wasn’t heaving, it was still busier than I expected it to be. It seems we arrived at the same time as about eight coaches so we thought we would be fighting for space inside, however due to the vast grounds and the way Leeds Castle must manage the large groups, we struggled to understand where all the people went!
Parking was easy for us and once we were all ready to go, we found our way to reception. They have very conveniently placed toilets here as well so decided a quick nappy change would be a good idea for the children to make sure we didn’t get stung later down the line.
Entry costs £26 per adult (Holly and Liam were free as they are under 4) and this becomes your annual ticket for entry. Whilst we were paying we also noticed some bird feed and never wanting to miss an opportunity for Holly we bought some as well.
We walked down the winding pathway and instantly we were struck with the beauty of the location. The grounds are so well kept and luscious looking, your mood instantly lifts as you are transported into the most tranquil walkway.
As we came to the first small lake we couldn’t contain Holly’s excitement at the prospect of feeding the ducks and swans. I’m really glad my husband was with us, as it turns out I don’t actually like them. I seem to recall a very faded memory of my brother being bitten by a swan and that must have stuck with me, there was no way I was feeding the swan no matter how much Ian tried to convince me too!
So as not to use up all the bird feed we decided to continue along the pathway, trying to take in as much of the scenery as possible, whilst also not making our toddler bored by stopping to explore each different type of blossom tree. We came across an impressive dragon carved into a tree and we were also treated to an amazing display of a peacock fanning out its feathers.
Holly was really excited to find the castle and after walking through the Wood Gardens and finding ourselves by the Pavilion Lawn we caught our first glimpse of the castles stone walls. As we reached the top of the hill (well I call it a hill but Ian probably wouldn’t go that far, then again I was pushing the buggy!) we saw it in all it’s glory and it really is such an impressive sight.
I was instantly transported to thinking I was around in Henry VIII’s time and could picture myself enjoying the grounds as some sort of Queen (obviously not wanting to be one of his queens though!). We decided to take a quick look at the castle, however as it was coming up to feed time for Liam, we decided against going in so as not to create a scene – good thing those tickets let us back in.
We decided to bring a picnic with us today, however if you would like to purchase food and drink you can do so at the Castle View restaurant which also has a Costa Coffee as well if you need a caffeine boast. There’s ample picnic seating in the courtyard which was ideal, and to brighten up our lunchtime experience even more we were joined by a lovely white peacock looking for any scraps it could find.
After lunch we continued on through the Culpeper Gardens, which again were just exquisite. Holly likened the garden to her Grandad’s so he has obviously impressed her! When we came out the other side Holly’s excitement levels rose again as she saw a castle of a different kind – The Knights Stronghold Playground, Leeds Castle’s newest attraction.
Walking past the birds of prey area and the garden maze we came to the playground areas. I think it’s really clever where they have positioned the park as you have a lovely journey getting there and the children are rewarded with an amazing playground.
As Holly is only 2 we started off in the Squires Courtyard Playground. It’s set up perfectly with swings, a mini zip wire, climbing frames, slides and tunnels to run through. Holly was whizzing around enjoying every moment.
We then decided to take a look at the new playground and what an impressive build that is! The wooden structure has been purpose built for 6-14 year old’s. Holly did her best to make the most of this space. She enjoyed the swings and the musical instruments and surprised me by crossing a rope bridge.
Our time was now done, so we decided to stroll back to the car park taking a different route back. There is so much to explore at Leeds Castle, we only really scratched the surface on our visit today. I can’t wait to go back now to view the inside of the Castle, complete the maze, have a go on the new crazy golf course, take a look at some of the other pretty gardens oh and catch a bird of prey show!
Until next time….