Access-Out-There’s first foray into Wales was to Chirk Castle. We were based for a long weekend in Shrewsbury, on the last day of which we went out there crossing the border into the Clwyd countryside. It was a grey but dry early April day when we found the National Trust’s Chirk Castle on a hill outside the village of Chirk which is between Llangollen and Oswestry. The A5 connects these two towns and the Castle can be found by following the brown signs from this road.
A long driveway directed us to the car park where there were six blue badge parking spaces. The car park had a stony surface but the disabled parking was near the path to the visitor centre. We disembarked and went into the reception where after a brief discussion we were told that we could take the car up the hill to the entrance of the castle if we wanted, this would save us a long haul up the hill. As an alternative a shuttle-bus service was also available although it didn’t look as though it would be easy to get Titania on board. So on this occasion we got back into the car and drove up and parked by the gates to the castle.
Chirk Castle was built in the 14th Century by Edward I as part of his of his subjugation of the Welsh. It has a rich 700 year history where it has been owned and used in different ways. It stands in a 480 acre estate of parkland and woodland which can be explored. As with many National Trust properties Chirk Castle has an “Access Statement” which is a great document giving advice about the accessibility of the property and grounds. You have to hunt for it on the website – or alternatively you can just follow this link ...
Our day out there at Chirk started walking through the gates and along the gravelled paths round the front of the Castle venturing into the outbuildings where we found the historic laundry. The entrance to this area was well ramped and posed no real problems to Titania. In the laundry rooms it only took a little imagination to get a sense of hustle and bustle and the hot steamy atmosphere of a busy Castle staff doing the washing.
Having left the laundry we went out to the gardens in front of the Castle. The path surface was a light gravel which was quite easy for Titania. The direct route along the front of the Castle was impeded by flights of steps but a signposted Titania friendly path took us down beside the gardens alongside the beautiful magnolias which were giving a good show. The trail wound down through the gardens to the Hawk house.
After the Hawk House we left the gravel for grass paths which took us on down the hill to the ha-ha. We ventured along here looking back up to the Castle dominating the hillside or looking the other way over the beautiful Welsh countryside.
We pressed back up the hill through the woods on tracks winding up through the trees. There were roots and muddy patches to negotiate, and we discovered that we had actually come downhill quite a way, and so gravity was no longer working in our favour! Eventually we found our way to the Gamekeepers hut in the depths of the wood.
Somewhere near the Gamekeepers hut the last battery for Titania’s eye (GoPro camera) expired after a long weekend of filming places. So unfortunately, though we didn’t realise it at the time, we have no further pictures or films of the rest of the day’s visit. The visit did continue nevertheless. We made our way from the middle of the woods to the Statue of Hercules which stands at the top of an avenue through the woods visible from the Castle and providing a focus from the Castle to view the world outside the estate.
We trekked back to rejoin the paths near the Hawk house and from there back through the gardens round to and through a cobbled archway into the Castle itself. The Castle buildings formed a square surrounding a courtyard the centre of which was grassed with tarmac paths around. Much of the Castle wasn’t suitable for Titania to access. There were steps to the Hall, and more to the State Rooms. The East Wing however had a ramped exit which Titania used as an entrance. There were 3 rooms to view there, including a Dining Room and Library. These were furnished in a 1920s style reflecting their use when they were leased by a growing family. We viewed these rooms twice as we had entered via the exit, and had to go back on ourselves to exit again!
Back out into the courtyard we next found the Servants Room which required Titania to go down one stone step. A fascinating room, with the walls covered in paintings and portraits of long gone servants. These showed the signs of the smoke and grease which had emanated from the fires and ovens in the room over the centuries. Then we were back up the step and on to Adam’s Tower. On the ground floor of this we found a volunteer guide in medieval dress who was keen to tell us all about the Tower and the dungeons which, because of steps down to the Dungeons or up to the Tower, were out of reach of Titania and therefore Richard.
By now we were ready for a cream tea. On the other side of the courtyard we found the Tea room which provided the required pot of tea and scones. The sun had broken through briefly providing enough warmth to make us believe that spring was well and truly sprung and tempting us to sit out in the courtyard to enjoy our welcome sustenance.
Chirk Castle had provided exercise, culture and a fine cup of tea. We were had thoroughly enjoyed the day out there.
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Richard & Di
30th March 2017