Andy Mossack visits Warwick Castle on its first day back open since lockdown and finds plenty of dragon action.
Zog was looking particularly pleased with himself. He had just completed a photocall with my 3-year-old grandson who was almost speechless with excitement. What with his new sword and shield, a golden star for completing his dragon training, a chat with a real princess, and hanging for a snap with Zog, well, life really couldn’t get much better for this little boy.
Having said that, I was excited to be here myself, after all, it’s not every day you get the chance to visit a castle with such an illustrious back story. This is a seriously proper castle by the River Avon. Originally built as a wooden fortress by William The Conqueror in 1068, it had a stone rebuild in the Middle Ages and played a central military role during the Hundred Years War. It’s been home to kings and queens, dukes, duchesses, and earls. My word, those walls could tell a story or two. You get the gist.
Such an extraordinary location practically sells itself, however, Merlin Entertainment has managed to add its own array of magic dust elevating this to a seriously fun day out. 64 acres of beautifully cultivated grounds are home to a cast of supporting characters from knights on horses to roaming royals and even a few stunning peacocks.
Zog’s 3D interactive activity trail is the new headline attraction; a training school to master the essential dragon skills of roaring, flying, and fire breathing, learning to sword fight with Sir Gadabout and capture a princess. But it’s not all about Zog, there’s some additional outdoor activities taking place in the shadow of the castle walls. The Falconer Quest offers up a fine falconry display with over 60 birds of prey while the Bowman Zone helps you hone your archery ability. The Horrible Histories Hedge Maze is a fun way for kids to learn about different iconic moments in history while trying to navigate their way through time and eventually their way out.
The pandemic sadly robbed us of the chance to explore the castle interior where there would usually be interactive shows and tours of the Great Hall, the dungeons, and staterooms. Nevertheless, we still crossed the moat and entered the central courtyard, where we enjoyed a picnic on trestle tables and steaming cups of coffee from the takeaway outlet. Not the full castle experience granted, but we still got a buzz from being inside those ancient walls. And there was still time to clamber up the winding pathway of the Conqueror’s Fortress at the end of the courtyard and take in the countryside views from the highest point on the whole estate.
All good then, and I have to say at this point, we were blessed with a fabulous spring day and the long spells of sunshine added an extra sheen to the grounds, the Peacock Garden in particular. Here, fronted by the Grand Fountain and some remarkable peacock topiary, the 18th-century Conservatory Teahouse lay centre stage along with more than a few real strutting peacocks who seemed to revel in the company of real people once more. The feathers were out on full display as were the three-tiered afternoon teas on the terrace.
This was a great family day out, made all the better of course after months of lockdown. With the lifting of outdoor restrictions, it felt a little odd to be amongst people once again, but there was a comforting air of normalcy about it.
Warwick Castle has such a lot going for it and I want to get another taste when the brakes come off completely. There’s also the added bonus of overnight stays too with medieval glamping, woodland lodges, or even suites within one of the castle’s towers. But that’s for another day perhaps.
Suffice to say my little grandson dreamt of knights, dragons, and castles all the way back home.
Tell Me More about visiting Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6AH
Open 10 am – 5 pm daily
T: 01926 406610
Child tickets from £8 and Adults from £12, when booked in advance
Special Parent & Toddler ticket (toddler – children up to 5 years of age) £12 – when booked in advance. Available on Mon-Thurs between 19th April – 13th May.