Northumberland Castles Challenge
This week’s Castle visit is to the very tiny village of Bothal, which has the absolutely colossal Bothal Castle in the middle of it. The village is ridiculously idyllic and has a bunch of lovely places to poke around all within spitting distance.
It is probably one of the most perfect places to visit with toddlers as the walking is minimal but the exploring potential is great. The only down side is that the castle is closed to the public for most of the year*.
I was joined by Cath and Emily again and, first thing’s first, we hunted a spot for our picnic. Obviously.
Bothal Castle – The church and Graveyard
You have never seen as much activity in one tiny place as there was when we arrived outside the castle. Fortunately this meant we could have a chat with a few people to see where we could picnic.
We were advised that the church yard was lovely and there were benches, perfect for a picnic.
And while we enjoyed a coffee, the kids explored the woods.
Bothal Castle – the Castle
After a lovely leisurely lunch in the sunshine, we trotted back to the car to don the kids’ Regatta Puddle Suits. Although the weather was lovely, there were puddles a plenty including a rather big one, which will get to in a minute!
The canapé provided by the trees on the entrance to the castle, combined with the wonderful back light from the sun (I didn’t know this myself, I had only just stopped to chat to a chap who turned out to be a photographer and he told me!) helped to create some photos I’m really pleased with. Isabella above and Reuben below. Like I said, idyllic!
Once we were through the tunnel of the castle, it lead to a wonderful open walled garden, including this fabulous mural and a huge tree with the obligatory rope swing. Perfect for a little argument about who went first.
Bothal Castle is currently within the Welbeck Estate. Reading back through some of the history, it seems to have seen very little ‘action’ in terms of being pillaged or occupied. It appears it may have been a house fortified prior to the Norman Conquest. It was then rebuilt a number of times (a lot of the existing structure was built in the 1960s!) and during a 1570s survey, it was admired for its gardens. I like that, it seems fitting as there was something about the whole village that seemed peaceful and calm.
Bothal Castle – the river and stepping stones
After a quick look around (we didn’t want to outstay our welcome!) we headed down a grassy path to the river Wansbeck. And while it still felt like summer up the hill, once we got down to the river there was a definite autumnal (that’s for you Mike – he says I’m the only person who uses Autumnal so frequently!) feel.
It was muddy, claggy with leaves and a high chance for wetness, thanks to the stepping stones across the river. Thank goodness for those puddle suits!
While it wasn’t amazingly relaxing for us mums, the kids had loads of fun by the river, throwing sticks and leaves in and watching them flow between the stepping stones, and splashing in a shallow part of the river. There is also an incredible Indiana Jones style rope bridge, but unfortunately (not) it is only accessed via private land. Shucks.
There is a path that continues on the other side of the river, however, we knew we had to get 3 toddlers back up the hill, so we headed back after they had had their fill of throwing and splashing. And after another quick coffee and a snack we went our separate ways, castle number 27 of the Northumberland Castles Challenge successfully completed!
*This is an absolutely stunning castle and I’d highly recommend a visit. For access, keep an eye on the Heritage Open Days.
What do you make of Bothal Castle? And do you use the word Autumnal or is Mike right and it’s just me?!