Another weekend, another day trip. This weekend took us in and out of the Welsh border with a quick hop over for an hour or so later on in the day. Completely hidden from view from the road, we were beginning to doubt whether there really was a castle here at all. Where was the imposing fortress the guide book has promised us? Showing our cards we wandered up the bank and as we turned the corner, we suddenly realised what all of the fuss was about.
Rebuilt by the uncle of Edward I, known himself for building mammoth constructions designed to intimidate the Welsh people, Goodrich Castle is Hereford’s prime monument, with the famous Roaring Meg even featuring among its ranks. Although ruined, much of the gigantic structure still stands ready to be explored, with a history littered with monarchs and renowned lords, and it is across the former drawbridge that we made our start.
An Imposing Medieval Entrance
Approach the grand entrance and a powerful feat of defence design greets you. A double portcullis towers above with spaces still visible for the counterweights, that’s after they have managed to get across the drawbridge in the first place. Slits in the walls either side make those approaching a direct target for firing at, whilst what seems like endless little tweaks to the entrance design seems to doom anyone daring to break their way in.
A Stylish Family Retreat
In contrast to that however, once you make your way to the interior of the castle, it all becomes just that bit more civilised. These people were the very cream of the crop, and wanted everyone to know as much, being related to Edward I is something that shouldn’t be sniffed at you know. A quaint chapel with a grand stained glass window gifted by the local community to celebrate the millennium is one of the first rooms you enter. Take a climb up to the side wall and you will find an enclosed French balcony, a remnant of the family’s own private balcony to step into.
Beguiling Arches and Atmospheric Spaces
The courtyard and surrounding spaces offer a multitude of towering archways and plunging staircases to explore, you can even take a step down into the dungeons (with the help of a torch, I suggest) as you plunge into undisturbed darkness for a minute and hear the grilled prison door shut behind you. Take another staircase and you will spot the start of a slight way to the spaces above. Ascend a dark and narrow staircase to reach the tower’s heights. Just be careful to sing or whistle a tune on the way up or down as there is no room at all to pass on the stairs and someone might end up having to retrace their steps in the dark.
Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded for your steep climb with panoramic views of the lovely countryside that surrounds the castle. Those looking for a historic day trip around the West Midlands will certainly find their due here. Bordering the lovely river Wye, it is the perfect gateway to the surrounding border towns and the perfect stop for those making their way on to Wales beyond.
And Not Too Further Beyond…
Take a short drive further and you will reach the tranquil beauty of Tintern and the famous abbey that lives there. The town itself is picturesque as it is quaint and you will be able to catch sight of the abbey from a multitude of angles as you follow the main road around to the property.
Visiting Wales? Why not tackle the highest point in England and Wales whilst you are there? Check out my handy guide to climbing Snowdon’s dreamy peak here and be sure to read my top Welsh adventures here.
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