Perched on a dramatic craggy hillside overlooking the Cheshire countryside sits a mammoth feat of Medieval architecture. A windy Saturday outing took us to Beeston Castle for a weekend wandering and some bracing winds. Having been on the books for a while, its was time to tick this atmospheric ruin off our challenge checklist.
Passing through the village on the way to the castle, another castle peeks its way through the trees and sits on the opposite hillside. I’d like to imagine two people with binoculars waving to each other from the castle windows of each as they bedded down for the night. Sadly though, with a few hundred years between them, that might not have worked.
The village itself is a lovely sight with a mismatch of old and new buildings living alongside each other. Think dramatic slanting roofs with colourfully painted Tudor-style timber buildings amid the lovely English countryside. Park your car up opposite the gatehouse for your first glimpse of the estate and the newer yet charming entrance building.
Passing through the entrance (with an astounding amount of historically-themed board games), you will reach a crossroads. The road to the left takes you towards the property’s cave system, probably best for a warm day! Take the path to your right, through the leaf-strewn arched pathway leading through the trees or the more exposed raised pathway. If you are not a walker, you might struggle with this bit. The climb up is pretty steep and we were a bit out of puff as we made the ascent! If you are visiting on a wet day, you definitely need to make sure you are kitted out in wet weather footwear, the path up to Beeston Castle looks like it could get a bit squelchy!
Half way up your climb you will reach the outer castle walls. Having had a settlement on the site since the bronze age, Beeston Castle naturally occupies a raised position with barriers created to ensure a strategic defence from any would-be attackers. Having needed to defend itself at many points, some times more successful than others, you can imagine how those foot soldiers would have felt making the climb all the way up to attack the castle.
Step out among these walls, never fully completed and you will be treated to your first views across the dramatic landscape. A higgledy piggledy array of large scale rock, jutting out over the edge, this is the perfect place to take a seat on the benches to look out over the view.
Carry on up the slope across either the grassy verge to your left, along the crumbling walls, or straight up the steep bank until you reach the main event. Towering before you is the grand entrance, a curved bridge leading up to the giant wooden doors that beckon you in.
Step right through the castle doors and you will find yourself on the craggy heights of the great mound that homes Beeston Castle. From here you can see all the way to the Pennines, not to mention the beautiful countryside that lies in between. Look out for the Welsh mountains on a clear day for some cracking views. With a mental note to return here in the summer, the grounds looking perfect for a summer picnic, we made our rounds of the numerous nooks and crannies the castle affords.
Hosting one of the deepest wells in England, rumour has it that buried somewhere deep below the historic Beeston Castle is the treasure of King Richard II. Sadly, we didn’t find any hidden treasure there today. We did however find some of the most spectacular views of Cheshire and beyond from the towering heights of the castle walls. Laid seige to and destroyed during the civil war, only walls remain of a castle that became largely uninhabited. The last owner built the neighbouring Peckforton Castle on the hillside to the south so that he could live in comfort, overlooking the romantic ruins of Beeston Castle before him.
Looking for more Midlands days out? Take a look at some of my other outings from the region and beyond here. Not heard about the English Heritage Challenge yet? Read all about it and everything I have been up to here.