The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Warwick Castle

Friday, January 18th, 2013 in Warwickshire
Warwick Castle

After weeks of working long hours and weekends, we decided to try and take a short break. I took the day off and we hopped in the car and drove to Warwick Castle. The last time I had been to Warwick Castle was back in the summer of 1996. I remembered it as being quite stunning and was rather excited to visit once again.

We arrived late in the afternoon—late starts are all we seem to get these days—and I was worried we wouldn’t have time to see the whole castle. We scurried up the long path from the parking lot to the castle entrance, paid the nearly £30 entry fee and sprinted through the barbican hoping to make the most of the two hours we had before closing.

View of historic Warwick from the top of Guy’s Tower.

The first thing we did was climb to the top of the 39-meter-tall Guy’s Tower. I read in our guidebook that the tower was built in the 14th century, which makes it pretty darned old. What was more apparent to us though, was that it was desperately cold. A sharp, damp wind convinced us not to linger for too long atop the tower. We snapped some photos of the various views—the castle grounds, the historic parts of Warwick and the River Avon—before scrambling back down the tower’s many winding steps.

The State Dining Room. George IV, Edward VII, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert have all dined in this room.

We decided to try and warm up by exploring some of the indoor exhibits—even though I’m not entirely convinced it’s appropriate to describe the inside of a castle as indoors. We started with the gaol—in hindsight not a good place to start—and continued on to the Kingmaker—a museum-like exhibit that depicts Mediaeval Warwick at the time Richard Neville was preparing himself and his castle for battle. We then toured the Great Hall and the State Rooms, which were all quite interesting and well presented.

We finished our visit with a short walk around the oldest part of the castle grounds, the Mound, which was first constructed in 1068 under the orders William the Conqueror. We spent a total of about ninety minutes at the castle before we exhausted all there was to do. I must say I was a bit disappointed. The castle didn’t live up to my memory of it. It seemed smaller and more carnival-like. Large portions of the castle interiors were closed for the winter. The cafeteria wasn’t even open, which meant we couldn’t get a lousy £3 cup of tea to warm up. It was nice to see Warwick Castle again, but I suspect it will be a long while before we return.

View of the Mound from atop Guy’s Tower.
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At one point the trail disappears onto an exposed stretch of granite. I continue to walk for few minutes across the rock and come to the other side. The giant slab ends at a steep drop-off.