Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire is widely accepted to be one of the most well preserved medieval castles in England. Located less than half an hour drive from the centre of Hereford, Goodrich Castle boasts views over spectacular countryside. It strikes the perfect balance between informative and authentic and better still, it’s perfect for both dogs and children.
Getting there and getting in
Goodrich Castle is an English Heritage property. I’m proud to be an ambassador for Wiki Places for Kids this year, and they’ve kindly provided us with an English Heritage membership. I’m not sure why we never invested in this before, because it’s brilliant. Family entry to Goodrich Castle is £20.80. Not a bad price, until you consider that if you buy an annual family membership to English Heritage, it works out at just £8.25 per month.
The castle is conveniently located close to the A40 about 5 miles from Ross on Wye. There’s plenty of parking available near the entrance, shop and cafe at a pay and display price of £1 per day. From there, it is a 400 metre walk up to the castle itself. Dogs are welcome everywhere except inside the café. They are fine to sit outside the café though, and dog water and treats are available.
There is disabled parking 15 metres away from the castle but only two spaces are available and you will need to notify the castle that you want to use it. There are a few adaptations to cater for visitors with mobility, sight and hearing difficulties including accessible toilets. However, the stairs are steep and parts of the castle are uneven and slippery. It is worth reading the access information before setting out to visit Goodrich Castle.
Exploring Goodrich Castle
As you approach Goodrich Castle, you can read about the entrance area and how people were made to wait there before being allowed in. It’s not one of these places with staff around everywhere telling you what you can and can’t do. This really appealed to the girls, who were desperate to climb on the walls – to be the queens of the castle of course!
From there, you head across the bridge, where the drawbridge would have been. Libby had previously visited on a school trip and took great delight in telling us where the gates would have been and how they would have come down to keep unwanted guests out.
From there, you are free to explore the castle in whatever order you like. The girls enjoyed looking at the beautiful stained glass windows in the chapel. These are relatively recent additions to the castle and you can read about their meaning on nearby signs. There was also a lovely big book telling you about the characters that used to live in the castle and what their lives would have been like.
The girls were fascinated with ‘Roaring Meg’, the only remaining mortar from the Civil War. They also loved being able to go into different areas, both up and downstairs to see the murder holes, dungeons, great hall and the towers. Some of the stairs were a little treacherous, but they both managed it. I decided to stay downstairs rather than go up a windy staircase with Bubbles. You had to hold onto a rope to go up and I was a bit worried about her pulling too hard on the lead on the way back down.
Getting children interested in history
Libby is currently learning about castles at school. She has always been quite interested in history, particularly after visiting Warwick Castle several times. But Goodrich Castle is very different, with much more emphasis on exploring it yourself. Thankfully, they both got really into exploring it and learning about what happened in different areas.
The stables were a real favourite for Lia, who delighted in pretending to be a horse and trotting around. It’s easy to feel like Lia’s not really taking it in as we explore places, because she’s very much still into play rather than obviously learning. But at her age, play is the best way to learn.
Explaining to the girls what happened in different parts of the castle was really easy because of the helpful signs dotted around. Libby asked lots of quite informed questions. She found the latrine tower fascinating and loved finding out how toilets worked when people lived in the castle.
The views from Goodrich Castle are absolutely spectacular. I loved looking out at the surrounding countryside. It’s also a great location for a day out, being so close to Hereford. The girls can’t concentrate on something like this for too long. So, we spent a few hours there and then headed into Hereford to see the Weeping Window poppies at Hereford Cathedral. They’re only there until 29th April and are well worth a visit.
We also had dinner in a pub just outside Hereford. There were more spectacular views to enjoy, and a particularly delightful sunset over the river. I can highly recommend Goodrich castle for a day out. In fact, it’s one of the nicest days out we’ve had in a long time. We’ll definitely be heading back again soon.