Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 19, 2015

Northumberland Castle Hunting – cuid a haon

There’s nearly a castle around every corner in this area of Northumberland. There were two on our list to visit over my weekend say, the first being Alnwick Castle (unless you want to sound like a tourist, the ‘w’ is silent when pronouncing the name of this and many other ‘wick’ castles in Britain.)

You may never have heard of Alnwick Castle, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen parts of it. The castle complex served as Hogwarts School of Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter Films and also as Brancaster Castle in the Christmas episodes of Downtown Abbey.

Main entry

Main entry

Main entry and right outer wall

Main entry and right outer wall

It’s a massive complex in the possession of the Percy family for the last 700 years. The family still lives on site from November through March and for the odd week or weekend during the rest of the year. While touring the state rooms you can see that they have left many personal photographs scattered about the library/family room. No photographs were allowed inside, so you’ll just have to visit yourself.

Entrance to main castle and state rooms

Entrance to main castle and state rooms

Alnwick castle left side

Alnwick castle left side

Sir Henry Percy, aka Hotspur

Sir Henry Percy, aka Hotspur

Besides the state rooms, there’s plenty to see with assorted museums and attractions spread out throughout the outer walls and towers. The Harry Potter theme is used to its full extent with broomstick training, Potter inspired character days, and gifts galore. If that’s not enough to entertain the young folk, a medieval fair area called the Knight’s Quest provides costumes to wear, games to play, arts and crafts including making your own magic wand and a Dragon Quest adventure.

Knight's Quest Crafts - wand building

Knight’s Quest Crafts – wand building

Knight's Quest Dragon

Knight’s Quest Dragon

Adults aren’t left out either as there’s a place to try your hand at archery. This activity seemed to be calling my name so my friend and I had a go. Expecting to be out shot by some 12 year old, I rose to the challenge, anyway. To my shock and surprise, I actually hit the target with all 8 arrows – even one in the centre circle. Not bad for a nearly half blind girl. I would definitely do that again.

My first archery shoot

My first archery shoot

Like Windsor castle, the tickets can be re-used for up to a year, but here they don’t just have you sign the ticket, you have to be photographed as well. At least the locals can save money when distant friends and relatives come to visit. There are different special events throughout the open season, so it can be worthwhile to re-visit.

There’s also a separate adjacent attraction of the Alnwick Gardens. Governed by a charitable trust, it requires separate admission which is nearly as much as the castle. There is a discount if you purchase both, but it was a little too dear for my wallet. You can save a few quid by booking online before you arrive, which I didn’t think of until later.

Glimpse of Alnwick Gardens

Glimpse of Alnwick Gardens

It is a massive estate that must cost a pretty penny to run, so it’s hard to begrudge the family a living, but considering they have other houses elsewhere in the country, they don’t appear to be doing too badly.

Alnwick Castle complex map

Alnwick Castle complex map

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