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On our short break to South Wales we could have gone mad visiting castles but we felt that you could quickly become over castled so we chose a few we liked the sound of to visit and stuck with those.
We chose Chepstow as it was close to Tintern Abbey for our first day of sightseeing. The cliff top setting also appealed to us and we thought we could also have a bit of a look at the town of Chepstow as well.
Chepstow castle is pretty much a ruin now but it is nearly 1000 years old and sits on its cliff top on the banks of the river overlooking England across the river and the town of Chepstow lies below it on the land side.
OPENING TIMES AND PRICES The prices are £4.50 for adults £13.50 for a family ticket which admits two adults and all children under 16 Seniors, students and under 16s are £3.40 Under fives are FREE Disabled visitors and their companion – FREE The castle is open The Abbey is open 29 March – 30 June - 9.30 – 5pm 1 July - 31 August - 9.30 - 6pm 1 Sept – 31 Oct - 9.30 – 5.pm 1 November – 28 Feb- Mon – Sat 10 am – 4 pm Sun 11 am – 4 pm Closed 24,25, 26 Dec and Jan 1
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION The car park is pay and display but FREE on Sunday when we visited. There are nice clean toilets in the car park area near the Pay & Display ticket machine but no toilets in the castle itself so go before you visit if you might need them.
Your castle ticket lasts for the day, so you can go in and then out to the toilet or have lunch and return to the castle if you would like to.
Parts of the castle that involved climbing uneven spiral steps are obviously limited to those able or wanting to climb them. They do have mobility scooters but not sure if they are free and access is obviously only on the ground level areas.
You can take your dogs in on leads and people were sitting on the grassy areas with picnics and reading books so you can just sit and take in the scenery or walk around like we did.
OUR VISIT WE walked and climbed every nook and cranny so we inspected every lat stone in the place. It is really quite large and spread along the river bank for some distance. The views over the river were quite splendid and as we visited on a lovely bright sunny day the castle ruins looked very attractive against the blue skies.
This castle is one of the oldest Norman buildings in Britain dating back to 1067 – they didn’t waste much time after winning the battle in 1066! The castle was not actually completed until 1690 o some few hundred years of building and extensions took place here.
Within this castle you can walk along the medieval ramparts and see the slit designed to shoot arrows through and the later the battlements had the slits of spaces designed for muskets instead.
One of the most famous parts of Chepstow castle are its doors which are 800 years old and these were still hanging and being used up till 1962 when they were taken down and placed inside to be preserved.
You can see the more modern and recently restored earl’s chamber which is sharp contrast to the rest of the ruins of the castle. It has been restored to how historians believe the Earl Roger Bigod who was lord of the castle in the last part of the 13th century might have lived.
The castle is used for a number of outdoor productions, choir, plays and performances in the open air or under a sail- like marquee with open sides.
The spiral stair case will allow you access to the top of one of the towers for fine views over the town and the river. They are steep, uneven and quite dark at time so anyone with a fear of heights may chose not to avail themselves of this activity. If you are fit and able to climb then you are rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction and views over the insides of the castle, the river and the town so it is worth the effort.
The castle ha a lot of uneven cobbled area and some of the steps are shiny so if the weather is wet or icy then be very careful. There are slippery signs on all the steps and I can imagine they could be a major hazard. I was wearing flip flops so was very careful. I would suggest more sensible shoes than I chose as I did feel a little concerned as I made my way down the spiral stairs of shiny uneven stone especially when it was dark as my glasses changed with the sun and became dark thus making going down quite hazardous.
After we came out of the castle we drove over the bridge nearby into England in order to take a photo of the castle from the other side but unfortunately the sun was behind the castle and all I got was a silhouette.
This is an interesting castle with lovely picturesque areas and great setting. It is well worth the entry fee in my view and an hour or two will give you plenty of time to see it all and explore all the various areas. If you want you can take a picnic to enjoy Iin the grounds. If you don’t want to pay to go in it is possible to see quite a lot from outside and across the river so well worth a drive to Chepstow just to see this castle in its quite spectacular setting even if you don’t want to go inside.