On Saturday it was Ben’s Dad’s 70th birthday. We didn’t actually know it was his 70th, but we did know it was his birthday! I did ask Ben how old his Dad was and he had no idea, so we had to ask. For a treat, we picked up his Dad and wife and took them to explore 13th century Skenfrith Castle with us.
Skenfrith Castle ruins are located in a little village called Skenfrith, near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK. I always seem to forget that we are so close to Wales. Ben’s Dad lives in the Forest of Dean which takes us one hour to drive to his house, then it was only 30 minutes to drive to the castle.
We have an eight seater so picked them up so they didn’t have to drive. Plus Ben hadn’t told them where we were taking them, so it was a surprise. I thought as it was so close to their house and they are also National Trust members that they may have visited before, so perhaps Ben should have said where, but luckily they hadn’t been. Imagine if they’d said ‘oh, we were here last week!’
Skenfrith Castle is owned, preserved and maintained by National Trust. This is how we discovered it. We joined the National Trust a couple of weeks ago when we visited Stonehenge. We’ve thought of becoming members for a while and I don’t know why we took so long! It’s only £10.50 per month for all of us and we get free entry and parking at hundreds of beautiful locations throughout the UK. It should save money on family travel for the coming year and give us lots of inspiration of places to visit.
Skenfrith Castle is actually free to visit to everyone. There is free parking and the ruins are free to explore. It’s a proper castle ruins so there are no castle towers to climb, but the keep is still standing and can be entered. Inside the castle are lovely grassy spots which are perfect for picnics and sunbathing in a beautiful setting.
The location is stunning and we chose a glorious heat wave day with clear blue skies which definitely made the castle look more glorious! It also meant we were quite happy spending a day outside, taking our time to explore the ruins and the surrounding area.
We were able to park right outside the castle and we certainly picked a busy day! There was a wedding going on in the church and three red London buses of guests arrived as we were sat eating our picnic. There were also lots of people picnicking like us and even some families swimming in the river behind the castle.
If you are not too far away then it’s a great spot for a picnic and for the kids to let their imaginations run wild. Bella and Reuben, ages seven and four, loved running around the castle and pretending what the different rooms could be. Down the steps they decided was a prison and a rectangle area with shallow walls was a swimming pool!
It doesn’t take too long to explore, so it’s worth a stop if you don’t live too far or if you are hiking by. There is a walk called The Three Castles Walk and this castle is a part of the 18.6 mile walk.
Nearby is a beautiful pub called The Bell at Skenfrith which we popped into twice to use the toilet. We’d taken a picnic with us, but if we ever return then I’d definitely try the food here which comes highly recommended. The pub, river, castle and village houses make a very picturesque spot.
We love to explore castles and I always think it’s incredible they have lasted so long as this one was built in the 1200s. Though, when you see the thickness of the walls it’s probably not that surprising!
We were hoping to go for a walk after exploring the ruins and having a picnic, but this little lamb felt a bit poorly and even had a sleep after our picnic! So we headed off after only a short stay. Luckily lots of sips of water made her feel much better on the way back home so perhaps it was just the heat.
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