Given Castell Coch is known as Wales’s fairytale castle, it’s the perfect place to hunt for fairies.
This half term sees a fairy-themed trail running through the grounds of the red-roofed castle, with rhyming clues to solve, and fairies, gnomes and fairy doors to find.
We were invited to visit yesterday afternoon and, despite the cold and the rain, the castle was still nicely busy.
The friendly staff on the admission desk handed us our sheet of clues, a castle map and asked my children if they wanted to wear fairy wings or wizard hats along the trail – which, much to my disappointment, they didn’t – and pointed us in the direction of the first clue.
I must admit that I found some of the clues quite tricky, despite having visited the castle many times (read about the castle in more detail in this post about our previous visit) and knowing it fairly well. We had to ask the staff for help a couple of times, but once we worked out where we were going, my children loved looking out for the winged creatures and wooden doorways.
It was great to see the fairy doors were created with help from trainees from Cardiff-based workshop Bespoke Woodwork and Vision 21, a local charity which provides practical work opportunities for people with learning needs across south east Wales.
The hunt of 14 clues took us over an hour to complete at a leisurely pace, and it’s a fun way for families with young children to explore the castle. Most of the non-family visitors were listening to audio guides on their headsets, which I think my children are a little young for, but this gave us a lovely focus, rather than just wandering around.
We also attended one of the fairy-themed traditional storytelling sessions, which take place daily at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm in the beautiful drawing room with its ornately decorated ceilings. Our storyteller was a dainty and petite woman wearing wings and a fairy crown. She looked every bit the fairy and the audience were captivated by her story of a fairy who married a human.
The rain didn’t affect our visit too much – we got a bit wet walking across the stone courtyard and it meant some of the stone staircases were a bit slippery, but all the rooms are thankfully undercover. It’s worth noting that although the castle courtyard is accessible for buggies, the staircases mean the rest of the castle isn’t, so a sling or baby carrier is advisable for babies.
The trail took us into the kitchen, the dining room, Lord Bute and Lady Bute’s bedrooms, the winch room (used to hoist up the castle portcullis) among other rooms. The castle’s décor is truly beautiful. Designed by the acclaimed architect William Burges for Lord Bute, it shares much in common with Bute’s other former residence, Cardiff Castle, in terms of the intricate wall and ceiling murals, and carvings.
If the weather had been better, we would have combined our trip to Castell Coch with a visit to Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail, just a short drive away. It’s a brilliant local wood with buggy-friendly paths and fun wooden sculptures to spot. Read our review here.
Fairy Week runs at Castell Coch until Sunday 30th October. Usual admission prices apply.
Check out #cochfairies on social media.