Castles of Wales – Dolforwyn Castle, Powys:

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If you travel on the main road between Welshpool and Newtown, you will come across the signs to Dolforwyn Castle, and what a gem it is. Dolforwyn Castle can be found on a wooded ridge with commanding views across the Severn Valley and is a fine example of medieval Welsh castle design. 
Llewelyn ap Gruffudd was recognised as the Prince of Wales in 1267, and to maintain his control he ordered the construction of Dolforwyn Castle between 1273 and 1277. The castle does not appear to have been occupied for very long because by 1381 it was already described as being in poor repair. By 1398 the castle was described as “ruinous and worth nothing”. 

It seems that after this date the castle attracted little interest and was almost lost from history. The Castle was given to the Cadw (the Welsh Government historic environmental service) in 1955. Following a long period of excavation, the castle was finally opened to the public. 

Overall it was a great little find. It’s a small castle compared to others, but a beautiful location with fantastic views. It’s worth noting that once off the main road, it’s single track road (with passing places) that takes you to a very small car park (space for about 4 or 5 cars). From the car park there is a steep track up to the castle, it it’s certainly worth making the effort to see this gem of Mid Wales. 

Castles of Wales – Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Powys:

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I stumbled across this castle almost by accident whilst seeing it from the road on the way to Welshpool. The castle is set on top of the hill overlooking the town of Montgomery and surrounding countryside and is well worth a visit. 
Unlike Powys Castle, Montgomery Castle is a ruin, but what a castle it must have been in its time. When you walk through from the car park, you see the outer walls, two new bridges linking the outer, middle and inner parts of the castle, the remains of a tower and what would have been a kitchen. It’s an ideal place for a short visit or a picnic so if your in the area, go visit, you won’t be disappointed. 

The castle is one of many Norman castle on the Welsh borders and stems from around 1071-1074, however the stone remnants as we see them today stem from 1223 when the castle was rebuilt. In 1267 the castle was the site of treaty negotiations with King Henry III and the future Prince of Wales Llwelyn ap Gruffudd. Following the final Welsh war, it appears Montgomery Castle became a prison and fortress rather than a front line Castle as it had been.

There is no visitor centre, shop cafe etc, but that’s what makes it so nice. The castle is free to visit and the car park (again free) is at the top of castle hill so you can avoid the climb up to the castle. For those that want the exercise, there is a footpath from the town up to the castle and plenty of places to have a drink on your return. 

Castle’s of Wales – Powys Castle

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So many people (me included) love castles, be they ruins where you can imagine what they once were or where they are magnificent family homes. Powys Castle is the latter and one of the finest places to visit if you are in Mid Wales. At number of castles in Wales were built by the English to keep the Welsh at bay, however Powys Castle was built by a Welsh Prince in the 13th Century. Finally in the 18th century the castle passed into the Clive family and is now managed by the National Trust. 
The first impressions are amazing as you drive from Welshpool and see the fine castle on the hill. As you drive into the estate you get another fine view through an amazing gate (with of course the Welsh Dragons) of the gardens and castle. As with the majority of National Trust properties, there was plenty of parking (including spaces to charge electricity cars) and a free mini bus shuttle to the main entrance for those that couldn’t walk from the car park. You can choose to visit the gardens and/or the castle itself with the fine artifacts in the Clive Museum.

If your lucky, the beautiful peacocks will welcome you into their domain.

 Through the main gateway is the external courtyard with the far reaching views across Powys. Personally I would visit the castle first as this doesn’t take long, giving you more time to enjoy the world famous gardens. You can wonder around the castle at your own pace or take a guided tour with very knowledgable guides. Not all of the rooms are open to the public, but those that are, are well worth a visit. 

The main feature however, is the famous terraced gardens. With its colourful borders, yew trees and topiary and lawned areas, the pictures just don’t do it justice and is a garden you have to see for yourself. 

Overall, it is an amazing place to visit for all ages. The is a National Trust shop and cafe available should you feel the need to shop and relax with a coffee etc. For more information on opening times and prices, please visit the National Trust Website.