24 April 2009
I recently visited Kenilworth Castle, with my one year old baby boy and 3 year old daughter. This was more of an educational visit than some of our other days-out. The reason for visiting a castle was because they were covering castles at Nursery and actually seeing a real one would help to reinforce the learning.
I took the children on my own (my wife was working). I chose Kenilworth Castle as I've been before and knew I'd be able to take the pushchair into some of the castle. We visited the castle for just half a day as I thought it would be a long day trying to visit all day. We were able to have a reasonable visit in 2 to 3 hours, without the children getting bored.
If spending more than a few hours then there is also a good park near to the castle and a number of pub restaurants within short distance of the castle.
Kenilworth castle is a ruin, but there is sufficient of the castle remaining to be able to get a good idea of how the castle would have been. It also means that it costs much less to visit compared with a more furnished castle such as Warwick Castle (also in Warwickshire, England). It cost £7 for adults and under 5s are free (much better than many attractions that often start at 3, and some even start at age 2 or even 1). There is a £2 charge for car parking, but that is refunded when paying to visit the castle.
Access to the castle is via a wide path that is easily accessed with a pushchair. Once inside the castle there are some paths and the rest of the courtyard is grassed. As long as the grass is dry it's easy to get around with a pushchair. It is also easy to take a pushchair inside the great hall, and some of the other parts of the castle. As you would expect to properly explore the castle I had to leave the pushchair and carry our baby up the stairs. In some places there are large wooden steps that have been built for visitors, and in some areas then the spiral staircases had to be used. I didn't find anywhere that I physically couldn't access, but after entering one building and climbing 2 spiral staircases I decided that was enough, so missed a few areas out.
There is an indoor exhibit and cafe in the old stable building. The exhibit consisted of some models, some dressing up clothes and a few other items. There was two interactive computer displays, but only one was working when we visited. We had ice creams from the cafe which we ate outside as the weather was nice.
We asked where the toilets were and was told that there were some at the ticket office (just outside the castle), but recommended we went to the ones within the castle grounds. Unfortunately these toilets were not really suitable for use with children due to the small steps and that it is very cramped. There was no indication of any baby changing facility. I expect that the toilets at the ticket office included disabled toilets and baby changing, but I didn't actually visit them.
The visit met all the aims including a fun day out, but also educational. My daughter was full of questions and wanted to know more in particular she was interested in where Queen Elizabeth I slept, and in the reason that the castle had become a ruin (good job I bought the visitor guide when I bought my ticket).
Also look out for special events throughout the year. We won some mini cream eggs for spotting all the Easter egg signs, but they also having events with costumed characters.
My daughter certainly enjoyed herself and keeps asking when we are going back.