Family Day Out Review: Berkhamsted Castle, Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted Castle, Berkhamsted
Value For Money10.0/10
Variety Of Activities4.0/10
Things We Like
- Educational place of historic importance
- Versatile outdoor space
- Nice walk around the outside
Things We Dislike
- Parking can be tricky
- No facilities
- Lack of footpaths
What’s It All About?
One of the oldest Norman motte-and-bailey castles in the UK, Berkhamsted Castle provides a nice place to have a picnic, play with the kids or walk the dog against a backdrop of historical significance.
What Do We Think?
Berkhamsted Castle – run by English Heritage – provides a decent spot to pass away a few hours on a nice, chilled summer afternoon. There’s not much to do there, but an open space of grass, a few old castle walls, some information boards and a circuit to walk around the outside, provides somewhere to explore and play with the kids as an alternative to a park or common.
For history buffs, Berkhamsted Castle is a bit more interesting. Dating back to the 11th Century, the Norman motte-and-bailey castle controlled the northern approach to London and was built by William the Conqueror’s half-brother after the English submitted to him there. It became a residence for people such as Thomas Becket and the Black Prince, until the mid-16th Century when it fell into decline.
This grass area (bailey) is more than suitable for wholesome family activities like kicking a ball, throwing a Frisbee or having a picnic. There’s a couple of benches dotted around too if you’re lucky enough to nab one, but chances are you’ll be making use of the grass so aim for a nice day if you can. It’s also worth noting that there’s very limited facilities – no toilets, no cafe, no bins etc – so you’ll need to bring stuff with you. Not ideal for families with young kids.
If you’re feeling energetic enough, you can climb the 60 or so steps up to the top of the 45 foot hill (motte) which used to house a building (keep). This gives you a great view over the bailey below from the highest part of the site. Up here, there’s also a couple of information boards about the castle’s defences and the well which provided fresh water.
Once you’re done in the grassy, open-space that is the castle, you can make your way up onto the raised bank around the edge. This mound circles the entire site and can be accessed via steps on either side of the castle entrance. The walk takes about 15 minutes at a leisurely pace and allows you to get a 360 degree view of the old castle and the surrounding area.
It’s a very pleasant stroll, but as it’s not paved, it can get muddy and isn’t something you could tackle with a pushchair without difficulty. Also, there’s steep(ish) slopes down to the inner and outer ditches (moats) either side, so you need to take care if you’ve got young kids running around.
If you and the kids like history, then Berkhamsted Castle is well worth a visit to learn about one of the oldest motte-and-bailey castles in England. If not, then you can still take advantage of a nice open space to eat, play and hang out.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Address: White Hill, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LJ
Opening Times: 7 days per week, 10am-6pm (summer), 10am-4pm (winter).
Toilets: No. Nearest toilets at train station.
Cafe / Restaurant: No. Short walk to Berkhamsted town centre.
Parking: No. Limited free parking on nearby streets or paid parking at train station / town centre.
Public Transport: Berkhamsted Train Station 0.1 miles away.
Duration: 1 to 2 hours.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
Have you visited before? What do you and the kids think? Let us know in the comments!
Check out our interactive Days Out Map for other reviews of our family visits to UK attractions.