Castell Coch (The Red Castle), Cardiff
Castell Coch (which means Red Castle in Welsh), stands on a wooded hillside above the village of Tongwynlais, north of Cardiff, Wales.It was was probably founded in the early thirteenth century by a Welsh chieftain named Ifor Bach. The De Clare family claimed it because of its strategic importance, commanding both the plains area and the entrance to the Taff valley. The castle was rebuilt in stone and consisted of a keep, towers, an enclosed courtyard and a gatehouse.
By the mid-19th century little of the original Norman castle remained above ground , when the 3rd Marquess of Bute decided to rebuild it as a medieval-style dwelling for his family. Its interior is similar to his other castle in Cardiff.
The castle was a romantic folly and too small and too difficult to access for the family to live in.
Nowadays it is a popular tourist attraction, and has appeared in films and Tv..
We tried on more than one occasion to go to it, but could not find the way, in spite of following all the brown tourist signs and using a GPS.
In the end, VT-er pattypoo came to the rescue and took me there.
2011 I took the opportunity to go inside and see the banquetting hall, drawing room and kitchen; but the steep steps up to the sleeping rooms defeated me.
One of our favorite day trips from Cardiff was to the small village of Tongwynlais. Although there isn’t anything special at the village it houses a beautiful castle.
We took bus 26 (£3.2 return ticket, you can also take bus 132) and we were there in 30’. The bus dropped us at the village but then we had to walk for about 15’ to the castle.
Castell Coch (it means Red Castle) is really picturesque, it is surrounded by forests, and if you ask me I would say that it was much closer to the fairytale castles we have in our mind.
It was built at the end of 19th century on the ruins of a real medieval castle. William Burges designed the castle for the 3rd Marquess of Bute who was rich, very rich and could afford the renovation of Cardiff Castle anyway so it was easy for him to make another castle to have for some peaceful weekends away from the city :)
Actually he tried to make an authentic reconstruction of the original one although the interior was made to suit the needs of 19th century. On the top floor there is a small gallery with tons of information about the history of the castle, the architecture, the era the castle was built etc
We also checked several rooms decorated like they were 100 years before, we walked up the towers and loved the small chapel.
The castle overlook the Taff Valley, we took some pictures from the top windows but the fog didn’t allow us to see far in the distance.
There is a small gift shop and a little café but we didn’t go inside
The entrance fee is £3.7
it’s open daily 9.30-17.00 (july/august till 18.00, november-february 10.00-16.00)
I first saw this Cinderella-style castle from a distance and it struck me that it was unlike anything that I had ever seen before in the British Isles. With towers and turrets soaring above the forests that surround it, I was not surprised to discover that Castell Coch (the Red Castle) has been used as the setting for more than one Robin Hood movie.
I have yet to get closer to this beautiful building, and when I do I'll be back with more information.
"Money is only a secondary concern in the production of first rate works"
(William Burges, architect and designer)
Maybe if you are sharp-eyed and arrive to Cardiff by motorway, you will see a small castle on the hillside north of Cardiff. This is the fairytale Castell Coch (Red Castle). It was designed by architect William Burges, for the incredibly rich and eccentric Third Marquis of Bute.
The castle can be found above the small village of Tongwynlais, a mile north of the M4 motorway, on the very edge of Cardiff County.
This wonderful castle is built on the foundations of a real medieval fort which had been abandoned in the 1300's. Burges recreated it from his imagination and filled it with colourful wall paintings and furnishings.
In one of the towers is lots of information about Burges, the Marquis of Bute and the castle.
At the bottom of another tower is The Bakestone Welsh cafe, serving good value, wholesome, freshly cooked meals.
Open 7 days a week. Admission (2006) 3GBP adults, 2.50 GBP concessions, 8.50 GBP Family Ticket.
The Taff Trail, which begins in Cardiff and ends in Brecon, passes through the village of Tongwynglais a short distance out of Cardiff. Here the trail spilts, bikers and hikers can choose the low level route, or the more scenic high level route past Castell Coch - but for the best views, you need to wander off the path a little further.
After passing through Forest Fawr follow several smaller paths branch of the taff trail, and take you up through the bracken covered hill sides. Soon, however, they open out and join the Southern Ridgeway trail, climb this and you'll be rewarded with some fantastic views. Look south and you'll be able to see Cardiff city centre, the spires of the Millennium Stadium, and Cardiff Bay. On a clear day you'll be able to see out across the Bristol channel and see the English coastline.
Coch Castle Just outside Cardiff is a great castle to visit. Specially if you go and find there Santa Claus and his wife ;-) as it happened to us
If you visit in Christmas time, there is a nice market.