Monday, 18 September 2017

Beautiful Britain - Chirk Castle NT, Wrexham

Hi there everyone

Once a year we tend to have a weekend away where we meet up with a group of old work friends. We've been doing it for a number of years now and have explored a number of different places including The Peak District, Bridgenorth and Harrogate.

This year we were off to the very lovely Betws-y-Coed in North Wales and we managed to pull in a stop off at Chirk Castle on our way.

Its a National Trust (NT) property, a castle and gardens, in the village of Chirk, not far from Wrexham. The Trust describe the property as ...
"A magnificent medieval fortress of the Welsh Marches"
Chirk is somewhere that we have passed through on a number of times on our way to North Wales, but we'd never had the time to stop before, so we were looking forward to being able to tick another NT property off our list of visits, as well as probably pulling in a nice lunch along the way.

Our approach took us through country lanes and past the very impressive Davies Gates, which were commissioned in 1712 and originally stood near the north face of the castle. They were moved to their current location in 1888, upon the arrival of the railway.

As the weather was a little gloomy and rain was promised, we decided that we would explore the grounds of the castle first and we started off in the kitchen garden.

We were really surprised to see how exposed this garden was, it was right on the side of a hill, with seemingly no real protection from the wind ...
In spite of this, everything seemed to be thriving well, and one of the gardeners confirmed that it didn't really cause any problems. He was picking peas and we couldn't resist a quick sample. Nothing tastes as good as a fresh pea straight from the pod, the raspberries were pretty good too ...
Whilst there was not much in the way of flowers in the kitchen garden there was a really good show of hollyhocks ...
... and the most beautiful amethyst coloured poppies ...
From the kitchen garden we stopped to visit a woodworking exhibition, where there were some amazing carvings on display ...

We then made our way up the path for our first real view of the castle ...
The castle itself is set right on the top of a hill and there is a large expanse of meadow in the front of it, so it was good to be able to stand right back and get the full view ...
The rain was still holding off so we decided to stick with our plan of exploring the gardens, which are to the side of the castle, before heading inside ...
We didn't really know what to expect from the gardens, as they didn't look that big, but we were pleasantly surprised. The planting alongside the castle really showed it off and was a real mixture of formal ...
... and very informal ...

There was a glorious herbaceous border, which was a real treat ...

And, whilst we were a little late for the best display in the rose garden, the views looking back at the castle were definitely worth a look ...
As you can see from the next picture the promised bad weather was drawing in ...
... so we didn't make it all the way down to Hawk House ...
But, as always, there was time for a quick selfie before we headed inside ...
We had a real cosy lunch in the tea room and braved the throngs of children to visit the inside of the castle. There was plenty to see, but I think we would prefer to come back on a bit of a quieter day to have chance to really explore.

So, that's another NT property off the list. As usual, the gardens were our favourite bit, but its definitely worth stopping off to call in if you get the chance 😀

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