In Warwickshire, on the banks of the River Avon, lies the finest medieval castle in England.
Castles fascinate me, the older and the grander the better. Our first stop, the 1100-year-old Warwick Castle, certainly fits the bill with its mighty stone walls and imposing towers, expansive grounds and regal state rooms. As soon as the castle came into view, it was quite a spectacular sight. It was every bit the majestic castle but it was also as touristy as they come. After a short orientation by our guide, we were given a map of the immense castle grounds and were told to start exploring.
|Map of the Grounds|
|A tower and some flowers.|
|At the top of the mound and the world's biggest trebuchet.|
|The surrounding countryside from the viewing deck.|
The castle had an atmosphere reminiscent of a Renaissance Fair complete with actors in period costumes heartily re-enacting a piece of history. Medieval tents were spread out over the grounds for various events and exhibitions such as falconry, archery and jousting. Other attractions include Merlin: The Dragon Tower, the Princess Tower, the Ghost Tower and the Castle Dungeon tour. I really wanted to go inside the Princess Tower but the princesses kindly informed me that it was only for children so I had to settle for a photo.
|The Princess Tower|
It was such a beautiful summer day that we didn't want to spend what little time we had indoors. Still, we took a quick peek inside the elegantly furnished state rooms and found displays of wax figures courtesy of Madame Tussauds.
|The State Rooms|
|Henry VIII and his six wives: Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.|
As we were wandering around the pathways behind the castle walls, we came across the River Avon flowing gently along the east side of the castle. From that point, we had a glimpse of the Water Mill Garden which had overlooking views of the river. The Water Mill Garden is privately owned but open to the public.
|The Water Mill Garden|
|The River Avon passing through what's left of the old bridge.|
There was also a Victorian rose garden tucked away in a secluded area. It was one of the few areas of the castle grounds that was not swarming with tourists - probably because it was easy to miss. Though the roses were not in full bloom, it was still very lovely and serene.
The Victorian Rose Garden
Just a few minutes before we were due back on the coach, we stumbled upon the Conservatory and the formal garden, aptly named Peacock Garden. Peacocks were milling around the garden which had giant peacock topiaries. It was a shame that their tails were closed and we didn't have the time to wait for them to strut their brilliant plumage. As it was, we had to sprint back to the coach to make it on time.
|The Conservatory and Peacock Garden|
Next stop - Stratford-Upon-Avon!