A couple of weeks ago we decided to visit Beeston Castle which is near Tarporley in Cheshire. We had visited before but quite long time ago and passing the signs to the castle on our way up to Chester recently made us want to to visit again.
First things first we sat in the car and drank warm coffee from flasks we'd brought with us, watching others arrive, park and wander into the property via the Victorian Gatehouse. It was quite windy so hats, scarves and gloves were required before venturing up to the ruins.
Where to go first, Castle, Woodland Walk or Caves?
We decided to go to the top of the hill first. As we walked up the wind got more and more blustery. The first section of ruined walls you come to is the outer curtain wall and gatehouse.
We decided as it was windy to head on to the top of the hill just in case it got any worse, a couple of times I felt as if my feet may be lifted off the ground. I'm not a lover of wind and really dislike wearing hats, except perhaps a wide brimmed sun hat in summer, but I was so glad I'd pulled on a woolly hat before we left the car park.
Halfway there, it was quite a trek up to the top with no shelter from what now felt like gales.
We got as far as the modern bridge which takes you through the inner gatehouse and into the inner bailey.
The castle dates from c1220 and was built by Ranulf, Earl of Chester incorporating the banks and ditches of an Iron Age hill fort. The inner ward has a very rocky base and there is no evidence of any major buildings like a great hall or kitchens. There are remains of fireplace in what would have been the accommodation area for the constable who looked after the castle on behalf of the owner. The well, which was first recorded in 1230 , is said to be one of the deepest of any to be found in any castle in England. It is also said to be the hiding place of Richard II's treasure which legend has it was buried here in 1399.
The views from the top of the rocky crag are stunning. Apparently on clear days you can see upwards of thirty miles in all directions and across eight counties. The castle was seized by Henry III in 1237 and it remained the property of the crown until the 16th century. During the English Civil War the Royalists took the castle from the Parliamentarians in 1643 by 1644 it became imperative that the Parliamentarian forces regain the castle so in 1644 began the siege. The Royalists held out until November 1645 before finally surrendering to the Parliamentarian forces after the nearby Battle of Rowton Heath. There is a small exhibition in the gatehouse where relics of both the Bronze and Iron age can be seen as well as artifacts from the Civil War period of occupation.
Above, several of the features to be spotted in the inner ward of the castle where we had to hold on to each other at times as it felt we would blow over the walls.
We walked back down the hill to the start of the woodland walk. This takes you all around the outside of the castle.
It was a lovely walk, sheltered from the wind
The woodland is apparently a haven for birds and mammals. We did see a rabbit, I make a note of this as it is very rare to see a rabbit nowadays. Up until a few years ago we used to see fields full of bunnies on our walks.
There were many crows overhead but we didn't see the peregrine falcons mentioned on the website, buzzards were absent too.
At the end of the walk we came across the caves which are according to the leaflet a haven for bats and recently a rare species of bat, the Lesser Horseshoe bat has been found roosting in the caves by members of the Cheshire Bat Group.
The caves are fenced off but you can peer into the mossy, cobwebby sandstone entrances.
Apparently the caves were caused by the work of stone quarrying in the 18th century.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit especially the wonderful views - we spotted the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in the distance - and the woodland walk but it was good to get back to the shelter of the car and to wend our way home again.
A super and very interesting post Rosie. I have never been to that particular castle but it looks a good place to visit - fascinating to read about its history especially the thought of Richard II's treasure!! Glad you survived the wind and gales - high up on a hill not the best of places to be in such weather conditions! A great set of photos and I do like the owl carving in the tree.ReplyDelete
By sheer coincidence we visited some rock houses carved from caverns yesterday and they have Lesser Horseshoe bats there too!!
Thanks, RR. It is fascinating place and the woodland walk was really interesting, there are other walks around the area too. It wasn't blowing so much when we set out from home but by the time we got there the wind had picked up and it was so strong at the top of the hill. The rock houses sounds interesting:)Delete
Marvelous ruins! You've photographed the area beautifully.ReplyDelete
Thanks you William, glad you enjoyed the photos:)Delete