You'd be forgiven for thinking that Caerphilly is all
about the castle.
To be fair, covering 120,000 m2 Caerphilly Castle does tend to
dominate the town. It was built by Norman invaders but it was
an attack during the 17th century that left the castle
with its most striking feature - a leaning tower, which at 10
degrees has more of a tilt than its more famous counterpart in
When you've finished exploring it there is a lot more to do in
this corner of Southern Wales. A journey of 8 miles and
almost 400 years brings you to Llancaiach Fawr Manor and the
year 1645. You'll meet the servants of the manor who are busy
looking after the house for the master, Colonel Pritchard.
They'll regale you with tales of what life is like for them
amidst the turmoil of the civil war which rages around them.
What you need with so much history in an area is a museum to bring
it all together. Well, luckily for Caerphilly there's the Winding House. As the
name suggests, the building housed the winding mechanism for the
local colliery (in fact you can still see the engine in action on
special days throughout the year). Today the museum is home
exhibitions and artefacts charting the area's past.
Back in the 21st century and over in the next
valley is Cwmcarn Forest's
Mynydd, quite possibly the biggest, hardest, most
technical downhill mountain biking track in the country. It
also has terrific views over South Wales, not that you'll be able
to take them in as you hurtle down the side of the mountain.
There are also a number of other tracks at the centre if you're not
quite up to the big one or if you're after something a little more
sedate you can enjoy the beautiful 7 mile long forest drive.
To find our more about Caerphilly, please visit the website
You may have heard a
whisper that Wales has a castle or two. Indeed there are 641 at the
last count, meaning that we have more castles per square mile than
any other country in Europe. In fact almost every town or village
has some form of castle or fort.
And now thanks to a deal between Cadw and The
Friends of Manx National Heritage (FMNH) the historic
sites of Wales have now become free to visit to FMNH members from
the Isle of Man.
Good news that our heritage will be more open to visitors, but it
got me thinking - Which of our 641 castles is our best?
How about the imposing splendour of Caerphilly Castle. Very few
castles in Europe are as big as Caerphilly Castle. It dominates the
otherwise quiet market town in which it stands. It was built in the
13th Century and must have been a quite a fearsome site to
attacking enemies with its imposing walls and huge moat. Thankfully
they're a bit more welcoming to visitors today and have opened the
portcullis and put a bridge across the moat so you don't get your
feet wet on the way in.
Caerphilly Castle is a mere youngster compared to Chepstow Castle
as it dates from the 11th Century. As well as being the oldest it
was probably the most strategically important as it stands guard on
a hillside overlooking the River Wye which marks the border between
Wales and England.
It may not be as grand as Caerphilly or as important as Chepstow
but Ogmore Castle near Bridgend certainly makes up for this as
being one of the most picturesque. Sitting quietly on the banks of
the River Ewenny, access to the castle is via a set of stepping
stones which leads from the tiny hamlet of Merthyr Mawr and its
If it's grand castles that you want then there is none more
opulent than Cardiff Castle. Don't believe me? Then take a tour of
the apartments dating from the 1860s. You'll be amazed by the
lavishness and luxury in which the Marquess of Bute, at the time
the richest man in the world, once lived. As well as the
extravagant apartments the castle also has a Norman keep and Roman
walls. It's like all the castles of Wales rolled into one.
There's also the World Heritage Site castles of North Wales at
Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech or the romantic ruins of
Carreg Cenen sitting on a hilltop amongst the rolling hills of the
So many to choose from. So it's over to you, which one is your