As I peered up, from the ground, looking towards the top of Guy’s Tower, it transported me back to those halcyon days of school trips – and memories of my favourite, a visit to Warwick Castle.
I’m not sure Guy’s Tower was the best part of that visit as a pupil at Sundridge Primary School as I wasn’t, and still aren’t, a fan of heights.
Indeed, I well remember climbing the many steps of the 14th century tower, reaching the top and feeling nervous as I looked out on the rest of the castle.
But, on this visit, Guy’s Tower brought some familiarity, as did other parts of the castle and the sight of several peacocks, brimming with beautiful colours, proudly going about their business in the gardens.
However, what struck me on this return, the first in many years, is that, although there’s so much fascinating history surrounding you at wonderful Warwick Castle – in terms of its draw for families – it has seen such great change and progress over the years too.
The present and past are fantastically interwined to provide visitors with the perfect experience.
You can enjoy a whole manner of entertainment and, while it’s exciting, it also enhances your knowledge of history. You’re giving your child additional education while they have fun.
Younger visitors will naturally be drawn to the Zog Playland as soon as you enter the grounds.
Zog is, as parents of young children will know, another hugely successful creation of author Julia Donaldson.
The play area, in his name, is full of colour and a real treat for children. Adults can sit and enjoy a tea or coffee while watching their children burn off energy on all manner of playground equipment, including slides, a zip wire and swings.
A Horrible Histories® Maze and Zog and the Quest for the Golden Star interactive trail also prove extremely popular while The Zog Live Show features special content developed by Donaldson to bring the loveable dragon to life complete with a set created using Axel Scheffler’s original and unmistakeable artwork.
The beauty of Warwick Castle though is that it really does cater for all ages.
Leaflets and information talk of ‘unleashing history’ and transporting you back in time and nothing does so more that the return of the Wars of the Roses LIVE! This was the highlight of our trip.
The spectacular and much-loved show really does immerse the whole family into the world of medieval knights, battles, and intrigue during a thrilling live performance.
Choosing team York or Lancaster – my daughter Eleanor plumped for the White Rose – you are then entertained by fantastic actors, telling the story of the War of the Roses and how Henry VII and the Tudor dynasty began.
The talented actors help create a brilliant atmosphere among the spectators – chants of White Rose and Red Rose overlap each other –as you witness thrilling battles, daring stunts, and incredible jousting performed by awe-inspiring knights.
It’s not the only live show either. The Legend of the Trebuchet is a spectacular show and brings a ‘wow’ moment as Britain’s biggest siege machine launches an 18kg projectile hundreds of metres through the air.
And The Falconer’s Quest, the UK’s largest birds of prey show, sees no fewer than 60 epic birds swooping, looping and gliding past your very eyes. providing more education.
These shows are all well spaced out, time wise, meaning that, throughout the day, you get to experience them all and, on good weather days, can sit, relaxed with a picnic.
And there’s so much more, including a look inside many parts of the castle, seeing some of the incredible art and armour on display.
You can enjoy a trip to The Princess Tower, which has a brand-new interactive story and riddle for guests to enjoy with a timely Coronation theme and a Bowman Show, which showcases the castle’s resident archer who wows visitors with his skill in the historic sport.
The Kingmaker exhibition takes you back to 1471 and the life of Richard Neville, commonly known as “Warwick the Kingmaker” as he prepares his army for battle.
Qwe alos really enjoyed the Time Tower, which takes you on a quest through time, encountering some of the key figures that formed the castle into what it is today.
Visitors can also try archery for themselves, for an additional charge, as well as visiting the castle dungeons. the list, quite frankly, is endless.
We arrived at 10am on the morning of our visit and stayed for the entire day and never felt at a loose end.
It had been a long time since that school visit but I won’t leave it that long again!