It’s true Pembrokeshire has it’s fair share of castles, whether you like something completely run down, a restored monument or something in between, there’s plenty on offer.
The original plan was go to Ramsey Island but, after checking the sea conditions, it was reported that there would be no sailing today, due to a very large swell. Apparently, the winds will have dropped substantially by Thursday and there are rumours of no rain. Now that would be a blessing. It’s pretty cold today, well below the average for May.
So, what better than a tour of some castles.
First stop Pembroke Castle, with it’s roots set in the 11th Century, it was originally built as a eath and wood fort and turned into a stone castle in the 12th Century. The Great Keep is one of it’s most notable features,a round keep with a domed roof, the only one in existence in the British Isles. The top supported a wooden, covered fighting platform. This would have been the last point of resistance. The castle was extended extensively in the 13th Century. The castle experienced a fairly peaceful period through the 15th & 16th Century and was also the birthplace of Henry Tudor in 1457, who would go on to become Henry VII. At the outbreak of the English Civil war, unlike the other castles of South Wales, Pembroke declared for the Parliament. After several wars and changes of allegiance, Oliver Cromwell arrived at Pembroke and after seven weeks of siege, took the castle. Cromwell ordered the castle destroyed and it remained abandoned and decaying for 250 years. In 1880 some restoration work was carried out over 3 years but, then left in disrepair until 1928 when an extensive programme of work was undertaken to the gatehouses, towers and walls.
Next stop Carew Castle, an altogether different place. A magnificent castle with a history spanning 2,000 years. Set in a stunning location, overlooking a 23-acre millpond, the castle displays the development from a Norman fortification to an Elizabethan country house. At first glance the castle doesn’t seem anything special but, for me this place feels more like a home due to it’s style and many intricate rooms. There have been many additions over time with many different styles. Carew Castle is also home to at least 50% of all the species of bats in the UK, including the Greater Horseshoe Bat. For this reason one section of the castle is out of bounds for the tourist, to protect the bats home.
A fairly quiet day overall, finished off with dinner at the lovely Griffin Inn in Dale village, overlooking the estuary. This place is worthy of a visit if you’re a fan of very fresh, locally caught fish, served in a very simple pub.
Once again, fingers crossed for Ramsey Island on Thursday.