When we’re out walking, we frequently find ourselves stopping to browse around the historic sites we pass: churches, graveyards, castles. In fact, it was our own interest in the built landscape that first gave us the idea for a series of hiking ebooks based on the castles in South Wales.
In his excellent book on the subject, Adrian Pettifer says of Welsh castles, ‘In terms of grandeur, they are second only to the dramatic landscape.’
We tend to agree with him. Here in South Wales, there are castles everywhere, the vast majority built in the thirteenth century by wealthy barons to protect the land they had seized from the Welsh princes.
Just six miles up the road from our home, stands one of the greatest castles in Europe. Caerphilly Castle is the UK’s second largest castle after Windsor and one which is associated with Edward II’s downfall.
Closer still is the beautiful but fire-ruined Ruperra Castle, one of the first mock castles; not built to defend the arm of the Morgan family of Tredegar House who lived there but as a display of their vast wealth.
In nearby Newport, the ruins of a fourteenth century castle still stand on the bank of the River Usk, the dominant water gate which received people and supplies arriving by boat still visible today.
There are impressive castles in nearby Cardiff, Caldicot, Chepstow (the first stone castle in Britain), Raglan, Abergavenny and Usk, with castle ruins to be found (almost) around every corner.
If you enjoy hiking and history, you’ll love our Castle Walks series.
- Castle Walks in Monmouthshire
- Castle Walks around Newport and Cardiff
- Castle Walks in the Welsh Marches (Herefordshire and Gloucestershire)
To get you started, here’s our suggested walk from Grosmont Castle.