micbinks - UK holiday, leisure & tourist attraction images

Wye Valley Castles & Caves

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Wye Valley, Forest of Dean Holiday July 2015 - page 2

Located near Ross on Wye in Herefordshire, Goodrich Castle is a well-preserved English medieval castle built high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Wye.  And while still in 'castle mode' on our endearing Wye Valley cottage holiday in Penallt we next headed to Monmouth Castle and Military Museum.  Then venturing into the Forest of Dean another day we went underground at the enchanting Clearwell Caves, a former iron ore mine south of Coleford in Gloucestershire.
This is page two of three.
Wye Valley Forest of Dean 1 | Wye Valley Forest of Dean 2 | Wye Valley Forest of Dean 3

Goodrich Castle near Ross on Wye
Goodrich Castle has been been in existence since 1101 and, like many castles in the Welsh Marches, the circular towers encompass square-based pyramids rising up against the walls.  Inside, the...

Goodrich Castle inner view from the battlements
...castle features an early Norman square keep; look carefully at our pic here and you should spot the famous 'Roaring Meg' mortar cannon down there in the courtyard, a powerful weapon that...

Roaring Meg cannon at Goodrich Castle
...destroyed Goodrich Castle in 1646.  This 'Roaring Meg' is the only surviving Civil War mortar now in existence.  Behind the courtyard...

Goodrich Castle solarium
...is the solarium, one of a number of domestic buildings within Goodrich Castle's bailey, others were the great hall, kitchen, buttery and...

13th century chapel at Goodrich Castle
...the 13th century chapel, sporting a splendid stained glass window... well, it would look splendid if we (erm, Mike) hadn't grossly over-exposed it!

Goodrich Castle's semi-circular barbican
Goodrich Castle's semi-circular barbican was built at right angles to invading forces; this helped protect the causeway leading to the gatehouse.

Portcullises well at Goodrich Castle
Above the castle's gatehouse is the portcullises well and its interesting operation described on the board.


We spent an absorbing morning exploring Goodrich Castle which is classed as a Scheduled Monument and is a Grade I listed building.  Run by English Heritage, the £6.60 adult entrance cost (at the time of our visit) included an audio guided tour and castle exhibition.  However, it doesn't include parking which cheekily costs another £1!  Overall though we found Goodrich Castle to be a worthy visit, even for non-castle buffs like us.

Other facilities at the castle include a café, picnic area, and, of course, a gift shop selling all kinds of castle related stuff.

For more on Goodrich and Monmouth castles (coming up next) and other Wye Valley and Forest of Dean tourist attractions please see our large collection of UK tourism resources.


Monmouth Castle remains
We moved on to Monmouth Castle but there wasn't much to see, about all that's left of it is the ruins of the Great Tower and Hall.  Just as well entry was free!

Monmouth Military Museum
Adjacent to Monmouth Castle is the Military Museum which relates the story of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers regiment and their involvement in...

Exhibits at Monmouth Military Museum
...the Militia and various conflicts.  Run by volunteers, it contained some fascinating exhibits, allow an hour or so.  Entry to the Military Museum was by donation.

Penallt holiday cottage, Monmouthshire in the Wye Valley
Do you guys out there want a peek at our holiday cottage?  Well, here it is!  Located near Monmouth in the small village of Penallt just inside Wales...

Cooking a meal in the Penallt holiday cottage
...the self-catering cottage was equipped with a lovely spacious kitchen.  Belinda's knocking up the full works here - a full English breakfast ahead of venturing into the Forest of Dean.  Yum!

The outside of Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean
For our first foray into the Forest of Dean we made for a historic iron ore mine within the natural cave system at Clearwell Caves, located just south of Coleford in Gloucestershire.  Once inside...

Display boards at Clearwell Caves
...we passed by these informative displays highlighting Clearwell's mining heritage and learnt about the Freeminers right to dig for minerals and the geology of the Forest of Dean.  Visitors follow the...

Entering Clearwell Caves underground passageways
...self-paced path underground through the nine huge caverns (called Churns) with plenty more displays along the way.  The Forest of Dean was once a major mining area, with coal mined as well as iron.

Rail tracks in Clearwell Caves
The mined iron ore was transported to the surface along these railway tracks.  Clearwell Caves cover some 600 acres including some deeper level caves but the significant extra cost (£15/£26 semi-deep/deep) plus the teeming school trip kids...

Clearwell Caves underground cavern
...populating them meant we gave them a miss.  Apart from iron ore, ochre pigment was also mined at Clearwell Caves and still is today for artists.  Well it sure was fascinating wandering along the winding underground passageways and...

Clearwell Caves: large atmospherically lit cavern
...the clever lighting effects in the caverns (or Churns) made for a very atmospheric underground experience.  Can you spot Belinda in the huge cavern above?  One interesting fact is that the temperature in the caves never varies from 10°C.. ..brrrr!

Clearwell Caves: Pillar Churn Lake
Now no cave attraction would be complete without an attractively lit underground lake and Clearwell didn't disappoint!  Adult entry to the main caves cost £6.50 and there's also a café and gift shop, both of which were plagued by school party kids on our visit.

Food on the way in the holiday cottage kitchen
Perhaps a downside of self-catering is arriving back at the holiday cottage and having to prepare a meal after a hard day's touring, but sharing the task means it's no great sweat.  Overall we like the complete freedom cottage holidays give - we're free to do as we wish with...

Enjoying an evening meal in the Wye Valley holiday cottage
...no set meal times to return for.  And some evenings we ate out, supporting the local economy.

On our next page: more Forest of Dean attractions: Dean Heritage Centre and the preserved Dean Forest Railway >>>

We've also toured some of Snowdonia's mines, Carew Castle and Warwick Castle.  Oh, another mine tour was Geevor Tin Mine.