As we drove along clear straight roads through the Dorset countryside Corfe Castle suddenly reared up at us. In my car there was a collective intake of breath. My eight year old is already discovering detached irony so it was great to hear her exclaim with genuine passion at the extraordinary sight
It’s a true sky-scraper of a castle, perched high on a hill with a tall keep which, despite being a ruin, is still mightily impressive. The car park was full on our first attempt so we re-juggled our day and went for a pub lunch first. This turned out to be a great idea because when we returned in the afternoon the castle was lovely and quiet. It was really atmospheric to walk round the castle ruin without the crowds. The walk from the car park to the castle includes a small detour called a ‘Play Trail.’ My children loved this small detour which included balancing on logs and jumping on stepping stones across a small stream. Both my three year old and I accidentally slipped a foot into the freezing water at one point but neither of us really minded.
After the small detour we were soon crossing the drawbridge to the fabulous castle. A small group of medieval re-enactors were offering archery lessons on the front lawn for a small charge. They seemed really authentic and really added to the great atmosphere. One child took advantage of the lessons and was given great tuition, while my three year old boy held a large sword which made his day. My girls did a trail around the castle and were rewarded in the end with an attractive medal. Me and my three year old enjoyed poking about in secret passages and looking through arrow slits. We really began to imagine ourselves back to medieval times as we fought with stick swords.
As we climbed higher and higher into the castle itself, my fear of heights made me incredibly nervous. I’m sure the castle is completely safe but watching my three year old peering through railings at a huge drop below made me shiver with fear. I was careful not to look down and resolutely stared straight ahead at the incredible Dorset countryside. Corfe Castle was apparently the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Kirrin Castle in her Famous Five books so we were keen to visit the Ginger Pop Shop in the village and my girls sat on the Wishing Chair. It is well worth a good rummage in the bargain bins outside; most titles in the boxes are amazingly priced at less than 50p. Just one more reason to make us feel that we’d somehow slipped back in time.