Monday, 26 August 2013

Fairytale adventure at Tutbury Castle (Stafford)

Encouraged by a sunny bank holiday Monday and a friends Facebook photos from yesterday we followed in their footsteps, packed a picnic and set off for Tutbury Castle.

"This gorgeous 11th century Royal Castle will have actors in glittering costume to greet visitors in the grounds from the pages of your favourite nursery rhyme and bedtime story – no matter how old you are this will be an enchanting event. "  (from their event page)

Set in lovely Stafford countryside Tutbury is a little village just 13 minutes on the train (well a jazzed up shed on wheels) from Derby.  apologies to those who drive, this blogger doesn't so you will find (unless I have been on holiday with a chauffer - lol) my trips are on the Train.

There is a co-op at this 2 platform station for any forgotten picnic essentials. Turn right and you can smell the coffee factory and see the nestle building that produces it, walk a bit more and you come to a tiny 1 appliance fire station.

Further up the road is a park with a castle play area for the little ones and what appeared to be a more adventurous play area for older children.


Leaving the park keep right and follow the road to the castle.....whose bright idea was it to build these on hills :)

The castle itself is quite a way up the path and on busy days like this you have to contend with vehicles on some very narrow stretches.

My advice if you are driving is to arrive early, as we queued (an hour and a half after it opened) I heard them announce the car parks were now closed as they were full. by the erratic parking I think many people parked on the surrounding streets, although there is a car park on the other side of the village.

The ticket office was not very badly organised, but could have been better - we queued a long time (even tho pre-booked) to be told eventually by queue walkers just to show the paperwork to someone else for a new ticket. Then queue again to get a stamped hand.   Perhaps 2 queues would be the way forward?

The toilets (3 outside, 3 inside) simply couldn't cope with the volume of people, they need to consider hiring portaloos for events.

The organisation however was fantastic.

The entrance was awash with characters saying hello as we entered, not sure what happened to Micky and minnie mouse as we never saw them again.

The characters we met were friendly and interacted brilliantly with the children and each other. shrek guarding his cave (the south tower) brilliantly monitored (with Puss and Prince Charming) how many people were going up down to keep everyone safe and how prince Charming perfected walking backwards down the stairs while holding small children's hands was a mystery to me - I struggled to remain upright going forwards.


The pirate (captain jack or his mate) was fab. We watched him calm children, talk, and have pretend sward fights while we ate or picnic with a stunning view of the village and castle.

Huge thanks to merlin who was desperate for a drink after his show (we saw you come out the bar ;) ) who could see my little ones were queuing for the stocks while older children without parents pushed in and my husband helped them and came over for photos with mine when they had gone.

I thought the donkey rides and archery were hugely overpriced and wouldn't let my children join then, i didn't look at the other activity (fairground rides, face painting) prices so cannot comment on those.

Entry on an event day like this would set you back £6 an adult, £4 (5-12yr and OAP's) and free for children under 5.
We used a voucher code which got 4 adults in for a reduced price of £9.
There was also a groupon earlier in the year for reduced entry.

Would I go again?
Just to see the castle?  As far as a ruin goes this is pretty degraded and there are better castles to visit.
On an event day?...possibly depending what it was and how it was priced.

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