By the time we got there (11:30) the first available entry into the castle itself was 1:30. This gave us plenty of time to complete the Easter Egg hunt. This was different from the ones we had already done as it combined instructions on each clue as to where to find the next one, letters to record and some tokens to pick up on the way round. The combination of the 3 prevented cheating! We were also challenged to spot gold and silver eggs hidden around the gardens for a bonus prize. On some of the clues the children also had little extra challenges such as bunny hopping to the next clue. The whole hunt took us all the way around the beautiful gardens and we got to see the vegetable gardens, bee hives, orchard and chicken area as well as the formal gardens:
We all had fun looking for the clues and exploring the gardens. The children were very pleased to win 2 eggs and a balloon each for solving both parts of the trail. To recover from the excitement we had a picnic in the formal gardens. Then it was time to go to the castle for our time slot. Whilst we were waiting in the courtyard we were given a picture quiz to keep the children happy and an information sheet for the adults. Once in the castle we were given a choice of several quiz sheets for children with varying levels of complexity plus an extra Easter bunny hunt just for the holiday weekend. The castle dates back to the 14th century and has a real mix of styles over several centuries. I must admit escorting a supersonic 4 year old round didn't really give me time to appreciate it fully!
A quick refreshment break was required before heading off on a 3 mile family walk my mum had downloaded from the castle web site. This took us on a wonderful exploration of the local countryside through Brigsteer wood and back to the castle:
It was a real nature trail in the woods spotting flowers and butterflies, luckily my mum had some little nature books but wish I'd taken some of the Usborne spotters guides! My daughter really enjoyed helping granny to identify the flowers and butterflies. Both children loved playing hide and seek amongst the trees too. By the time we had climbed up to St John's in Helsington Church above Brigsteer we were all in need of refreshment so were pleasantly surprised to discover that free tea and coffee were being distributed in the church by 2 of the lady parishoners. Apparently they do this on most bank holidays which is a lovely idea.
We then had a slow descent back down to the castle through some more woods and across farmland. If you want to see more photographs then please look at this Smilebox creation:
|Photo slideshow made with Smilebox|
I would quite happily repeat any of the day and must get back to visit the castle without any children in tow!