How To Visit A Castle

You have obviously come to this website in order to find out all about castles. You may be contemplating the possibility of actually visiting one or two. This could prove to be a somewhat dangerous business, so here are some words of advice, arranged in the form of a series of questions and answers.

Q1 Can I take my dog?

A1 Dogs are not necessarily a hazard to other castle visitors, but what they leave behind could be. Some sites say they welcome dogs, others ban them. I would say if you can avoid bringing Fido with you, great.

Q2 Should I take my children?

A2 Children can certainly be a serious hazard to the aged castle fanatic, on the other hand they are going to be the next generation of said fanatics, so they should be actively encouraged. And you can always send them ahead to check the safety of a particular route.

Q3 What special clothing should I wear when visiting a castle?

A3 There are no hard and fast rules on this one, but there are certain sites where full Himalayan climbing kit could prove useful. (Especially the ropes and crampons.) High-heeled court shoes are a definite no-no.

Q4 Can I take granny in her wheel-chair?

A4 By all means, but remember that castles were not designed for this sort of access, so she may not be able to visit all of the site, particularly the upper floors. Phone before you visit to check on any special facilities / help that may be available.

Q5 What is the best way to negotiate a spiral staircase?

A5 Go up on the inside of the stairs, hanging on to the newel for support, come down on the outside of the stairs, hanging on to the handrail or rope. At all times keep a sharp ear open for the sound of other people's children approaching (usually at Mach 4).

Q6 When do I buy a guide book?

A6 When you buy your entrance ticket.

Q7 When do I read the guide book?

A7 When you get home. That way you discover all the interesting things that you didn't see, and thus have an excuse to go there again.

Q8 In view of your earlier answers, are castles actually safe places to visit?

A8 They are perfectly safe. Just remember that stone steps wear with the passing of time, floors can become very uneven, and that there are usually a fair number of slopes about. If you walk sensibly and look where you are going, you should have no problems.

Q9 Should I take my camera with me?

A9 Yes. This is a most essential piece of equipment. If you have pictures of more than one castle on a single film, you will have hours of pleasure trying to work out which castle that particular shot belongs to. The one problem with photographing castles is waiting for all the other people with cameras to get out of the way of your shot.

Q10 If I find a particular feature that interests me, is there anyone I can ask for more information?

A10 Ask the custodian, or whoever sold you your entrance ticket(s). They will be more than willing to help. On no account approach that grey-haired, bearded and bespectacled old gent with six cameras hanging round his neck and a copy of "The Ultimate Garderobe Companion" tucked under his arm. He could be a real castle fanatic...he could be me...