Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire is about halfway between our home in Yorkshire, and our Easter destinations of Cadbury World and Drayton Manor, and so made a handy stop off point on our journey. It certainly was much prettier than the service station on the nearby M1, and had a lot more room to run around.
Bolsover Castle is managed by English Heritage. It lies in the Derbyshire village of Bolsover, and was built as a party pad by a local nobleman in the 17th century. It is signposted off the M1 and is pretty easy to find.
Car parking is available in the village and marked, but it was full on the day of our visit, so we drove towards the castle a bit more and found further car parking to the side of the castle. It was a short walk back down the lane to the main entrance.
Entrance was free with our English Heritage family pass.
Our first stop was the children’s playground, which was pretty good. There were some swings, slides, and some wooden forts to climb on. Nearby there are some picnic tables, so we stopped for our picnic before going off to explore the castle and the grounds.
The grounds were beautiful. The castle is in two main parts – there’s a ‘keep’ style building and also more of a mansion with a great hall. There are also some stables and a riding school, walls, and a gorgeous garden.
First, we went to explore the riding school. In here, there are often events which you can go watch. Not today though! We could however, learn a lot about the history of Bolsover Castle, and the people who lived there. We could dress up and pretend to be horse riders too, which is a lot of fun. The toilets are in this part too, just in case you need them.
The old house – known as the Terrace Range – overlooks the M1, and is now in ruins. In its day, it was a grand house with a great hall, huge ceilings, and lots of downstairs rooms such as cellars, kitchens, and stores.
The keep – known as the Little Castle – is in a much better state, and much of it has been restored by English Heritage. The interiors are lavish and fitting of the castle’s status as a welcoming party pad for aristocracy. My children were fascinated by some of the murals, particularly those in the ground floor anteroom, which are definitely aimed at adults! In this part, there are a lot of stairs and no lifts, so you will need your walking feet on.
If you’re a fan of interiors, then Bolsover Castle won’t disappoint. The ceilings in the Little Castle in particular are fascinating.
Around the Little Castle are the walls and the gardens. The walls give you some fantastic views over Bolsover, and the little ones some exercise, but please take care as it’s not all baby-proofed – it is an old castle after all. There are, as to be expected, a lot of stony steps.
Quick pit stop in the cafe before we get back in the car. Nice food, usual attraction cafe prices.
Total visit time – 2 – 3 hours including a picnic and cafe pit stop
We loved our visit to Bolsover Castle. It was a much more pleasant option than the M1 services, and added extra value to an otherwise average motorway journey.
Have a look at more photos on our video.
For more information, please visit the website of Bolsover Castle.