After a morning of shifting logs, the sad remnants of an enormous fallen tree, from one end of the garden to the other and stacking them in the shed, I was fairly stiff and very bored. It was a lovely day, so even though there is an immense pile still sitting there, I put the wheelbarrow back in the garage and decided to go and walk along the river, taking in Holt Castle.
A number of people have asked me if I’ve visited the castle yet, and my answer that the last time I saw it was probably 30 years ago always seems a tad lame, given how close it is. I will talk about the castle on another post, but it was interesting today to see how much it has changed. When I was last there, it was inaccessible and covered in ivy. I remember the doorway hanging in the side of the wall, and remembered that it was built on a sandstone base, and that local sandstone was quarried from around the castle to provide building material and form a moat, but I had forgotten anything else that I knew about it. Today, I was so pleased to see how well it has been served since I last saw it. There is now a staircase leading to the top of the castle, from which the views of the Dee and the fields beyond are excellent, and there is plenty of signage to explain all the features remaining, and to show what existed in the Middle Ages. I must try to find the photographs I took 30 years ago for comparison.
I was walking straight into the sun, which was beautiful but blinding, so after visiting the castle I retraced my steps and headed instead towards the bridge, crossed the road just before it, and went through the gate into the grass field that flanks the Dee to its west, heading north in the direction of Chester. It was only a short walk. I did not pass out of the field onto the track, which was covered with deep pools of muddy water, but the sun on the grass made it glow, the reflections in the river were lovely, and the cobwebs forming silver nets on the ground were glorious, and all in all it was a really rewarding stroll.
Visiting and accessibility notes
There is no carpark for the castle, but during the week there is plenty of on-road parking. The footpath leading down to the Dee is well maintained, but as it opens into the open grass it is muddy and a little slippery after rainfall. That is true for the worn footpaths around the castle too, so suitable footwear is required. The path leading up to the top of the castle is gravel set into a plastic matrix, and felt very safe underfoot. The metal staircase up tot he top of the castle is also well-textured underfoot, with a good handrail. It’s only a short flight. Do note that the noise from the bypass is considerable, so if you were thinking of carrying on along the Dee to the south after seeing the castle, do bear that in mind.
The walk along the Dee has no car park on the Holt side, but cross the bridge and there is a small car park on the Farndon side, to the south of the river (to the right as you cross from Holt into Farndon). You can then return across the bridge on the narrow footpath to do the walk on the west of the river heading north. As you open the gate, you may again find that the converging feet and paws have muddied the approach from the field, making it slippery. The rest of the walk through the field is slip-free, and on the flat.