I haven’t ticked anything off my 50 before 50 list since last October and I have managed to do two things in the space of two weeks!
Last weekend we visited Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and most famously, the much beloved home of Queen Elizabeth II and some of her family.
Like most attractions, the Royal Collections Trust has introduced advance booking and reduced the number of people they can welcome at any one time to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic.
Our slot was booked for 11am and we made sure we arrived in plenty of time, parking at Romney Lock long-stay car park which is a short 5 minute walk from the castle entrance.
Safety is high on the agenda at the castle and we formed a socially distanced queue for our time slot to get into the castle, before putting our bags through an airport-style security check before being allowed in. All of which took less than 15 minutes.
Once inside, you can then pick up a sanitised multimedia guide at a black hut just before the main gate, which talks you through all aspects and history of the castle.
We used the family multimedia guide which helps the kids learn about the Castle with Scorch the dragon as the guide.
He not only talks you through each room, but shows pictures and has you playing games, perfect for keeping the kids interested as you explore.
At 11am, we picked an early visit and found it was lovely and quiet and we could explore without crowds of people, or having to queue.
Our first stop was the lower ward of the castle, home to St George’s Chapel where Harry and Meghan and Eugenie and Jack both got married.
It was possibly the one disappointment on our visit that access to the inside was not possible as the chapel is closed on a Sunday, but it was a beautiful sight nonetheless.
The kids were very excited to witness a changing of the guard too.
From St George’s Chapel, you can walk around the side of the castle and take in the views across Windsor and beyond.
It is from here that you continue your tour inside. We were required to produce our tickets again and you are reminded that photography is not allowed.
Not having a camera in your hand is a blessing as it really allows you to take in all the detail and splendour that surround you.
There really is a “WOW” moment around every corner and this is where the multimedia guides really came into their own, explaining exactly what the room would have been used for and details about the items on display.
Our favourite room in the castle had to be St George’s Hall, which was completely destroyed by the fire in 1992. The kids were fascinated by the story and the images of the event on their multimedia devices, and the restored hall can only be described as magnificent.
St George’s Hall was restored to a design close to the room’s original 14th-century appearance, but with a 20th-century reinterpretation. The Hall, which hosts state banquets is lined with portraits and busts of monarchs and other royal members of the Order of the Garter and their shields decorate its roof.
There are staff wearing PPE shields dotted around to answer any questions and ensure that everyone is social distancing, but everyone was respectful and we found it was lovely and quiet, with just a handful of other guests inside.
The final part of our visit was to the East Terrace Garden – a private part of the castle that isn’t usually open to visitors, where The Queen grew vegetables as a child during the War.
The large formal garden is overlooked by Windsor Castle’s famous east façade.
The garden features clipped domes of Yew and beds of 3,500 rose bushes planted in a geometric pattern around a central fountain.
Sebby was most excited about the row of cannons though.
A Family Ticket to Windsor Castle ( 2 adults and up to 3 children under 17’s) costs £60.50 and gives you free readmission for a year.
It is a truly stunning place to visit and I would recommend arriving as early as possible as we found it got busier later in the day.
Our castle visit took around 2 hours and then we explored Windsor itself, which was a lot busier, especially around the castle and cafe’s!
To make a day of it, I highly recommend you tie in the Long Walk at Windsor Great Park.
This impressive three mile long tree-lined avenue is clearly signposted from the town and begins at the George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle and ends at a magnificent Copper Horse statue.
We didn’t see any of the famous deer during our visit, but the kids were happy enough with a massive haul of conkers from the tree-lined avenue.
Have you visited Windsor before?
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Royal Collection Trust for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own