A Rainy Day Adventure: Exploring Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle stands in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, incongruously medieval in the midst of a modern city. It’s home to a sumptuous Victorian palace and an iconic clock tower, but since we didn’t think our little 7-year-old would enjoy an hour-long guided tour, we opted to explore its other sights on our own instead.

It was a drizzly day – not unusual weather for the capital city of Wales – so we started off by ducking into the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and the Royal Welsh military museum (a first visit for all three of us). Inside, there’s an interesting display of military uniforms and weapons from over 300 years of British warfare. We were thrilled to see a section relating to the Anglo-Boer Wars (and I remembered once again why my South African grandfather wasn’t too keen on me marrying a Welshman!).

Our heads filled with history, we stepped back even further into time to explore the Roman Wall, the remains of what was once a Roman fort. Running the length of this archaeological treasure is a mural completed in 1983 by a local artist depicting the life and tribulations of an ancient tribe from the area, culminating in the Chariot Corner showing scenes of the Romans invading.

Although little Aidan found the museum and the old wall quite boring, he loved exploring the grounds once we were outside again, posing with dragons and admiring peacocks, rainy weather not a deterrent in the least!

Next up was the Norman Keep, a place that features in a novel I wrote, and I was really keen to see up close again. Admiring the daffodils growing along the banks of the moat, we scurried up the wet steps and found ourselves inside the empty circular walls. Hard to believe that there were once buildings inside this small space. A few more steps to reach the ramparts and we were rewarded with the most amazing panoramic view of Cardiff, once again struck by the juxtaposition between old and new.

Then it was time to move on. In the two years that I used to live and work in Cardiff, I never once walked further than the castle! It was time to rectify that oversight, since I’d noticed on Google Maps it was flanked by a rather large park. And so it was that we discovered the Animal Wall!

Aidan was delighted with these animal sculptures, and he ran from one to the next, squealing in excitement. He had trouble deciding, but eventually declared the leopard his favourite. Personally, I liked the bear the best – he looks like he has a story to tell!

Have you been to Cardiff Castle? Do you have a favourite on the Animal Wall?

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