During May half term, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Medieval Madness event taking place at the beautiful Powderham Castle near Exeter, Devon. This was an exciting event based on Medieval times and included lots of medieval-themed activities. Nathan and I visited on bank holiday Monday and enjoyed a relaxing and fun-filled day at the castle and grounds.
So Many Roses
Well signposted, Powderham Castle is easy to reach and isn’t far from Exeter city centre. We arrived by car and found parking super easy and free. Entry to the castle grounds was easy too and we were warmly welcomed by the staff who helped us pre-book onto the castle tours. First, we decided to head to the beautiful rose gardens which are situated on the castle’s east-facing terrace and offer some incredible views over the deer park and down to the River Exe.
I loved admiring all the stunning roses and loved the range of colours on display. The gardens have such a lovely view that we stopped and sat on one of the many benches placed around the garden for a good 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but photograph all the roses – they were just too pretty not to!
We made sure to pop into the chapel too which was super cute and quaint.
Touring the Castle
Next, it was time to check out the castle! We opted for the open house viewing which is when the castle is open to visitors to wander around freely. This happens daily at 13.15-14.00 and there are plenty of guides situated in the rooms who are more than happy to tell you further information about the state rooms or the history of the castle.
No photographs are allowed inside so apologies for the lack of photos. I can, however, tell you that the inside of the castle and the state rooms are stunning! You will just have to go and visit yourself if you want to see inside! There’s grand dining rooms, posh living rooms and a lovely conservatory room overlooking the beautiful rose garden. There are lots of family photos of the Courtenay family too and as usual when Nathan and visit somewhere grand such as Powderham Castle we couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if we lived here! We particularly loved the secret bookshelf doors and spotting all the medieval figures dotted around the rooms for us to find.
We also took the Upstairs Tour of the house which offers visitors a chance to explore never-seen-before family bedrooms and see a more personal side of the Courtenay family home. The guide was super friendly and very knowledgeable. The tour lasted about 45 minutes I recall and is included in the entry price which is great.
We enjoyed the half term ‘Medieval Madness’ event being put on at the castle. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early to enjoy the Knights of Royal England’s premiere jousting displays. I can imagine these displays would have been really atmospheric and interesting to see and I bet they kept children and adults entertained during their half term visits.
We did, however, get to see a fun and interactive show hosted by the Pocketwatch Theatre Company. Here we got involved in the medieval madness and saw lots of children thoroughly enjoying themselves all dressed up and armed with medieval swords!
There was also a tent full of crafty activities for children to get stuck in with, including medieval shield painting – something I know I would have enjoyed as a kid!
Making New Friends
As well as having a stunning castle and beautiful gardens, Powderham Castle offers visitors the opportunity to meet lots of animals too which we were expecting. We took a walk through the gardens to the Victorian Walled Garden which is home to the garden play area and pets corner. Here we found ourselves in a world of roaming birds and even a huge tortoise. There were lots of different animals to see including rodents, birds, pigs, guinea pigs and even a horse and donkey. It was a cute area where children (and Nathan!) could get up close and personal with the animals and make some new friends.
There’s a fun looking children’s play area too complete with tractor trailers and the Courtenay Fort – oh to be 7 again! You can also grab a drink from the Snack Shack which has a vending machine featuring all sorts of yummy naughtiness!
We took a walk down to the Forge too and saw the blacksmith at work.
The highlight of our visit for me has to be the Belvedere Safari Tour we went on. This tour gave us the chance to ride on the tractor-trailer and be driven through the gorgeous deer park to the grand Belvedere Tower.
We loved riding through the deer park and I was amazed at how many deer there were – apparently over 450! Our driver told us many of them were due to give birth to hundreds more deer – incredible! The slow-moving and quiet tractor enabled us to cross the park and get pretty close to the deer before they would slowly move away. I love deer, I think they are really beautiful animals with such pretty faces. It was great to see them up close and in such a stunning environment.
After moving through the deer park our driver took us to the stunning Belvedere Tower, which I thought was super striking. Here we stopped for ten minutes to admire the wonderful, far-reaching views over the Exe Estuary and Topsham.
The sun came out for us and we walked around the tower taking photos and peering into the structures inside.
After our pit stop, we took the leisurely ride back through the deer park, passing many more deer and saw some great views of the back of the castle and the rose garden. Apparently, this was the first Belvedere Safari that had been run and it took about an hour. The tour was £3.50 each and so worth it!
Deer Park Safari tours are also available and run a few times throughout the day. These are also £3.50 and enable visitors to ride for an enjoyable 45 minutes through the deer park. There are some stunning trees and lake views to admire too.
If you fancy a bite to eat whilst visiting the castle then the Courtenay Café has all you need! They serve lunches, cream teas, and ice cream too! We saw plenty of places to sit both inside and outside in the castle courtyard.
There’s also a cute little gift shop too where you can find some lovely gifts and all your usual souvenir bits. There’s also lots of information and models to look at which help you learn more about the castle and the Courtenay family as well.
For more information about visiting Powderham Castle, be sure to check out their website and check their Facebook page for the latest events – it looks like there’s a lot of cool events coming up over the summer months. Entry to the castle costs £10.95 for children (ages 4-16 years), £12.95 for adults and £39.95 for a family of 4. Tickets are valid for a return visit within 7 days – perfect for those on holiday wanting to return and explore some more.
We enjoyed our day at Powderham Castle, especially the Belvedere Safari Tour which I would say is a must to really add to your visit. The gardens were beautiful, the house majestic and the medieval madness event a bit of extra fun! Something for all the family I think and a lovely day out.
*** Our entry to Powderham Castle was gifted to us in return for this review. All thoughts, pictures, and opinions are my own. ***
Beautiful, rugged and natural Dartmoor – surely one of Devon’s most wonderful and exciting places to visit. I fell in love with it the first time and visited and enjoy it more and more each time I visit. It’s natural beauty, wild landscapes and stunning animals keep plenty of visitors returning year after year.
Back in October last year Nathan and I had a wonderful day exploring Dartmoor and all it has to offer. We kicked off the day by visiting the family-friendly Minature Pony Centre and enjoyed meeting all the super cute miniature Shetland ponies! If you’re interested and want to see more cute pony pics you can read all about our experience here.
After leaving the Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, Nathan and I parked up at the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre and walked up to Bellever Tor.
It was a lovely, easy walk through Bellever Forest, amid the tall trees and wild landscapes. There were some lovely views along the way too. We didn’t quite make it up to the top of Bellever Tor but enjoyed the views from the bottom of it and all the wild mushrooms we encountered on the way too.
On returning to the car park we popped into the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre – a great place for local information, maps for walks and lots of other Dartmoor souvenirs. We enjoyed reading all about Dartmoor and it’s wildlife.
After a quick rest and a cup of tea, we decided to pop to Postbridge where there is a real Dartmoor beauty spot to explore. Just a short hop from the main road and you are greeted with the bubbling river and famous Clapper Bridge – the perfect spot for a picnic! We sat by the river eating some snacks and enjoyed watching visitors of all ages enjoying the natural beauty of the area and paddling their feet in the water. This is certainly a very Instagram-able spot in Devon – one of many that is!
Driving home we passed through the centre of the National Park and were amazed to stumble across all the wild animals on the side of the road. We saw hundreds of lazy sheep chilling in the sun and saw lots of gorgeous horses and Shetland ponies grazing in the long grasses.
Best of all we witness a herd of highland cows crossing the road in front of our car and later blocking the entrance to the parking area in which we had stopped to have a cheeky hot chocolate! They were so beautiful and I could have stayed watching them all day – especially with their cute calves.
We had the best day out exploring Dartmoor! It started with fun at the Miniature Pony Centre before we enjoyed a hike across Bellever Tor and earned a relaxing sit down by the river at Postbridge. We finished the day by driving through the heart of the Dartmoor National Park and experienced the wild cows, sheep and ponies that roam the moor. What a lovely day exploring the county in which I am lucky enough to live. Take me back any day!
On a sunny Sunday in October last year, Nathan and I visited the delightful and family run Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, Devon. Situated deep in the Dartmoor National Park the Miniature Pony Centre is a great family attraction, fun for all ages and perfect for pony lovers!
We managed to get our hands on discounted entrance tickets to the pony centre through Groupon. The offer was for half price adult entry, meaning the tickets cost just £8.95 for us both. I can imagine if using Groupon to get tickets for a family this would really help save quite a bit of money.
Miniature Shetland Ponies
Inside the centre there is a huge herd of miniature Shetland ponies to see, some in paddocks being fed and others roaming free in the main paddock. Here visitors can make friends with the mini ponies whilst wandering around the paddock and seeing the cute little Shetlands up close. This was something neither Nathan or I had done before so was quite a fun experience.
It’s perfectly safe for you to stroke the ponies and there’s advice on how to do this. The ponies soon make it clear if they aren’t up to any company and simply walk away from you – a sure sign they aren’t interested in being petted at that time. Nathan and I found that trying to take some miniature pony selfies was harder than we anticipated!
There are also some horses residing at the pony centre which were beautiful to look at and clearly looked after very well. There’s even a unicorn present too which was a bit different!
Plenty More to See
Animal lovers will be so at home here as not only can visitors see the cute miniature Shetland ponies and horses but also see alpacas, mules, foals and goats. Various birds including peacocks and chickens can be seen roaming around too. Apparently, some rather different type of animals can be seen also – cockroaches and giant African land snails – we missed these during our visit which I think on reflection I am quite pleased about!
We noticed there was lots for children to get involved in – tractor rides, pony rides and talks on the animals too. I found myself wishing I was small enough to able to try riding a pony! I don’t think I ever did this as a child and now I feel hard done by!!
Tickets and Visitor Information
Further information and the option to pre-book ticketed can be found on the Miniature Pony Centre website. The centre had free parking, is well signposted and has it’s own café – the Paddock View Café serving a variety of hot and cold food and drinks. There’s a gift shop, parkland, and gardens to wander around and both an indoor and outdoor play area for the kids too. I quite like the sound of a pony care day too – the perfect solution for a pony mad child who wants to learn how to look after ponies and get up close and personal with them. Why isn’t this open to adults too!
The Dartmoor Pony Centre was a lovely place for an afternoon visit and we enjoyed seeing a real icon the Dartmoor National Park – the miniature Shetland pony. We enjoyed being able to see the ponies up close and having a leisurely walk around the garden areas too. I can imagine this is a great place to visit with children and with regular offers on Groupon it would be even better if some money can be saved – more spare pennies for ice cream in the centre’s Paddock View Café!
As part of my solo South West tour of England back in September 2018 I stayed at the incredible Hideaway at Kingsland Farm – a gorgeous shepherds hut retreat just outside Dorset. Check out my full review of my wonderful stay.
What’s On Bridport
Whilst in Bridport I was sure to check out the town and see what it had to offer. Parking my car was easy and I enjoyed walking through the town’s high street. I reached the tourist information office and of course brought a couple of postcards!
I made my way to the Bridport Museum – a free museum detailing the history of Bridport and life in Dorset. There are lots of interesting displays telling visitors all about the market town and stories from days gone by. There’s a gallery dedicated to Anglo-Saxon times and an interesting display of rocks and fossils.
There was lots to learn about the town’s famous net and rope making industry and some interesting machinery to look at. There are over 800 years of history to read about and some interactive display points to keep people interested too.
Considering the museum is free to enter I think there is so much to see and learn and it was really well maintained. If you’re looking for something free to do whilst in Bridport then it really is a must!
Home Front Home Exhibition
Back in September when I visited the museum there was a really interesting temporary exhibition called ‘Home Front Home’. The exhibition was commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I and focused on telling women’s stories from the war and how they experienced the time in Bridport.
Display boards told stories of 7 different women who lived through the war and tells you all about their different roles and responsibilities. It was so interesting to hear about the local women and see pictures of where they lived and worked.
Bridport Arts Centre and Philip Sutton Exhibition
After enjoying my time at the Bridport Museum I stopped off at the Bridport Arts Centre – a centre featuring art exhibitions, cinema shows, and other arty events. I stumbled across an art exhibition – Philip Sutton at 90 – which celebrated the artwork of Philip Sutton.
The artwork was really incredible and there were several pieces I really liked. I appreciated the bright colours of the paintings and would have happily brought a couple for my flat if I had been able to afford the price tags!
After all that walking around and learning I was in need of a cuppa tea and a tasty snack. I stopped off at one of the many tempting cafes along the main high street and sat outside watching the locals going about their daily lives. I can’t remember what was in this cake but it was so bloomin tasty – I know that! I enjoyed it whilst reading through some local leaflets I had picked up from the tourist information office and planned to head to some of the nearby beaches.
Have you ever been to Bridport? What did you think? Did I miss anything out?
So it’s the end of May, the sun is shining and summer finally feels like it is on its way! What better time is there to start thinking about the exciting summer months ahead! Time for a summer bucket list I think!
Summer 2018 Recap
Last summer I was lucky enough to have some really great adventures and experiences. This involved loads of glamping and staying in amazing and unique places to stay such as ‘Mr Yurt’ at Petruth Paddocks Campsite in Somerset, a beautiful shepherds hut with The Wood Life in Devon and the perfect stargazing getaway at Freshwell Camping in Croyde, North Devon. If you haven’t tried glamping yet then you absolutely must put in on your bucket list for this summer!
I was also able to visit some lovely gardens including Bishop’s Palace in Wells, Somerset and the Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway in Hampshire. Various rounds of crazy golf were played with Nathan and lots of memories made at beaches all around the South West coastline. Two of my favorites have to be the glorious Westward Ho in North Devon and climbing Baggy Point in Croyde. Best of all I enjoyed a fun family week away at Brean Sands Holiday Park with my Nan, sister and her two children – so many good times!
So What About Summer 2019?
With summer 2019 fast approaching I find myself wondering what I will be getting up to and what adventures are out there to be had! As with anywhere I go or stay I always do my research online, looking at visitor information, entry prices and reviews. I also often view discount and deal sites to ensure I am getting the best deals on attraction prices, experiences or accommodation stays. Who doesn’t love a bargain?!
I recently came across the deal site latestdeals.co.uk and found they have a whole section dedicated to cheap adventure deals – ohhh yeah! The page is full of voucher codes, sale offers, and discounts on adventures and also adventure items to accompany you on your trips. I mean who doesn’t love an adventure and who doesn’t love being able to do this for cheaper?! There were a couple of deals on the site that really stood out to me and that I will be adding to my summer 2019 bucket list.
Although we mostly did glamping (glamorous camping) last year, I am keen to get back to basics this year and go camping! The Latest Deals site is offering a 2-3 person pop up tent for £20 – not sure you can go wrong with that and Nathan and I are in need of a new tent so think this will be a certain purchase for us! We have previously enjoyed a couple of camping trips in Cornwall and if the weather is good its a cheap and fun way to get away for a weekend. I’ll just need to convince Nathan to go as he is always the one responsible for putting up the tent and blowing up the air beds!
Adventure Golf Championship
Adventure golf – something Nathan and I love and do often wherever we go! I saw on the cheap adventure deals page that there’s an offer of a 33% discount on an adventure golf course which I believe saves quite a few pounds. This deal reminded me that Nathan and I need to start up our little adventure golf championship – not that we are competitive or anything! You can find out who won when we played mini golf last summer at both the Safari Adventure Golf Course in Dawlish and the Pirates Adventure Golf Course at Wookey Hole in Somerset by clicking on the links!
South West Beaches
I also want to make sure Nathan and I explore even more beaches as there are still lots that we haven’t been to in the South West yet. We really enjoy long coastal walks and picnics so this is certainly something I hope we can do more of. These days are always a relatively cheap day out as all you really need to pay for is your picnic, car park fees and of course an ice cream along the way!
After a few months of being together, Nathan and I tried a treetop ariel adventure course and what a hoot it was! Whilst it was super challenging, we laughed so much and I will never forget the experience! We absolutely must put another treetop adventure on our 2019 summer bucket list!
National Trust Summer Exhibitions
I hope we continue to visit our favourite National Trust properties and see all the changing exhibitions they offer. The gardens at National Trust properties are always so gorgeous during the summer months and a great place for a weekend walk. Some of my favourites we ventured to last year were Monks House in Sussex and Trelissick House and Gardens in Cornwall.
A Driving Experience
Something I have never tried before is any sort of driving experience. I always think I wouldn’t be interested in them or enjoy them but after looking at the 4×4 off-road adventure experience offered on the latest deals website I think I could be tempted – especially if it’s half price! I wonder if I would be any good. I did famously write my car off by driving into a recycling skip… enough said.
We are also off on a cruise (!) at the end of the summer so definitely stand by for our adventures on board! Neither of us has ever been on a cruise before and so we are super excited but a little nervous too! If anyone has any cruise advice for us then please let us know your tips in the comments below! I can’t wait to explore lots of different countries around the Med and of course lap up all the food on offer!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my first thought ideas for my summer 2019 bucket list and it’s given you some ideas of places you can visit in the South West of England or ideas of adventures you can have more local to you. Remember, there is often always a deal to be had out there on the world wide web and so always do your research and hunt for a bargain! I really recommend using discount sites like the Latest Deals one I mentioned above as they always have great discounts and offers and you might find something you had never even thought of doing before! Happy adventuring!
What’s on your 2019 summer bucket list? Leave me a comment and let me know!±