Yes the October half term is well and truly upon us. So where better to go on the first day of the holidays than Dover Castle!
Now, at this point I must confess that I am without children at the moment, they are having a long weekend with their dad, but Dr. BD is spending time with his lovely daughter and has a friend visiting with his children and they were keen to visit Dover Castle. Enter me with my English Heritage Membership, with which I can get all three kids in free of charge. This left just the two gents to pay to get in.
Cue monumental moment for myself and Dr. BD. Apparently, adding a second adult to my existing membership was cheaper than the adult paying a one off fee for entry, and so, we now have a joint membership. Dr. BD decided this was rather akin to a marriage for us. Since we have no plans to marry, I am rather fond of our new status as joint English Heritage Members.
Anyway, entrance fees all paid up, off we headed to the war time tunnels. There is always a massive queue for these so be prepared to wait. We were given a wait time of one hour, so decided on the quicker wait time of twenty minutes for the underground hospital. The hospital is quite dark and they do try to give you as real an experience of what it would have been like when it was in use during the war, sights, sounds and smells, so do expect the lights to go on and off. Oh and you will have seventy five steps to climb to get back up to ground level at the end of the tour, although a lift is available for those who need it.
Hospital done, we headed off up the hill toward the castle, yep there's a lot of climbing and uphill walking, so you get the benefit of a fun day out and a workout! If you're not so keen on walking up and down hills you can cheat and jump on the Land Train, which is also a huge amount of fun!
With Halloween looming, there are some appropriately themed activities to enjoy. There's a craft tent set up where children can enjoy making masks and spiders etc.
You also need to congregate at the tent if you fancy a guided ghost tour. Now, please be warned, this is more geared toward your little ones. You are guided round by your 'Spiritual Guide', who is a young actor with a white painted face, some period type peasant
The highlight of the day for me is always the magnificent Great Tower, built by Henry II in the 1180's. It is fabulous! I defy any child or adult not to love exploring this tower. There are two entrances, one each on opposite sides of the tower, both have grand stone spiral staircases (with nice sturdy handrails).
Off these staircases, you find smaller ones leading to different rooms within the tower and corridors. Now I won't lie, it is a long old climb, but it is well worth the trip up to the roof because the views are breathtaking, more so on a clear sunny day, but we had a slightly grey and cloudy day, but it was still worthwhile.
As well as the Halloween theme, they are also getting ready for the other holiday (ssshhhh, Christmas) and so there is a pop up shop with lots of lovely gifts, if you fancy being organised. The rest of our group decided to have a look around the exhibition, so I pootled around with my camera finding lots of interesting things.
Then a quick look in the gift shop and it was off home, but not before heading over to the Saxon Church, St Mary-in-Castro and the Roman Lighthouse. The church is currently undergoing some work so there is rather a lot of scaffolding going on, as you will see from one of the previous photos taken from the roof of the tower, but it's still impressive as is its close neighbour, the lighthouse. The inside of the lighthouse is empty, no floors remain, but it makes for a nice photo.
We had a really good day and I would definitely recommend a visit. There is a lot of walking, but don't forget you can cheat and have a bouncy ride on that Land Train. Of course, I am a little biased as this is my favourite place to go for a day out. No matter how many times I visit, I always find something new and if you go on a good day, you can see France! I know, exciting right? Well I find it exciting, but then simple things please simple minds. Also being English Heritage, they are great at putting on activities for the kids during school holidays, which is always a bonus.