Restormel Castle

Image courtesy of English Heritage

In Brief

Type: History attraction
Suitable for: History buffs
Address: Restormel Road, Lostwithiel, near Bodmin
Price: English Heritage members free, adults £6.50, seniors £5.90, five to 17-year-olds £3.90 and under-fives go for free
Dog friendly?: Yes

Visiting an ancient castle can make for a magical day out as you transport yourself back hundreds of years and wander around perhaps a motte, a bailey and some grand old rooms. Sometimes, these rooms have been restored to their former glory and there may be cannons that still point out to land or sea. But what about those castles that haven’t been restored to their former glory? What’s the point of seeing some old rubble?

There’s a lot of point in seeing old rubble. You can still get the size and dimensions of the castle, you can get to understand its vantage point in the landscape and you still get to learn about all the stories that surround an important historical building. Inside the rubble, you can no less imagine what life was like all those centuries ago. These are the exact reasons as to why Restormel Castle, near Lostwithiel and Bodmin, and a little to the north of Fowey, must be visited by anyone with even a fleeting interest in ancient history.

Yes, this castle is in ruins – it has been since the 16th century – but these ruins are glorious. Surrounded by the beautiful Cornish countryside and commanding stunning views across the Fowey valley, Restormel has been labelled ‘one of the most remarkable castles in Britain’. Built in the late 13th century, this was once a luxurious retreat for its owners and today the remains of its rooms hint at how grand the building once was, with large fireplaces and high windows still standing for visitors to enjoy. The Great Hall is a highlight as the sheer size, space and design give a real sense of its former luxury and grandeur.

Edward, the Black Prince – who was made Duke of Cornwall in 1337 but died before his father, King Edward III, so never made it to the throne – twice visited Restormel Castle. He won’t have been the only important historical figure to have stayed there over the structure’s hundreds of years of history. On your visit, be sure to take in all this history and get a sense of how busy life would have been here as you go on the wall walk around the inside of the keep before climbing up the stone stairs from the courtyard and taking in the superb rural views from a higher vantage point.

Lots of people come here to picnic and take in the history, sights and smells, particularly as there are some wonderful flowers and plants around the site at the right times of the year. And then there are some great walking trails around the area to enjoy too. Pre-booking your timed entry into the site is essential, though, so go on the attraction’s English Heritage website before heading out to one of the oldest historical buildings that’s still standing in Cornwall. Who cares if it’s in ruins? It just adds to the atmosphere.