Today started rather disappointingly.  We thought we should really take a look at Symonds Yat as we were on the doorstep so to speak.

Unfortunately, we could not get anywhere near it in Bessie and didn’t really have the time to park in the forest car park and walk down.  So, after struggling down the narrow lanes, we decided to make our way over the river Wye and see it from the other side.  All we could find here was a horrible looking static campsite,an amusement arcade and rather tacky looking cafe.  Needless to say, we hightailed it out of there and gave up the idea.

Instead we decided to head for Goodrich Castle which is situated near Welsh Bicknor (remember St Margaret’s Church?).  The car park seemed to have a reasonable 3G signal and the castle looked interesting so we parked and walked up to the information centre and reception.  The Castle is looked after by English Heritage and it seemed a good idea to join then and there.  The offer of 15 months membership, which also gave half price entry to many other attractions not covered by EH was an attractive one, especially as we could use it for Scotland, Wales and Ireland too.

The sun was threatening to break through as we walked up the track towards the castle.  Some sheep resting under a tree made a peaceful sight and proved irrestible to me and my camera (featured image above).  And then the castle hove into sight – remarkable.

Building of the castle was begun in the late 11th century by the English landowner, Godric, who gave it his name.  It was added to in the 12th century by the Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Goodrich and thereafter passed to Henry III’s half-brother, William de Valence, who rebuilt its defences and living quarters in some style.  Goodrich still boasts the most complete medieval domestic buildings surviving in any English castle.

Entrance to the Gatehouse

Gatehouse and Chapel








In the Chapel there are two modern stained glass windows.  The first was unveiled in 1992 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a crash over Goodrich of a Halifax aeroplane carrying the prototype of the first ever mapping radar bombing aid, killing all 11 onboard.  The second from 2000 represents the castle, the local churches, the river Wye and the people of the surrounding areas.

Memorial window

Millenium window by Nicola Hopwood










The solar block contained a great chamber for the most important members of the lord’s household and in the later Middle Ages more rooms were created by adding another storey above.  The basement was probably used for storage and by servants.

Solar block








If, like me, you have difficulty picturing this from the remaining bare stone walls, this illustration showing how it might have looked at the time could prove useful.

Artist impression of life in the Solar block


In the south-east tower you can still see the fireplaces, wash basins and window seats in the two upper rooms – evidence that guests at the castle were treated to all mod cons.

First class guest accommodation

Sanitary arrangements were, however, not quite up to modern day standards…

Communal latrines!

…although there is mention of wooden seats.  Pity the poor small boy whose job it was to clean out the cesspits!

There was no way that I was going to climb the narrow stone staircase inside the keep to get to the top but Peter was intrepid and took this magnificent photo showing the  River Wye snaking its way through the surrounding countryside.

From the top of the keep

“Roaring Meg”









Life at Goodrich Castle came to a sticky end during the Civil War when Parliamentarian forces used a deadly mortar named “Roaring Meg” (only surviving example) to destroy much of it, leaving the ruin you see today.



Although we had some rain whilst at Goodrich, the sun came out again for our journey to the Hereford C&CC campsite.  It is beautifully situated beside the millpond that gave it its original name and we were lucky enough to get a pitch facing it.  This looks an excellent site.

Bessie taking it easy…