Sunday 26 August 2018

Return To Wray Castle

Unbelievably it's been over a year since we first visited Wray Castle. On our first visit we were really impressed by how child friendly it was. With it's baby and parent room, Peter Rabbit Adventure and soft play, Wray Castle makes visiting a historic place easy.

But nearly two years on does it still offer a happy kid friendly adventure?

Father and little boy standing in front of a gothic style castle

The answer is yes but with exceptions from the grownups! 

Whilst Wray Castle still offers a great place for kids to create, play and have adventures, it seemed a little different this time around. When we arrived we were greeted by friendly staff, who advised things had changed a little since our last visit, with the biggest thing being the new exhibit and with it the relocation of the cafe. 

The exhibit and additions to the Wray Castle collection give a slightly different insight into the life of Beatrix Potter, who holidayed there with her parents. It shares her interest in sciences and especially in plants. 

As with most National Trust properties this year, Wray Castle marks the 100 years of the women's vote movement. The exhibit includes frames of women's dresses and the chance to leave a note upon them or the wall. 

Wire skirt frame on a dummy with notes attached

 I thought this and the Beatrix exhibition were great additions to the castle and give something for the grownups to experience.

Tapestry hanging on a wall with notes attached

With Peter's Adventure, the areas dedicated to farming, the Sea Scouts/Cadets, soft play, craft and dressing up, there are hours of fun for little ones.

Little boy playing with a plastic wheelbarrow, full of plastic fruit and veg

Child sitting on a mock bridge

Little boy standing in from of a train made of soft play bricks

Little boy dressed as a knight holding a sword and holding a sword in the air

 There's also the snooker table for Daddies! 

Daddy and son playing snooker

 There's also the addition of a children's trail since our last visit, where children need to spot Miss Potter's well known characters around the house.

As we'd previously visited Wray Castle in the rainy autumn last time we didn't get chance for a walk down to the lake, so this time we made sure we did!

Long path with a little boy in the distance

We sat on the shore in the sun, paddled in the lake, fed the ducks and their chicks, and watched sheep stroll down to the water to quench their first.

Shore of a lake

Ducks on the edge of a lake

Sheep drinking from the lake

Little boy holding his mum's hand as they paddle in the lake

 It was bliss.

Little boy and mum paddling in the lake

Now, I mentioned earlier in my post that there were some exceptions that caused us to not love Wray Castle a hundred percent this time. As much as I feel like I don't want to mention the issues, as we loved it so much before and partly this time, I always vow to give honest reviews so I will!

The first downside was the smell. Most old houses have them but this was a different kind of whiff! The castle smelt damp, musty and a bit like old cabbage. We have visited plenty of historic places and stately homes and have never known a smell like that! We also visited on one of the hottest days of the year so surely it couldn't have been damp?!

Next, kind of goes with the smell and its down to cleanliness. I expect dust but not actual muck! 

Little boy go up an oak staircase

For us though the biggest letdown was the food. We love food and plan where and when we are eating when we plan our holidays, and we've also become fond of the National Trust cafes! Unfortunately though, we were disappointed when we found that Wray Castle cafe has been outsourced. We were even more disappointed when we arrived just after 1pm and there was very little on offer.  We were thankful they had a kids box and expected it be like the one usually available but again we were disappointed. 

It came with thick crust door step type bread used for the sandwich, which our 4 year old struggled to get his mouth around, hand cooked crisps (way too hard for a child) and the part that surprised me the most, whole grapes on the bunch! It's been in the press so much about the risk grapes and them being a choking hazard that I don't quite understand why they are in a child's lunch. I realise that it's down to a parent to supervise a child but what if a parent has their hands full with other children and doesn't spot them on the plate? Or maybe a child is out with grandparents, aunts or uncles that don't known the risk?!

Now, don't get me wrong we still enjoyed our time at Wray Castle and we may go back, but in the meantime I hope they give it a good clean and bring back the National Trust cafe!

Little boy dressed as a knight holding a sword and shield and pulling a face

Mummy Snowy Owl

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