13 April 2017

Visiting Windsor Castle

I recently treated myself to a visit to London, to catch up with some friends and have a bit of a reminisce about the days in which I used to live there.  It's been 8 years since I left the big smoke so thought it was time I went back.

During my short stay I was super keen to pop to Windsor on the train and visit a very very old friend, my favourite castle in the world (yep sorry Carlisle!) Windsor. This place will always have a special place in my heart because well, look at it, but also I spent 5 years of my life working here!

If you have never been to Windsor, then WHY they hell not? I just adore it, but I could be slightly biased. I  will never forget my very first visit though and being just overwhelmed with how big it was and just how much it dominates the small town, I had no idea it would be like, right there...

As soon as you turn the corner from the station (Windsor and Eton Riverside direct from Clapham Junction 45 mins) you are confronted by the huge walls, it is right in the middle of the high street.  I always think Windsor looks 'new' because of the colour of the stone, I guess I'm used to red or darker stone coloured castles. But it is hard to believe it is around 900 years old though.

I love these round towers right here on the street!

Henry VIII Gate is the first one you come to, but this is actually the visitor exit. Armed policemen stand on here, something you won't exactly see at any other castles.

The day I visited, The Queen was actually in residence, the Royal Standard flag was flying away on top of the round tower (that's how you know she's there of course, Union Flag flying means she's not home!)

The picturesque walls and gates just get better and better and prettier and prettier as you walk round. It is such a well kept place. I know it has to be, but everyone who works there really does take such a pride in the place and this is evident everywhere.

I love this gate. In a former life I took groups of kids round the Castle and would stand here and give them tips on attacking and scaling the walls! Any excuse to talk of trebuchets, I love a trebuchet!

Beautiful arrow loops.

The main part of the Castle is of course the Round Tower. And no The Queen does not live in this part of the Castle, although I SO would if I was Queen. The Round Tower actually houses the Royal Library.  I've been very lucky to have been in the library and in fact been all the way to the top of this tower and seen how they raise the flag! (exciting stuff) This part is not sadly on the visitor route.

Check out those buttresses.

I love the curves.

Just as I was peeking round the corner a herd of soldiers came flying past, heading somewhere or other, I quickly snapped them as they were marching.  I did also see just round this corner a helicopter arriving in the garden, sreeeam! I BET it was William and Catherine coming to visit granny!

You are not permitted into this quadrangle bit, I do believe The Queen's living quarters are in here (no I haven't been in!) I'm always WAY more intrigued by the roped and railed off sections of historic properties.

It is not just The Queen that lives at the Castle, loads of people do! Staff and knights etc, super lucky people with grace and favour apartments etc.  This above is The Governor's house, his garden is super pretty.

The Castle has its own massive cathedral in the grounds. Henry VIII is buried in here too! Plus I'm sure lots of other kings and queens.

I love these old little houses tucked behind St George's chapel. These are residences, and there are more when you peek through the little archway too. Once upon a time I was permitted to go through that archway.

It's a little frustrating visiting when not a staff member anymore, hehe, I can't just go in all the 'private' doors anymore, sad times.

Everyone else was doing so, so I snapped this soldier on duty. I was a little too shy to hold the camera right up to his face, bit rude that right, he's not actually a tourist attraction, like most would believe!

My favourite view of the Castle has to be at the back. You come out of the front, and wander down the road (stupidly pretty road full of dream town houses no less) and then behind the Castle is a loooong driveway with just the prettiest glimpse of the building.

I obviously picked the best day to visit with full sunshine and all the blossom out.

This is the view the opposite way. This is called the Long Walk, well because er, it's long. It's stupidly pretty. It leads off into Windsor Great Park where you will find more impressive royal residences hiding and tucked away... I'm always so intrigued by the park and wish I had more time to explore...

Find out more about visiting Windsor Castle and buy tickets online here.  Tickets cost £20.50 for an adult £12 for a child. No the money does not go to the Royal Family. All money goes to the upkeep of the Royal Collection and the Official Residences of The Queen and back into the visitor experience.

Have you visited Windsor? What were your thoughts?

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