Castle Coch and the Taff Trail

Are you faced with the dilemma of what to do on a summers day in Cardiff? Do you ever think – as the weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, I feel like going on an adventure to a fairy-tale castle?
Well, although this may sound like wishful thinking or the beginning of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, just outside Cardiff City centre lies a castle that looks as if it has been plucked out of a Disney fairy-tale and is easily assessable by bus or bike.

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On a sunny day in Cardiff, I like get on my bike and go for a ride along the Taff trail. The Taff trail is a route between the Southern Cardiff Waterfront, Cardiff Bay to the Northern Market Town of Beacon. Throughout the trail there are many ‘green fingers’ where the trail appears to bring the countryside into the town. In such an area, only 6 miles along the trail (it is over 55 miles in length) lies Castle Coch.

The trail is mostly flat and an easy ride for everyone, until you get to the castle. Fools (myself included) have tried to cycle the hill to the castle, but it is a very steep incline and not for the faint hearted. It is probably quicker to just get off your bike and push it the last 200 meters up the hill.

The first time I got to the top and saw the castle, I gasped at its beauty (in-between pants from walking up the hill!). When you get to the top, there is a grassy area, with great views, where I sat and enjoyed a much deserved picnic.

The castle, which translates to the Red Castle, is named after the rough rubble sandstone in which it was built. The history of the castle is intriguing; the castle was probably founded by a Welsh lord in c1240-65 but although its foundations may be ancient, the castle that lies on top certainly is not.

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Built by Victorian ‘eccentric genius’ William Burges, he let his imagination run wild when he was building the castle for the the 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart. He was inspired by the Romantic view of the middle ages and was influenced by gothic trends of the time.

This is reflected in the interior of the castle which, is in one word, breathtaking – the furniture is opulent, the wallpaper handmade and the ceilings wouldn’t look out of place in the Notre Dame.

Although it is free to visit the outside and walk round the grounds, there is a small entrance fee to get into the castle itself (adults: £6, children: £4.20) but you definitely get your admission’s worth. It is open all year round, 10am to 4pm most days with extended opening hours in the summer.

A visit to Castle Coch is lovely way to spend a summers day; you get to see a bit of Wales, get some exercise and learn some Welsh history.

I know what I will be doing next time the sun visits Cardiff!

Castle Coch is located Tongwynlais, Cardiff CF15 7JS. All details were correct as of Feb 2016.

By Elouise Hobbs