So you’ve decided to visit Chirk Castle! Excellent choice. This stunning medieval castle is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Wales, and for good reason. With its imposing towers and turrets, beautiful gardens and vast estate, there’s plenty to see and do. Not sure how to plan your perfect day out? Don’t worry, I’m here to help. Read on for tips on what to see and do at Chirk Castle, plus some recommended nearby attractions!
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In This Post
A Brief History Of Chirk Castle:
Built-in the late 13th century by Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Chirk Castle was one of many fortresses built during Edward I’s reign to subdue the Welsh. Situated close to the border of England, high upon a rocky outcrop just above where the Dee and Ceiriog rivers meet, this castle was designed to make a statement!
During this medieval period, the castle rotated between glory and disgrace, changing hands many times. Infighting and ambition caused chaos for hundreds of years with local tenants caught in the crossfire. During this time five of its owners were executed for treason and much of their respective estates were seized by the crown.
In 1595 Chirk was sold to Sir Thomas Myddelton I, the younger son of the then-governor of Denbigh Castle. In the years that followed, the Myddelton family turned this medieval fortress into a grand family home that occupied the castle for more than 400 years. During the war years the castle and grounds had been neglected and over the years that followed repair costs had begun to spiral. In 1978 Guy Myddelton handed the castle over to the state and large-scale restoration was paid for by the National Land Fund. Then in 2004 the castle and its remaining 200 hectares were handed over to the National Trust.
Today, Chirk Castle is open to the public and remains a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, including the gardens and parkland, or take a tour of the interior rooms to learn more about its history.
How To Get To Chirk Castle:
Address: Chirk, Wrexham, LL14 5AF
On foot: There are permitted footpaths from Chirk village year-round and from Offa’s Dyke Path (April to October only). Entrance and exit drives provide walking access, both are a similar distance, approx 1½ miles to the Home Farm ticket office.
Canal: Chirk Castle is situated close to the Llangollen Canal, near Chirk Aqueduct. Limited mooring is available near Chirk Tunnel, and from there walk towards Chirk village. It is approx 1 mile to the estate gates and 2 ½ miles in total to the ticket office and castle entrance.
By train: Chirk Station is on the Shrewsbury to Chester line. From Chirk Train Station it is ¼ mile to the gates of the estate and 1½ miles in total to the castle. See directions on foot for more details. For up-to-date train times check The Trainline.
By road: Chirk Castle is 7 miles south of Wrexham, 8 miles north of Oswestry and 5 miles from Llangollen. It is signposted from the A5 and A483. From the A5 proceed 1 mile to Chirk village, the entrance to the estate is 2 miles west of Chirk village and is signposted. Please note: When you arrive by car at the white iron Davies gates please continue to your right. The entrance to the estate is 1.4 miles further on.
Parking: The free car park is at Home Farm. Please enter via the ticket office, the entrance to the castle is 200 yards (via a steep hill).
By bus: The Arriva 2/A bus route from Wrexham to Oswestry will drop off at Chirk Village near the train station.
Shuttle bus: There is a shuttle bus which can take visitors from the carpark up the steep hill to the castle entrance, however as this is run by volunteers this service may not always be running. If this service is needed then please call ahead to confirm availability. For more details on access around the site please read the Chirk Castle Access Statement.
Things To See & Do At Chirk Castle:
1. Step inside the castle:
The entrance to the castle can be reached by walking 200m up a steep hill from the ticket office near the carpark. The pathway takes you up through a wooded area towards the back of the castle where it circles the castle until you reach the castle entrance. As you reach the top of the hill you will also be treated to stunning views across the wider estate. A 17th-century stone bridge and archway lead you into a lovely courtyard, the entrance to its rooms is on the right-hand side.
The North Range: One of the first rooms you will encounter in Chirk Castle is the Cromwell Hall located in the North Range. This area of the castle was built in the early 17th century by Sir Thomas Myddelton I, the first owner who turned the castle from a fortress into a home. Originally the hall was a servant’s hall, then a grand entrance hall, today this gothic hall gets its name from the Civil War armour and muskets that line its walls.
The State Rooms: As you walk from Cromwell Hall to the grand staircase leading up to the staterooms you will see two very different designs. Unlike the Neo-Gothic design of Cromwell Hall, the staterooms have a more Neo-Classic design. This changing design can be quite confusing to the eye making you believe that Cromwell Hall is much older than the rest of the castle, when in fact its design is more recent.
The State Rooms were created with a Neo-classic design in the 1770s but later gothicised in the 1840’s only to be returned to their classical elegance in the 1950s. Some of my favourite rooms include the State Dining Room, the Saloon, the Drawing Room and the Long Gallery.
The West Range: This part of the castle is the only medieval part of the castle to survive. The Adam Tower was built for defence with five-meter thick walls, highly effective against battering rams! Inside the tower are numerous rooms which provided living quarters for senior staff, the higher the rank the higher up the tower you lived. Today these rooms are set up as they would have looked in the 14th century as well as some displays showcasing life in medieval times.
Located on the ground floor you’ll find the dungeon and weapons store, unfortunately, this area of the castle has been closed on both of my visits to the castle.
2. Admire the landscaped gardens:
Covering 2.2 hectares, the gardens at Chirk offer a tranquil place to relax or chill out with a good book. These formal gardens are made up of immaculate lawns, ornate topiary trees, artistic statues, a beautiful rose garden and the unusual Hawk House.
The first formal garden at Chirk was designed and laid out by Sir Thomas Myddelton II in 1653 and was inspired by contemporary French design. It’s thought this design was a political choice as Sir Thomas was allied to King Charles II who was exiled to France at the time.
Later in 1764, Richard Myddelton commissioned landscape architect William Emes to undertake a huge remodelling of the gardens. Along with new fences, walls and thousands of trees, a new lawn and pathway leading up to the castle were installed.
During the 19th century, topiary hedges, herbaceous borders and colourful planting schemes were added, all of which can still be seen today. One of my favourite aspects of the garden is its Hawk House on the Lower Lawn, built in the 1850s this thatched house was built to house its falcons.
3. Explore the wider estate:
If you’re up for a longer walk then exploring some of the 195 hectares of woodland, farmland and deer park is a must. The National Trust has even opened up an all-weather trail through the woodland and also offers monthly guided walks taking in some of the more interesting parts of the estate.
Highlights include part of Offa’s Dyke, an 8th-century earthwork marking the border between the ancient kingdoms of Mercia and Powys, as well as the exuberant Baroque gates commissioned in 1712.
Chirk Castle Entrance Costs:
The site is free for those with a National Trust membership. Membership gives members free access to over 500 sites throughout the UK and only costs individuals £6 and couples £10 a month. You can even buy a family pass with either 1 or 2 adults for an extra 50p with each adult able to include 5 children free.
If you don’t have a National Trust membership then the entrance to Chirk Castle & Gardens will cost adults £14, children £7, family £35.
Facilities At Chirk Castle:
Cafe: The main cafe at Chirk Castle is located in the courtyard and is open 10 am-5 pm and serves a variety of drinks, cakes, light meals and sandwiches. There is also a seasonal takeaway kiosk and ice cream over at Home Farm available on busier days.
Shop: A National Trust shop is located at Home Farm near the ticket office. Here you will find a selection of garden and homeware, local produce and a variety of souvenirs.
Toilets: Toilets are available in the Castle Courtyard and at Home Farm.
Dogs: Dogs are welcome on the estate on a lead. Assistance dogs only in the formal gardens, Pleasure Ground Wood and Kitchen Garden. Dog waste bins are available in the car park and on the woodland walk.
Other Places To Visit Nearby:
Erddig House – National Trust’s Erddig House is a country house that sits on 1,200 acres of beautiful parkland. The original house dates back to the 1680s and was extensively remodelled in the early 18th century. Today, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the house and gardens, as well as an array of activities such as hiking, biking, and horse riding. The National Trust has done an incredible job of preserving this historic site, and it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Llangollen – Nestled in the heart of the Welsh countryside, Llangollen is a charming town that is well worth a visit. One of the highlights of the town is the Llangollen Railway, a heritage steam railway that offers scenic rides through the picturesque Dee Valley. Another must-see attraction is the Horseshoe Falls, which tumbles over 70 feet into the river below. For a unique way to explore the area, take a horse-drawn canal boat tour along the historic Llangollen Canal. With its gorgeous setting and wealth of things to see and do, Llangollen is sure to delight visitors of all ages.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the most impressive feats of engineering in the United Kingdom. The aqueduct carries water for over 13 miles from the River Dee in Wales to the city of Liverpool in England. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was completed in 1805 and is now a World Heritage Site. The aqueduct is an amazing feat of engineering and it is an awe-inspiring sight, defo a must-see if in the area!
All in all, a visit to Chirk Castle is an absolute must if you’re looking to explore the beauty of North Wales and its history. The medieval architecture and stunning landscape make it look like something out of a fairytale and will be sure to leave you feeling relaxed and content with the day. With plenty on offer, Chirk Castle is the perfect outing for families looking to spend quality time together or couples who want to enjoy a romantic trip back in time. So if you’re ever in North Wales, do yourself a favour and make sure Chirk Castle is your next stop!
- Erddig House, a unique country house in North Wales
- Portmeirion, a little bit of Italy in North Wales
- 10 Wonderful things to do in Aberystwyth
- 8 Incredible castles in North Wales
- 15 Fabulous places to visit in North Wales
Thanks so much for stopping by, I appreciate every one of you who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content coming in the next few weeks so make sure you pop back to catch up!