Travel Diaries: Following ancient footsteps up to spectacular views at Kenilworth Castle

When the sky is a near-cloudless blue, we feel the urge to climb and see rolling green fields stretching out for miles. It does not always have to be a mountain … an ancient tower will do just fine.

Kenilworth has undertaken a huge renovation since our last visit a few years before. A vast tower that we once stood below and peered up at, as the floors and staircases had centuries ago collapsed … is again fully climbable once more.

You can now gaze out of the deep arching windows in the even thicker walls, at the wide rural landscape of Warwickshire. I had my baby daughter in her carrier and she was fascinated by the cold stone walls, reaching out with her tiny fingers to touch them.

The moss and lichen in the windowsills looked like a miniature version of the hills beyond.

A second set of stairs, this time wooden and so beautifully weathered that it felt like they had long been part of the castle, took us upwards again for a view so clear the you can almost rebuild the panoramic before you with your imagination. The vast walls of local red sandstone represent Sir Robert Dudley’s now-permanent love letter to Elizabeth I, who stayed here for nineteen days of festivities in 1575.

The scene below is a family favourite … my children’s ancestors grew up in one of the cottages to the right of the picture and many of our family still live in Kenilworth today. The castle featured heavily in my mother-in-law’s childhood here, from summer events to candlelit carols at Christmas.

We explored to the grassy slopes beyond. This is the perfect place for our two autistic sons, usually completely reliant on reigns, to have freedom to roam – the castle outer walls keep them safe from wandering too far.

The Gatehouse was all prepared for Halloween … they had done such a fantastic job – one of our sons crept around every corner.

A family friend painted Kenilworth for my in-laws and my husband recalls the painting hanging on the dining room wall all through his childhood – and he was delighted to completely frame the castle in the photograph below, just as he remembers it.

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