It’s not possible to visit any place in Europe without stumbling across a castle or two, and Wales is no exception. In Pembrokeshire, there is a lovely medieval castle, Picton Castle, which has been standing since the 13th century and was still inhabited by the descendants of Sir John Wogan (styled Lord of Picton), the Phillips family.
Due to the large overhead expenses and the cost of taxes associated with maintaining a stately home and its large grounds, the ownership and operations of the estate was relinquished by the Phillips family, and is currently run by the Picton Castle Trust. This is a charitable organisation which aims to preserve the castle and gardens for the public benefit.
The gardens of Picton are spread over 40 acres of land and are considered one of the most beautiful in Wales with an extensive collection of plants. It is no wonder that the Royal Horticultural Society has selected Picton Castle as a RHS Partner Garden. Our family is particularly fond of visiting Picton Castle, as The Husband’s dad is a volunteer gardener!
We especially like the children’s garden, which is a myriad of places to explore! Most stately homes and castles that we have visited are such serious places – it’s fun to have a castle that welcomes children and encourages them in their exploration.
The Adventure boardwalk takes you on a twisty turny adventure through the gardens, over some muddy and boggy grounds where weird and wonderful plants grow.
We also liked the garden maze of hedgerows, where J and Little E ran about shrieking with laughter, trying to race each other to the centre of the maze.
It is real fun, letting the children climb up on beautiful trees and roll around on the soft grass on the lawn!
The woodland walking trails are broad and well maintained, most of them are great for wheelchairs and pushchairs, and perfect for little feet to run over…but tread quietly and a whole new world can also open up.
We found birds’ nests hidden in the hedges, with fledgling chicks inside, hollow logs filled with mushrooms and ladybirds ambling quietly over the rosebushes.
There is also a wonderful walled garden filled with sparkling fountains, sweet-smelling herbs and bright flowers. J liked the walled garden so much, that he lay down on the grass and had a short snooze in the shade of a tree, with the rose-scented breeze blowing over him.
The gardeners also take great pains to label each plant with both their common name and their scientific name, so that you know what you’re looking at. In fact, you’ll find gardeners aplenty wandering around the estate and tending to the plants, and they are all very friendly and knowledgeable, so feel free to ask them questions! You never know, you might run into my Dad-in-law there!
It is worth bringing a packed picnic lunch, as there are many picnic tables (some whimsically carved to look like giant mushrooms) and benches around, and some very soft turf that is great for laying down a picnic blanket.
However, if you can’t be bothered to lug a cooler bag around with you, there is a very nice little restaurant on the grounds that serves both hearty hot meals, fresh salads and light snacks all made onsite – as well as a delicious selection of homebaked cakes and scones!
Just the perfect place for a spot of tea.
Picton Castle is signposted 3 miles east of Haverforswest and 2 miles south off the A40, at The Rhos, Haverfordwest, SA62 4AS, Wales. (Tel: 01437751346)