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We were fortunate to bag a free National Trust family day pass – hopefully you saw me share the offer on my Facebook page! So, we decided to pair it with a trip on Tenterden Steam Train (with their kids go free offer) and make a day of it visiting Bodiam Castle.
What’s it like?
Despite its picturesque exterior, Bodiam Castle is more ruins than castle as the interior is largely just remains, alongside a tower that you’re still able to climb. It’s also not as large as other places, like Dover Castle, and with no rooms to view it doesn’t take long to explore.
Whilst there’s not a huge amount to see or do, it is a beautiful setting and a lovely place to have relaxing picnic. With it being just a short walk along a roadside pathway from Bodiam Train Station, it definitely goes well with a trip on the train!
As we visited in the summer holidays, they did have a few activities set up but these were definitely most suited to younger children and ours, and their cousins, weren’t really interested. There are some large grassy areas around the castle – we’d luckily brought a football so this kept the kids busy after lunch while we chilled and waited for our train back.
In all honesty, Bodiam Castle wouldn’t be somewhere I would pay to visit, nor is it a destination to fill a whole day out, as there’s very little to see and do. But if you have a National Trust Pass, and pair it with a trip on the steam train, it’s a scenic picnic spot for lunch. Check out my post on Kent and Sussex Railway for more info about the train.
What facilities are there?
There’s a lovely little cafe area on the way into the site with picnic tables and loos, and the views of the surrounding countryside are lovely. In this area, you can fill up water bottles, get your tickets for entering the castle and visit the gift shop which had some sweet garden plants and ornaments available too.
What age group is it suitable for?
Bodiam Castle can be appreciated by all ages, but there’s not a lot to keep the kids busy. It’s a shame as it’s a pretty site, but it’s another one that could do with a play area, or perhaps a nature trail.
It’s also important to mention that the tower steps are quite cobbled and steep, so you may want to avoid the tower with elderly visitors or very small children. There’s also only one way up and down the top area, and it’s very narrow, so you’ll need some patience to get back down on a busy day.
How much is it?
If you have a National Trust membership or, like us, managed to bag a free day pass over the summer then you can visit without spending a penny. If not a family ticket would set you back about £30, which I have to say I don’t think would be money well spent.
So, if you’ve got a pass, it could be worth a visit but if not I think other days out would present better value for money. It might also be good to look out for activity / event days so there’s more on offer to keep everyone entertained.
Money saving tips
With a National Trust membership you can visit all of their sites at no extra cost – which is definitely the best option if you like exploring. It’s around £120 a year for a family membership, or just over a tenner each month if you pay monthly, so you only need to use it a few times to make it worthwhile. For home educating families, you can get a year’s National Trust family membership for around £50 – which can be used term-time.
Look out for offers near the summer months though – this isn’t the first year that the National Trust have given out free passes, so keep your eyes peeled near the summer holidays if you fancy visiting one of their sites. Our favourite is definitely St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall!
Useful information for your visit…
Pets: Dogs welcome on a lead in the grounds around the castle
Parking: Yes, but you’ll need to pay if you’re not a National Trust Member
Facilities: Cafe, toilets, picnic areas, gift shop
Address: Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA
For up-to-date opening times and prices, please check their website.