Do you love to have family days out? We do too. The trouble is, they can work out expensive. By the time you have calculated your travel cost, petrol, entrance fees and food, you can be looking at way over £100.
As part of our money saving efforts, we always try to cut these costs as much as possible. My favourite way is to always take our own food and drinks.
This year we have also decided to save money by making the most of what is local to us. Our first attempt at this was our trip to Birmingham which didn’t quite go to plan! We didn’t take our own food on the Birmingham trip as we had decided to have a meal somewhere as part of the day out Please note, some links within this post are affiliate links. If you were to purchase through the links I may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price for you.
For our next local trip we decided to visit Ashby Castle which is an English Heritage property. We were so busy playing with Instagram’s Boomerang that we forgot to take any normal photos apart from the one at the top of this post. There are more images on the English Heritage website. This link will take you directly to the information on the castle.
Ashby Castle is located in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire and is a property owned by English Heritage. Not much of the castle remains but there is a tower which you can climb and an underground tunnel which you can follow.
Looking on the website, it informed us that there was limited parking at the castle and advised parking in the nearby town of Ashby de la Zouch. We took their advice, even though the parking was free at the Castle. We were able to find a long stay car park within walking distance of both the town and the castle and for the reasonable price of £4.00 for the day.
Ashby is a market town with a nice selection of shops and cafes. We spent some time looking around and then made our way to the castle.
The entrance fee was £16.20. This included a voluntary Gift Aid donation and without this the price would be £14.60.
Free Entrance to English Heritage Members
We are not currently English Heritage members but are considering it as I really want to visit Stonehenge. For us to visit as a family we could purchase a family ticket which covers two adults and up to 3 children costing £42.90. However, an annual pass for a family consisting of 2 adults and up to 12 children is only £96 AND you can also choose to pay monthly by direct debit for £8 per month. Membership (affiliate link) gives you unlimited access and free parking.
Anyone considering membership can get an additional 15% by using code EH2017. This code is valid until 30 June 2017.
The weather wasn’t brilliant on the day we visited. On a nice, sunny day it would be the perfect place to take a picnic and spend time in the grounds. It was a bit cold for us, so we got straight in to exploring.
We were offered a free audio tour each, which we were informed had been recorded in the style of ‘Horrible Histories’. We started off following the trail and listening to the recordings but found it went on a bit,. Eventually we turned the audio players off and just made our own way around.
There are plenty of information boards located strategically to explain exactly what you are looking at.
The anticipation finally got the better of us and we headed for the underground passageway. The entryway was quite large but led down some steps into darkness. My youngest son refused to go first and the eldest told him he was being silly and marched forward. He began going down the steps but halfway down he hesitated! Just as he was going to look back to make sure we were following him, his Dad made a ghostly sound which echoed around the space and he came flying back out to find us all laughing. In the end I had to go first.
The steps first led into a rectangular space which had originally had big open fires used for roasting meat. There was a narrow exit which led out of this room , underground, to near the tower. It was lit but it was a bit spine chilling walking along the passageway.
Climbing the Tower
Soon we were back out into the fresh air and it was time to tackle the tower. Only the remains of the tower stand today but the central stairway is intact. It has 98 stone steps in the spiral staircase and I only had to stop once, about halfway up to catch my breath. My eldest is not too good with heights but he came up too. He is okay if he is looking at the horizon but is not good looking down at the ground.
As I began to walk down, my legs seemed to seize. The lower thigh muscles, in both my legs felt as though I had cramp and it was extremely painful walking back down. Typically, it was only me that was affected and even the next day I was in some pain when trying to walk down stairs!
The only thing left was to run the gauntlet of the gift shop on the way out and it was back to the car.
We had a great, cheap day out and also visited somewhere local that we had never been before. I shall be now looking at all the other English Heritage properties in our local vicinity so we can make the most of our membership when we get it.