About Picton Castle
Picton Castle is a lovely place to visit. It’s very family-friendly with lots of pleasant surprises to enjoy.
We visited on 07/11/2021. It was just 4 of us for this visit as Natalia was out for the day and entry to the gardens cost us £24. Under 5s are free so we didn’t have to pay for Florrie. Prices I feel are a bit steep, especially considering that we didn’t have to pay for Florrie and that cost only gave us entry to the gardens. If you want to go into the castle, it’s an extra £6 per adult and £4 per child.
Picton Castle is a medieval castle built in 1280, which was then turned into a stately home in the 18th century. It really is a beautiful building.
There are 60 acres of grounds to explore, including woodland gardens, a walled garden, and The Welsh Owl Garden and Zoo. The grounds are 80% wheelchair accessible and disabled toilets are also available.
The castle is also home to the Mansion of Mystery Escape Rooms which sounded amazing. There are 2 different escape rooms and they cost £54 for 2 people. This does also include entry to the gardens but not the castle tours.
When we arrived, we paid the £24 entry cost at the little ticket shack. The lady at the ticket booth was very friendly and gave the children some leftover activity bags from Halloween which contained some chocolate and activities like crosswords and colouring. She also gave them a little activity book for the Troll Trail.
Our first stop was food. We hadn’t taken any food with us so decided to try out the restaurant. It was about 11.30am when we arrived and we were informed that they wouldn’t be serving food until 12pm. So we ordered a coffee and some drinks for the kids while we waited.
The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating.
One thing that I was particularly impressed with was the number of gluten-free foods that were available. The meals available use local products and are freshly made to order.
I ordered a chicken dish which was chicken and peppers in a tomato and almond sauce and oh my days, it was divine! The dish comes with crusty bread, but they were more than happy to swap the bread to gluten-free bread. My meal was £7.95 which I think is very reasonable.
Craig had a brie, chorizo and chilli jam panini which he really enjoyed and the kids had little picnic bags with sandwiches, crisps, fruit and chocolate.
If you do visit Picton, eating at the restaurant is a must! One thing to note, you can’t visit the restaurant unless you pay to enter the gardens.
The Welsh Owl Garden & Zoo
The whole reason for us visiting Picton Castle was for the otters. Otters are Florrie’s absolute favourite animals, she’s completely obsessed with them but has never seen one in real life!
The castle garden is home to a mini zoo and is the only place in South Wales that I can find where you can see otters (unless you are lucky enough to spot them in the wild of course).
I was pleasantly surprised when we entered the little zoo. I was expecting a couple of owls but the first thing you come across is a creepy-crawly section that contained tarantulas, giant millipedes and other gross but fascinating creatures.
Obviously, with it being the Welsh Owl Garden there were plenty of owls to see and they were absolutely beautiful. There were a huge variety of species and plenty of other birds too, some were extremely weird-looking.
I got extremely excited when I walked into the zoo section as there were signs everywhere saying that the marmosets were free-roaming but on that day they were actually in their enclosure. Also on offer to see were lizards, snakes and tortoises.
Unfortunately, we didn’t end up seeing the otters as they were in their little hides for the whole day. The website stated that they feed the otters at 1pm. We were there at around that time but there was nothing. We checked back regularly throughout the day but they were nowhere to be seen.
Florrie left extremely upset and disappointed so if anyone knows where we can find otters, please let me know in the comments because we really want her to see some.
On our way around the gardens, we spotted a boardwalk. This was great fun and really long. I felt so wobbly on it, probably because I knew that if I fell off it I’d be up to my knees in mud. It was great though and the boardwalk took you through the trees and led up to a little playground.
Unfortunately, the playground wasn’t really suitable for Florrie’s age and was situated in a huge mud pit so the children weren’t able to play there.
Note for future visits: Take Wellies!
We also found a maze, but again, it was a mud pit so we didn’t go around it.
The Walled Garden
The walled garden is beautiful and very calming to walk around. There is a big pond with a fountain in the centre of the garden and the sound of the water was just bliss. There is also a fernery and an old gardener’s office to see which the girls were fascinated by.
The Troll Trail
From the walled garden, we headed to the Peach Woods, where the troll trail is located.
The troll trail is the story of the billy goats gruff and the aim of the trail is to find the clue boards hidden in the woods to discover the names of the goats.
It was lots of fun and the girls were so excited whenever we came across a clue board. I think we may have started the trail at the wrong point though as the first board that we came across was board number 3.
It was such a lovely little activity for them and I was in awe with the giant redwood trees dotted around the woods.
We then found another garden walk just behind the little zoo area.
If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen some photos from this part of the walk because we found the most stunning tree.
The leaves were bright red and the floor around it was just a sea of red. It was so picturesque.
One thing we noticed when walking around the gardens was a lack of signage. It was so easy to get lost and I think we probably missed a lot as there were so many paths and no way of knowing where they led.
Picton Castle & Gardens is a great family day out although quite overpriced in my opinion. I understand they have the animals to look after but when compared to other places that have small zoos it is, I feel, pretty steep; especially if Natalia had come with us and Florrie was 5 it would have cost us about £33 and that’s without entry to the castle.
The gardens were beautiful and we loved doing the boardwalk and troll trail. It is an extremely muddy place though so there was a lot that we didn’t get to do as we weren’t prepared for a sea of mud.
Also, I definitely feel like there needs to be an improvement with the play area. Again it was impossible to get near as it was so muddy and it wasn’t really suitable for Florrie. I think they need to think about the smaller children that visit and make it more accessible for them, put some flooring down (even if it’s just playground bark) and perhaps put some swings in too.
Overall, we really enjoyed our day out at Picton Castle & Gardens, but we don’t feel it is somewhere to rush back to.
For us, it is about an hour drive away and with the cost of entry, it’s not really worth another visit any time soon, especially when we have the likes of Margam Park right on our doorstep.
I think we might have felt differently had we actually seen the otters but as it stands, it will be a while before we return.
It’s definitely a nice place though. The staff were extremely friendly and the restaurant and toilets were lovely and clean.
Don’t count the days,
Make the days count.