Last year I treated us to English Heritage membership. In fact I’ve just renewed. To be fair it was a no brainer. Membership for two adults, with L free, is £31 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers. So it was next to no money. L loves castles, English Heritage have a lot. It’s free days out for a year.
I’m going to try to write about all the properties we visit using our membership. What I liked, didn’t like, share some pictures. We more than made our money back on the membership last year, so I am very happy it is good value for money.
We visited Chesters Roman Fort & Museum when we were staying with Verdant Leisure at their Heather View Park in County Durham. We had been to nearby Prudhoe Castle in the morning and then took a lovely drive whilst L napped before visiting the fort.
The Fort has fabulous facilities. Chesters Tearoom’s has a large inside seating area and even more seats outside. You can get sandwiches, salads, drinks, ice creams and cake!
There is a very nice gift shop, with plenty of lovely gifts for all ages, you can get ice cream there as well, which may or may not have been used as bribery to get our very hot child to leave!
There are nice clean toilets, with baby change facilities.
Access around the site was pretty good. There are ramps into the museum and a path down to the main fort area, but it is an open field, with a fort so you can’t access everything if you have a pushchair or wheelchair. A lightweight pushchair would be great for most of the site though.
The car park is large and the £3 charge is refundable upon entry.
The fort is huge!
There are lots of different sections, each of which has been fenced off and made into its own area. You can access each section via gates, but I liked how they had been kept seperate.
It made it easier for us to tell where we had and hadn’t explored and it also helped me get a better feel for the site. It was clear when I was in the stable area, the shrine, or the commandant’s house.
L loved getting in and exploring. He enjoyed being able to get in, around and over everything. The whole area is just a giant adventure playground.
We got to explain bits to him, he was fascinated by the idea of horses and soldiers. It was nice, that even at his young age, he was genuinely interested in his surroundings and hopefully he’ll remember just that feeling of excitement he had as he explored.
There are lots of information boards dotted about bring the ruins to life and explaining the history of the site. It is truly amazing.
As Chesters Fort was built along Hadrian’s Wall, of course there are sections of the famous wall to be seen. The Bridge Abutment down by the river you can see the smaller bridge that was made purely to carry the Wall, unbroken, across the river.
That in itself I found quite fascinating.
Further into the site there is an area of unearthed wall to be seen. Which on it’s own, if we’re honest, would be quite boring. It’s a wall. A rather wide and straight section of wall. It’s the history that makes it interesting and the fort that makes the visit so much fun.
I think that’s why as a child visiting Hadrian’s Wall with my parents I was a bit nonplussed. We visited smaller sections of the wall, and I was just looking at a wall, not overly different t the dry stone walls you can see anywhere, accept I was expected to be excited.
Down by the river you’ll find the bath houses which are great to explore. You’ll also find plenty of shade and a nice spot to sit and relax.
People were paddling in the river and relaxing in the shade. L and I even dipped our toes in whilst we were waiting for Daddy to come back with drinks and ice creams.
The other side of the river you can see the footings of two Roman bridge crossings that you can visit separately if you wish. I personally was more than happy viewing it from the Fort side, especially as they have built a nice little viewing platform and provided a good information board directly opposite.
A small bridge for Hadrian’s Wall and a larger bridge that was a military crossing to serve the fort and the wall.
The Museum of Roman Finds is literally packed from floor to ceiling, display cabinet after display cabinet with amazing Roman artifacts.
I defy anyone to take it all in on one visit. I cannot express to you just how much is in there.
L was getting tired by the time we stopped to look at the museum so he and wandered off and investigated the bits that interested him, whilst husb actually read a bit and had a more comprehensive look around.
L loved finding different animal pictures on the stonework and alters and was quite intrigued by the jewellery. He also liked getting to sit on our shoulders to see some of the works that were high on the wall, he got a better view than us!
Opening Times & Prices
|WITHOUT GIFT AID||WITH GIFT AID|
|Child (5-15 yrs)||£4.20||£4.70|
For full details of times and prices please visit the English Heritage Website, these are only a snapshot.
There is so much to see and do at Chesters Roman Fort English Heritage could literally double the entrance price and it would still be good value for money.
I would say we spent a good three hours there and could have spent longer but L had got a bit too hot.
We went on a very hot and sunny day, it was glorious. Though there was little shade, which is worth thinking of if it is a hot day. Make sure you bring plenty to drink as it’s a fair walk from one end of the site to the other if you need refreshments. Equally it could be a bit bleak on a wet day. I would never let any of that stop me though, you just need to be prepared.
There is such a mix of things to see. The crossing at the river. Parts of Hadrian’s Wall. So many areas of uncovered fort with loads of information. The museum. Gift shop. This is one of the best properties I have been to and of all the parts of Hadrian’s Wall I have seen over the years definitely the best spot to get to see it.