From science museums to children’s museums and transport museums, the world is a rich place when it comes to choosing museums to visit. But which ones are suitable for families travelling with kids, young and old. In a bid to find some more for our own family to visit in the future, I’ve asked my fellow bloggers to help me out and give me their recommendations on the best museums to visit with kids in the world.
Last year, as many of you know, we embarked on our biggest trip to date with BattleKid. It was a two-week USA road trip taking in the stunning Yellowstone National Park, smoky Missoula in Montana and the hip and vibrant city of Portland. Missoula is a place not many people will have heard of, us included before our trip, but is definitely worth a visit. And today I’m going to share with you 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow, should you be visiting yourself with a toddler or young kids. Continue reading “5 Things to Do in Missoula with a Toddler in Tow”
So, you’ve got a train-mad little boy, a nice sunny day in South Wales and nothing planned of a Saturday morning. What do you do? You visit the Brecon Mountain Railway of course.
The Brecon Mountain Railway is situated just a few minutes from Merthyr Tydfil and is a railway with a steam engine to thrill the hearts of any train fan. It is also located just 15 minutes from our South Wales home and was somewhere we had been meaning to visit but hadn’t until last year.
Running from Pant to Torpantau, the Brecon Mountain railway follows part of the original route of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway which closed in 1964. It takes you into the Brecon Beacons, through Pontsticill and along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir before climbing up to Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons.
On the day we visited the Brecon Mountain Railway, we drove to the Pant Station, parked up and bought our tickets in the office before making our way to the platform. We passed the locomotive running shed and workshop on the way to the platform and the smell was lovely. Grease, oil and engine smells. There is also a model railway as you approached the platform which BattleKid loved.
We waited patiently for our train, boarded and handed the conductor our tickets. The train left Pant Station and started its journey through the stunning Brecon Beacons towards Torpantau. We saw the peaks of Pen-y-Fan and the Pontsticill Reservoir.
Although it had been sunny when we left Pant, the clouds got thicker as we ascended towards Torpantau. We alighted the steam train and a certain little boy wasn’t too sure about the steam coming from the engine.
The engine spends a few minutes changing around before everyone gets back on for the journey back to Pontsticill. There, you have 25 or 30 minutes to enjoy the views, have a refreshment in the small café or spend some at the playground, as we did. You can even spend longer there if you want to, and get a different train back. We chose not to.
Back at Pant Station, we visited the traditional sweet shop and bought some rhubarb and custards for BattleDad, his favourites, before heading home. Although we had only been at the Brecon Mountain Railway for less than 2 hours, it was a fun filled 2 hours. BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his ride on the steam engine and his time at the playground.
Things to note if visiting the Brecon Mountain Railway
- There are 3 or 4 train journeys a day, depending on the time of year. There were three the day we visited.
- Adult tickets cost £14, children cost £7 (up to 15 years of age), and seniors cost £12.50 return. Under 3’s are free.
- There is ample parking at the Pant Station and it is free.
- The Brecon Mountain Railway is mostly wheelchair and buggy friendly, although wheelchairs are limited to manual ones and cannot leave the train at Torpantau Station.
- There are toilets at both Pant and Pontsticill Station and baby changing facilities.
- There is a tea room at both Pant and Pontsticill Stations.
- There is a gift shop at Pant, while the Steam Museum (which is free) is located at Pontsticill Station.
- A children’s playground is located at Pontsticill Station, which we can highly recommend for young children.
- The Brecon Mountain Railway also holds special days throughout the year such as for Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day. They also hold Santa Special Trains throughout the month of December.
- Trains run non-stop to Torpantau and return to Pontsticill for 25 or 30 minutes. Passengers are allowed to stay longer at Pontsticill and get a different train back to Pant station.
- For timetables and up-to-date news, it is best to check the Brecon Mountain Railway website.
We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours on the Brecon Mountain Railway and would highly recommend it for families as a day out in South Wales. It would particularly appeal to Thomas fans and fans of trains in general.
*I was not asked to write this review.
After their first to Tretower Castle near Crickhowell while I was away last year, as a family, we returned for another adventure of dragon hunting at Tretower Castle, the scene where it all began.
Tretower Castle is a Grade I listed ruined castle in the village of Tretower, approximately one and a half miles from Crickhowell in Powys. It is a Cadw site and was home to influential families such as the Vaughans and the Picards. Over 900 years old, it was established as a working farm in the 18th century. Today you can see what life would have been like when the Vaughans were part of high society in the late 15th century as many rooms have been recreated to that period.
BattleDad and BattleKid started the dragon hunting adventures on their first visit and when we returned a little over a month later we were pleasantly surprised to see the castle had a dragon hunt in place. A great addition for the school holidays and helped make our dragon hunting at Tretower Castle a little bit easier.
We were given a set of clues to find dragons hidden throughout the castle and grounds, and if we were successful, there was a certificate to collect upon completion. We started by walking through the gardens into the ground floor of the castle, and checking the clues on our sheet for the locations of the dragons.
Once we had located the dragons on the ground floor we moved upstairs to the bedrooms. There was one room BattleKid loved. It was a long hall-type room and he had great fun running from one end to the other. Apparently he had done it on his previous visit too.
From the house we moved outside to the gardens which are lovely. There were still lots of flowers in blossom and some of the trees even had fruit on them. BattleKid and I enjoyed the gardens for a while and of course this mama took some pictures of the boy while we waited for BattleDad. We then started to make our way over to the round tower, which sits away from the main castle buildings.
On our way we enjoyed some roly-polys. By the time we reached the round tower we had found most of the dragon clues for the dragon hunting at Tretower Castle, but were yet to find our own dragon’s hiding place. We searched inside the tower and then the nooks and crannies outside. At last we found him, hidden in a wall just outside the round tower. BattleKid was delighted and gave him a big hug.
Roly-polys were resumed on our way back to the house with BattleKid and I having lots of fun. He was also fascinated by the Jinny Joes (dandelions) and I taught him how to blow the florets off.
When we reached the main house we found our final dragon clue in one of the rooms or cellars off the court yard and then handed in our complete dragon hunt sheet at the office whereupon BattleKid was presented with his official dragon hunting certificate and stickers. He was thrilled. Not only did we find our own dragon but he got a certificate for completing the dragon hunt at Tretower Castle itself.
The dragon hunt was an addition to many Cadw sites last year during the summer holidays and I’d like to think it returns this year. It’s a great way to get kids exploring historic sites and makes them more fun. We certainly enjoyed the dragon hunting at Tretower Castle. BattleDad also lays claim to the introduction of the dragon hunt after mentioning to the staff at Tretower Castle on their first visit that they were there to hunt the castle dragon. Whether this is true or not, he’s claiming it for his own! And either way we continue our own dragon hunting at each castle we visit as you will read in subsequent posts in this series.
Things to note if you go dragon hunting at Tretower Castle:
- Tretower Castle is a Cadw site as mentioned and is open every day from 10am to 5pm from the 1st April to the 31st October. Between 1st November 2017 and 31st March 2018, the castle is open between 10am and 4pm from Thursday to Saturday but is closed between Sundays and Wednesday *.
- Last admissions is 30 minutes before closing and costs £6.50 per adult, with children, senior citizens and concession tickets costing £4.30. Children under 5 years of age enter free. As Cadw members our admission was included in our annual pass.
- There are toilets on site, including one for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.
- There are picnic benches available in the gardens but there is no coffee shop. There are also no baby changing facilities at Tretower Castle.
- The courtyard is mainly accessible to buggies and wheelchairs as are a few parts of the ground level of the castle, although you may find the cobbled entrance unsuitable. The upper level and round tower are not accessible.
- There is a car park across the road from the castle, and roadside parking for approximately 30 cars and is free.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time dragon hunting at Tretower Castle and can recommend it as a place to visit for a few hours with your children if you are in the Crickhowell or Abergavenny area. It takes approximately 20 minutes to drive to Tretower Castle from Abergavenny. We combined it with breakfast in our favourite café in Abergavenny. If you’d like a sneak peek at Tretower Castle, we filmed a little vlog of our dragon hunting adventure which is below.
Have you taken your children dragon hunting yet?
Thanks for reading,
*Prices and visiting times correct at the time of writing this post.