As you might imagine, Clitheroe Castle stands at the heart of Clitheroe, high on Castle Hill and Meg and Eli both spotted it as soon as our car pulled into the town. Cue lots of excited shouts and squeals.
You can't park at the castle; there is street parking dotted around but as we were visiting on a Saturday we found it to be pretty busy. However, if you follow castle parking signs you can park in the long stay car park next to the train station; the castle is just a short 5 minute walk away and it costs about £2 for 4 hours which we found was plenty to explore the castle museum and to have a short walk around the town with a pitstop for coffee and cake.
You can reach the castle entrance either by climbing up the steep stone steps and making your way along the walls and down the other side (which offers stunning views over the surrounding countryside) or by walking around to the left which is the flatter route and therefore better for pushchairs etc.
We, obviously, had to have a race up the steps.
Entrance fees for the castle museum are £4 for adults, with children being free. We thought this was very reasonable, especially because the museum also offers free explorer backpacks for children which contain a magnifying glass, an explorer's hat and a clipboard with items for them to find and tick off.
Eli was excited about his pack, honestly.
There was also a special event on, which is running for the month of March, all about animals and Meg and Eli were invited to see how many cuddly animals they could spot hiding in the displays and exhibitions. This was a really great way of getting the kids involved and interested in the displays; myself and James commented that we've never seen them so keen to be at a museum before and both were asking questions about the different things they were seeing. At 5 and 3, we were quite impressed with this!
From the looks of the posters dotted around, the museum often has special family friendly events running; I think it's dragon related in the month of April and we have promised Meg and Eli a return visit!
The museum walks you through 350 million years of history from fossils right through to a fully equipped Victorian kitchen and also explores the heritage and geology of the surrounding area. There are plenty of little interactive elements to engage children such as musical instruments, dressing up, a colouring station and so on which we also enjoyed.
It isn't huge, but there is lots to see and overall it took us about an hour to get through all the exhibitions.
There is also an outdoor area which sits at the bottom of the castle walls and has been designed for more imaginative play. Meg and Eli enjoyed running around more than anything but they did have a go with some of the play equipment there.
We didn't try the cafe as we wanted to head into the town for a look but from our quick walk through it appeared equally child-friendly; there is a bookshelf with some children's books and toys dotted around to keep them entertained whilst they wait for the food which I thought was a good idea.
Overall we thought this was really great value for money, and has clearly been thought through in terms of being family friendly. Meg and Eli loved the explorer backpacks and we had to prise them off at the end. The staff were all helpful and friendly, for example, they offered to hang up our coats whilst we walked around despite there not being a designated cloakroom area when I commented on how warm it was inside.
We will definitely be returning in April for the next event and would recommend the castle museum to anyone in the area, especially those with younger children.