Castle House, Usk, Monmouthshire NP15 1SD
They say every Englishman's home is his castle. Well, what about the Welsh? We know of one Welshman for whom this old adage rings truer than most, for Tom Humphreys is the owner of Usk Castle in Monmouthshire. Built around 1120, this fantastically well-preserved Norman fortification overlooks the charming Mid-Wales market town, and beyond to the Black Mountains. It's a suitably atmospheric setting – the ancient ivy-clad walls, the weathered gargoyles, the imposing round tower – history hued into every stone.
But, far from the cold-hearted overlord presiding over his medieval serfdom, Squire Humphreys has graciously opened up the castle grounds for a handful of lucky campers.
Comprising four spacious, stripey pavilions (with additional space for around 10 or so tents), Castle Knights offers guests the chance to indulge their most feather-plumed medieval fantasies.
Campers have the run of the castle grounds and the ruins are free to explore. Unsurprisingly, kids will adore this place, with medieval fancy dress, archery, and bicycle jousting on offer. There's even a wooden watch tower for your knee-high noblemen to plot their next defence of the realm.
It's not all pitched battles and pillaging though. The setting is wonderfully peaceful. There's a magnificent woodcraft sculpture trail by local artist Adam Humphreys (Tom's son), and the views over undulating Monmouthshire hills are lovely. In short, the perfect setting for swaying lazily in the hammock.
Usk itself is steeped in history. One of the simple joys is strolling through this pretty market town – the Victorian clock tower in the floral Twyn Square, the cobbled pavements and 17th century houses of the parade, all presided over by the Norman castle, a pleasing anachronism. Tom is a mine of local history too and his encyclopedic knowledge of the castle and town's tempestuous past really brings this place to life.
The Owner SaysTake a step back in time at Usk Castle Knights – a medieval style encampment of pavilions reminiscent of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Five large and colourful jousting pavilions are sited only a stone's throw (or should we say Trebuchet's throw) from the picturesque ruins of the Usk Castle. The encampment is ideally located, it could be deep in the countryside but is really only a short walk from Usk town centre, which has great pub food, excellent shops for all essentials, a variety of food outlets, and a Farmers Market on 2 Saturdays each month. The area is renowned for its excellent restaurants. Usk is in real castle country with Skenfrith, Grosmont, White castle, Chepstow, Raglan and Abergavenny all in the vicinity. Children will love being Knights of the Round Table, playing in the castle, exploring the site of the battle of Pwll Melyn, with an exciting footpath through the surrounding 100 acres of woodland, and swimming in the river Usk with its Island playground just across the old railway bridge.
Really nice big tents with comfy beds and power sockets.Good kitchen, washing, and toilet facilities. Nice big firepit (bring a big grill if you want to bbq over it).
But two things really stood out. Firstly, the setting. Slightly underwhelming on first arrival (clean, tidy, well equipped but nothing spectacular) but when the evening came around and the castle closed to the public we took advantage of our private access and, having not previously experienced Usk Castle, we were in awe. After hours Usk castle was a beautiful and very tranquil space to have a beer and chat, play games, investigate the castle and it's inhabitance, take photos and generally relax.
Secondly, our host Tom was very welcoming and accommodating. With lots of advice on places (pubs) to visit in the town we had a wonderful evening in Usk, and when we opted to stay on site Tom provided us with everything we needed, but left us to our own devices. The level of trust was really refreshing, giving us full access to the castle and not feeling the need to police our boisterousness.
Thanks to Tom and everyone at Castle Knights, we had a lovely time!
We took a large group and booked out exclusive use of the site. Fantastic. Stunning setting, good facilities, your own castle to play in, and such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The owners made us feel very welcome, and the kids had a wonderful time, exploring and playing. The covered kitchen area was a real bonus, as was having the tents and beds ready and waiting - making everything that little bit easier, and therefore even more relaxing for adults. A perfect balance between not roughing it, and not being too polished, with bags of charm and character. Special.
The magic of true welsh hosts
We absolutely loved everything from the magical surroundings of the wonderful grounds and castle to the welcome we felt by our hosts the owners of Usk castle and founder and manager of castle knights camping and functions Tom. Would recommend this site without reserve it isn't a commercial site with a cheesy clubhouse and inflated. Priced shop it is a magical natural surrounding with amazing hosts regards will mollie and Jane xx
Fantastic surroundings, very welcoming and relaxed, great facilties. Good price too. Would definately go back!