Visiting the Majestically Beautiful Leeds Castle, Kent

When you live in a city like London, it is easy to become a little spoilt. With each blink of the eye, a new fusion restaurant dishes up an artistic sharing platter, another skyline bar lends shimmering panoramas of the city by night and a lesser known car park gets reincarnated as a cinema.

As much as I love our urban jungle with all its flaws and rewards, sometimes I yearn for the novelty of blossom-studded, open spaces, where my lungs can stretch liberally in the invigorating yet pollen-laden air and where I can amble to the rhythm of ducks wading in lakes.Leeds Castle gardens

That was why, on our wedding anniversary this year, Pumpkin and I once again opted against central London entertainment and travelled the short distance from London to Leeds Castle in Kent, which was little over half an hour away by car from our home.Beautiful Leeds Castle Kent

We were welcomed by swathes of June sunlight (England is almost impossibly perfect on those rare summer days) and a few other waddling visitors quacked harmoniously as if to reaffirm we were well and truly out of the city, despite the swan Leeds Castle Kent

As we commenced our walk, it was a challenge trying to avert our fixed gazes from the majestic castle ahead of us but we tried for a few moments to do so in order to capture the tiny touches that make the grounds of Leeds Castle so endearing.Leeds castle landscape scenery

We revelled in the rainbow array of summer flowers.

yellow purple flowers pink summer flowers England

And I enthused over this original twist on a plant pot. My polka dot wellies have been redundant since a rainy-day, outdoor Madonna concert a few years ago but I now see a new purpose for them.wellington boot flower potswellies flower pots

As my partially scuffed pumps met with the slippery silk of the fallen petals underfoot, I recalled that this supremely photogenic castle had been on my radar for wedding venues a few years ago but due to our numbers, we had to rule it out. If, however, you aren’t having a big fat Indian wedding like ours, how picture perfect does this look?!Leeds castle reflection wedding venue

We had not fully appreciated the magnitude of the castle grounds and soon realised it was an error not arriving earlier for our day out. (I was not blessed with the “morning person” genes and it is to Pumpkin’s perpetual frustration that my alarm bellows the snooze sound at least half a dozen times before I finally surface.)beautiful castles England Kent

The entrance ticket may sound a little steep at £24 pounds per adult but the great thing about it is that it remains valid for an entire year from purchase, allowing as many return visits as desired at no extra cost, meaning late-risers like myself do not miss out.Leeds castle Kent bridge

Activities at Leeds Castle

As seasoned Brits, cynical of the changing weather, we decided to hedge our bets safely and explore the outdoor maze whilst the climate was still dry and let me tell you, it was trickier than it might look but thankfully, once you have reached the epicentre, you need not navigate your way through it all again.wpid-20150603_131837-01.jpeg

Instead, an underground tunnel leads you to the exit and to say it took us by surprise is an understatement. We certainly did not expect to see these eerie stone statues carved into the wall.maze grotto statue Leeds castle

Nor did we anticipate seeing the light installations along the dimly lit walkgrotto lightingmaze exit Leeds castle

Hitting too many dead ends is never a good thing in a marriage, either metaphorically or here in the maze, literally so after our half an hour of childish fun, we redeemed ourselves with a short educational video exhibit on the history of Leeds Castle, which was projected onto the floor of a darkened space. beautiful English castles Kent

There were a few other activities going on, including boating on the lake, and there is always something to keep you entertained such as open air film screenings, a very reasonably priced afternoon tea, falconry displays and Christmas markets to name but a few. (You can find a list of updated Leeds Castle events here but for us, the food rumbles were starting to hum so we decided to re-fuel with lunch before seeing the inside of the castle grounds.boating on lake Leeds Castle

If you are visiting the castle for the first time, I would highly recommend using the audio guide tour. It is probably best to allow at least 45 minutes to see the interiors but it gave us a much better understanding about the history of Leeds Castle over the years.waterfall feature Leeds castle

Did you know, for example, that Henry VIII once used this as a residence for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon? And its political and historical significance is not restricted to centuries gone by with this very castle being the location for an initial meeting between international leaders in 1978 that eventually led to the Camp David Agreement as well one of the G8 summits.

The Inside Scoop

red four poster bed Leeds castle

A quintessentially English charm fills the high ceilinged rooms of this castle. After an entrance lined by narrow old casks, we caught a glimpse into the sumptuous four poster beds, grand drawing rooms and wrought iron doors that open up into chocolate-box courtyards.interior inside Leeds castleaudio tour rooms Leeds castlefurniture furnishing inside Leeds Castle Kentcastle courtyard

I pondered how it may have been to dine on this splendid table and longed to spend a lazy afternoon reading in the ornate library.dining room Leeds Castle library interior Leeds Castle

Dining at Leeds Castle

Quite often at similar attractions that I have visited in England, there are one or two token cafes, which serve their purpose well enough, sometimes charging predictable premiums for the tourist crowds but not necessarily serving food that is memorable in any way. We certainly did not arrive here with any gourmet expectations so we were impressed at their selection of dining options.

Castle cafe restaurant Ploughman's  board

We ate al fresco with a beautiful birds eye, waterside view of the castle and shared a hearty and delicious Ploughman’s board of cheese, sausage rolls, pork pies and a selection of salads. The food was fresh, traditional British fare and exceptionally good value for such huge portions. There was really no need to indulge in another course but dessert is rarely a question of need, especially during a special occasion!

days out Kent castle

The quirk factor of this creamy chocolate dessert put a smile on my face, served in a pot made of pastry with a dipping biscuit on the side and topped with a few marshmallow teasers. I am definitely going to try and emulate edible crockery in my own baking repertoire!lunch dessert Leeds Castle

The Leeds Castle website proclaims it to be “the loveliest castle in the world” and if you visit, you will understand why it certainly ranks up there with the loveliest of them. It is a dream location for a family day out, a romantic stroll with your loved one, a picnic with friends or even a moment of solitude for yourself.

Have you been to any castles that you would recommend visiting?


49 thoughts on “Visiting the Majestically Beautiful Leeds Castle, Kent

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit Leeds Castle but for some reason haven’t made it there yet – I think it might have been the high price tag that put me off! Having seen your pictures, and discovered that you can visit anytime for a year I’m determined to finally get there. Looks like a lovely day out! Oh, and wishing you a belated wonderful wedding anniversary lol!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:26 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind wishes Keri! Leeds Castle is absolutely stunning honestly, I never imagined I’d be wanting to return so soon but I already want to go back and take my parents, in laws and friends, especially while the weather is so nice so in that respect, I think the entry ticket probably will definitely pay off! It’s nice to get a breather from the big smoke now and then :mrgreen:

  2. I haven’t been here since I was little but I distinctly remember having lots of fun in the maze! I may have to make a return trip as it looks like there’s loads to see and do. Your pics of the castle and the reflection in the water are so pretty!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:29 pm

      Haha, fast forward the clock and here we were, having just as much fun in the maze Ayla :mrgreen: Being so near it, if the weather is ever looking lovely and sunny, it’d make for a really pretty and easy day out! So happy you liked the pics – it’s always easier when the sun is shining!

  3. I want to return to Leeds Castle with my husband who has never been, I love the view you had from the restaurant and I seem to recall getting lost in their maze, have you been in that?

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:32 pm

      Yep I certainly did Suze – there’s a little paragraph and photo of the maze in the post. The pic with the bench wasn’t actually the view from the restaurant – the restaurant view was of the castle itself but I’d taken so many castle pics by then that I decided just to enjoy the moment of lunch in the sun!

  4. This is such a wonderful idea for a day out. The grounds are just beautiful and it is a nice change from central London for sure. It looks like you had a lovely time 🙂

    Ash | Liakada

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:33 pm

      Aww thanks Ash! It really was such a lovely day out – we got lucky with the weather too but the castle is pretty magnificent regardless ☺

  5. I love love Leeds castle. Only done it once but certainly want to return. Fabulous pics. xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:34 pm

      Yay, so pleased to hear you love it too Zoe! It’s definitely somewhere I want to show other people – my mum’s already been asking when I’ll take her ☺

  6. …is that a sloth carved into the wall of the underground tunnel or am I desperately in need of sleep?! Either way, Leeds Castle looks absolutely beautiful – especially loving all the vibrant colours both inside and out, plus there seems to be so much going on! I will confess I have been there once before but that was to, uh, see Will Young perform on the grounds, so I didn’t get a chance to look around the castle itself. Must make a repeat visit soon! x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:40 pm

      Hahaha, this comment made me chuckle so much Emily! Nothing wrong with a Will Young concert 😁 Gorgeous venue for live music too I would think! And yes, you weren’t just sleep deprived – it’s certainly something carved into the underground tunnel and a sloth is a pretty likely guess! I really think you’d love a day out here if you returned – such gorgeous interiors, gardens and wildlife and great cakes or afternoon tea if you fancy it! I really enjoyed it! x

      1. Sounds BLISS! (Oh, and I’m still seeing a sloth :P) xx

  7. Leeds Castle looks beautiful (love your images) and I can’t believe I’ve never been as it’s about an hour and 20 from us. I love a good maze and glad you and your marriage emerged unscathed! We have Bodium Castle and Scotney Castle both less than half an hour from home so now I feel inspired to check out some castles this summer!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:47 pm

      So pleased you like the photos Suzanne ☺ I always take the many castles and stately homes we have here for granted and it was such a delightful way to spend a day at one! I’d love to visit the castles you’ve recommended too and also Arundel castle too – have you been to that one?

  8. Visiting this castle looks like a royal way to celebrate your anniversary! We love castles that are furnished so you can imagine how the people lived then. So many beautiful flowers there too! Unfortunately for us, it would require a 10-hour flight and then some to visit Leeds Castle (not a half-hour drive). Oh well, a good attraction to tuck away for the “to visit” list when London calls out to us again :-).

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 10:51 pm

      Haha yes, as beautiful a castle as it is, it’s perhaps slightly too long a journey for you guys! But it’s not far from London if you are ever back in the city ☺

  9. thats a hell of a place! much like my apartment. except bigger. and older. and a castle. did i mention bigger?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 11:01 pm

      Hahaha, you mean you DON’T have a dining table that seats like a billion people in your apartment Andrew?! 😁

      1. I had to get rid of it because I needed room for the jacuzzi

  10. I love Leeds Castle, I live quite close to it so grew up going regularly in the school holidays. I haven’t been for a few years now but really want to go back soon!

    C x | Lux Life

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 11:08 pm

      Oh really? How lovely that you’ve been so many times in the past! I imagine it’ll be lovely and nostalgic for you returning there. A friend of mine celebrated her end of high school ball there – such a lovely spot for it! I really liked my day out here ☺

  11. I love the UK’s castles! Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to have them all on our doorstep. Your photo of the goose and all those pennies is great. 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 17, 2015 — 11:12 pm

      Thanks Katie! I definitely forget all the lovely days out, historical landmarks and castles we have in England, which are so worthy of a visit! Leeds castle was so easy for a day trip that it gets me thinking about what other lovely days out I should look at doing! ☺

  12. Since our passports are still at the Home Office, we’re always on the lookout for more UK-based travel ideas so I’m definitely bookmarking this one! I absolutely love the photo of the castle with the reflection- makes it look rather majestic!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 8:46 pm

      Aaah thank you Connie! I highly recommend this for a day of UK travel and I’d be saying the same even if you did have your passports back in your possession! ☺ It’s such a beautiful castle and so near London too!

  13. Your photos are lovely Shikha. There really is nothing like an English summer day (maybe it’s their rarity that make them so special!) Mr A is not really a fan of old buildings but he did take me to Windsor Castle last year and that also has a nice mix of history and pretty grounds. Maybe I’ll be able to persuade him to take me here too, the maze might help!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 8:49 pm

      Haha, yes the maze was also a selling point for my hubby when we went Emily! You know, funnily enough, I’ve been to Windsor a few times but never actually gone into the castle grounds properly and have heard it’s gorgeous so Pumpkin and I were thinking of exploring that one next! Hope you manage to persuade Mr A to make a trip to Leeds Castle – it’s so pretty! ☺

  14. Such a lovely place, one of my favourite castle’s in England! Great photos!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 8:55 pm

      Thank you Becky! So pleased to hear you’ve been and enjoyed it too Becky! I’ve actually not been to that many UK castles but this was definitely a great one to start with!

  15. STUNNING! I would never guess that this place was sooo beautiful, and also I didnt know that it was once residence of Catherine of Aragon.
    I love mazes… I would love to get lost in this one.
    It was no doubt a great choice to spend your special day together! By the way, happy anniversary! 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 8:58 pm

      Thank you so much for the anniversary wishes Allane! The maze was good fun – amazing how the adults get just as lost in there as the kids!

      1. You’re welcome 😀
        Yes!! I have been to mazes before, in France, but I found it too easy… I need a complicated one!!

  16. LondonKiwiEmma July 23, 2015 — 7:09 am

    Is it weird that I want to move in? Beautiful, beautiful photos!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 9:14 pm

      Totally NOT weird Emma – who wouldn’t want to call a place like this home?! So happy to hear you like the photos! I know you have a soft spot for castles and heritage properties etc so I think you would really love a day out at Leeds Castle ☺

  17. Never visited but it looks really beautiful. Stunning and dreamy pictures, Shikha! An impressive castle that I visited was the Edinburgh Castle last year. Glad you had a great anniversary celebration 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 23, 2015 — 9:17 pm

      That’s definitely one I need to explore at some point as well Nita! I did see it only from a distance once when I was doing a day trip to Edinburgh but really should return and explore the city properly including the castle! Leeds castle was one I only came to know of in the last couple of years but I’m glad it’s really near home as I already want to return to take friends and family! If you’re ever back in London with a day to spare, o highly recommend it ☺

  18. I love castles. I really do. I love love love them. Also loving the underground tunnels and the chocolate pot with this one. So many castles, so little time!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 1, 2015 — 7:46 am

      Yes Frankie! Visiting this one made me realise what I’ve been missing out on all this time as I don’t think I’d gone to any castles in the UK until this one if you exclude weddings and primary school trips! And a bowl of dessert made of dessert – simple but genius no?

  19. What a great way to spend an anniversary! I didn’t realize this was so close to London and looks like a wonderful day trip. The castle is beautiful and I love the variety of activities they offer. We love visiting castles and we’d love to visit this one the next time we’re in London in the summer. Beautiful photos, Shikha!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 10, 2015 — 11:01 pm

      Thank you so much Mary! Yes it’s really near from London for an easy day trip so if you and the children enjoy castles, this would be a lovely day out especially with other activities going on too! England has so many of these gorgeous castles but would you believe this was the first time I have visited one since I was a child! Definitely going to make an effort to see more now though! Thanks so much for reading ☺

  20. Ok wow, how lovely is this place!! I love the way the reflection seems to glisten in the water – stunning! ❤

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 10, 2015 — 11:02 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind words about the photos Tim! The reflection really caught my eye too – actually the whole castle and its fun grounds did too. A really stunning place to visit, so near London yet so different! ☺

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 8, 2016 — 12:18 pm

      It’s honestly one of the prettiest castles I’ve ever seen Tanja and so close to London as well! Highly recommend it if you get a chance to go especially if it’s a lovely sunny day ☺

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