Bowes is a small settlement of solid stone built houses now bypassed by the busy A66. There is little to attract people to venture off the A66. The C16th coaching inn is shut and up for sale. The church is firmly locked with no information about a key holder, and there is little left of the castle.
The castle is set in the corner of the Roman fort of Lavartris which guarded the eastern approach to Stainmore, on the route between York and Carlisle.
An early wood castle was replaced by a stone keep at the end of the C12th. The castle was captured by Robert the Bruce in 1314 and 1322 and the governor expelled. By 1341 it was in a poor condition and of little use for defence. No repairs were carried out and it was eventually stripped of much of its stone facing in the C17th for use as building stone.
Now all that is left is the roofless shell of the keep. This was originally three stories high and entered at first floor level with the hall and solar. An internal spiral staircase lead to the storage basement and to the upper floor.
Now visitors climb through a hole in the wall and a modern stone spiral staircase leads to a viewing balcony on the first floor.
The castle is on Back Lane. There is no parking by the castle and turning is difficult. Park in the main street. The entrance is through the gate by the Pennine way sign. The castle is in the care of English Heritage, is free and open any reasonable time.
There isn’t a lot to see inside the keep. This is one best admired from the outside.