Having grown up with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories, this is just what I imagined Kirrin Castle to be like, except it isn’t on an island.
Set high above the town on a grassy mound between the two beaches at Criccieth, this was originally a Welsh Castle having been built by Llywelyn the Great around 1230. Fifty years later, it was captured by Edward I who refortified the castle by adding an extra storey on the gatehouse towers and adapted the Engine Tower for use by a trebuchet. At the beginning of the 15thC, Owain Glyndwr captured and burnt the castle. Left in ruins, it was never rebuilt.
The two massive gateway towers with a curtain wall enclose a small inner bailey. To the north, steps lead up to the Engine tower. To the south are the remains of the Prison Tower.
There isn’t a lot of the castle left but on a clear day there are superb views down the Llyn Peninsula to Llanbedrog and the headland beyond Abersoch. We could pick out and identify all the summits of the string of hills from Madryn, Boduan, Yr Eifl to Gyrn Ddu, all walked over at various times. Across the bay is Harlech although it can be difficult to pick out the castle against the houses of the town. Behind is the mass of Moel Ysgyfarnogod.
The long stretch of sand of Criccieth beach stretches to Black Rock Sands, overlooked by Moel y Gest with the bulk of Moel Hebbog looming to the side of it.
The visitor Centre at the bottom has an exhibition on Welsh Castles and information about Gerald of Wales and the trip he made with Archbishop Baldwin through Wales in 1188. The 15 minute video is worth watching. Although originally aimed at kids, there is a lot of humour as well as solid fact.
A steep gravel path leads up to the castle. We didn’t envy the two workmen who were having to push a loaded wheelbarrow of gravel up it to repair erosion to the site.
There is on road parking by the Visitor centre. Failing that, there is a large lay by opposite the Marine Hotel just beyond the castle. Entry for senior citizens is £2.65
Don’t forget to visit Cadwaladers Ice cream after your visit.