We knew we would be doing a lot of walking this trip, and that’s a good thing. We knew we’d probably climb towers and up into hilltowns, and that’s a good thing too.
But I swear it feels like we are hiking up some rampart, castle tower or belfry every flippin’ day at this point. I have seen more towns from above than I have actually seen at street level.
Don’t get me wrong. I like the views, and I like the exercise. But I feel like we’ve become a family that says, “Climb 300 feet straight up to the top of the tower? Of course we will!”
And it’s all done by a series of ladders? Awesome! Or by little, tiny, narrow spiral staircases where you have to smash up against the wall if someone is coming the other way or even go back UP to get to a tiny landing to let them pass? Even better!
And we PAY to do these things!
But even I will admit that, asthma inhaler in hand, the climbs are a blast, and the views make it worthwhile.
At Warwick Castle, it’s quite easy to do a portion of the castle walls and towers. If you’d like to tackle Guy’s Tower which is 39 meters tall, you can take a look at each of the five stories as you climb. Or perhaps you’d prefer Caesar’s Tower which is 500 steps straight up to the top?
Or maybe you’re like us, so you do both towers, plus every single castle wall and tower in between.
Or maybe you want to visit York and walk a portion of the city walls to enjoy the view. Or walk all 2.5 miles of them, which doesn’t include the portions that are no longer walled in, so you have to detour. Or you get lost and take a LONG detour. Fortunately, the York City Walls have lots of bars. Unfortunately, bars is what the gatehouses are called so no drinks are served. If only that had been explained to me BEFORE I agreed to this outing!
If we go too long without a climb, the kids will find one. It’s as if the fact that they haven’t been viewing life from a perch for a few days is too much for them. So they look for ways to gain a higher perspective.
When we got to Ireland, we found lots of great places to climb along the Ring of Kerry. We hiked up hills to get to beautiful viewpoints. And had to pay for that too — just to park! I would have gladly paid if it had meant someone would shuttle my rear end to the top!
And we loved the circle forts which gave us lots of places to climb and play.
We even found an abandoned castle that wasn’t in any guidebook thanks to a family we met at one of the forts. This was probably one of our best exploration climbs. And it would have NEVER happened in the States as it has injury lawsuit written all over it.
Also in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher was definitely one of our favorite views. Absolutely spectacular, and the rain held off for us!
Sometimes we’ve found that just walking on walls gets a bit mundane, so we mix it up a bit like Missa B did here at Charles Fort in Kinsale, Ireland.
And in Kilkenny, Ireland, we HAD to climb the St .Canice’s Cathedral round tower — it’s one of only two round towers that people can climb in all of Ireland! Who can say no to that? Well, actually, I could have, but my family didn’t give me a choice. It’s climbed by a series of internal ladders going straight up. Don’t get me started about what it’s like when people are coming the other way. And, we even had to get special permission for the kids because you have to be 12 years old to climb it. Somehow our 7 and 10 year old convinced the people there that they could do it, and so they did.
Sometimes, it’s not towers we’re climbing, but into hilltowns. As in, park your car at the bottom and hoof it. This is the view we had when we finally made it to the top of Eze, a gorgeous town along the French Riviera. Except you hike straight up to the top of the town. Did I mention that it was 97 degrees that day? And for some insane reason we left our water bottles in the car? Missa B was ecstatic when we found a place to get a drink.
And of course, Carcassonne’s ramparts beg to be walked. A city that glows in the evening when viewed from afar. The problem is that if you’re staying inside the walls, then you have to climb back up after taking in the view. Although our car was in the car park at the bottom, and I almost considered staying there for the night.
And even in Brugges, Belgium which is flat, we found a place to climb. The belfry, standing 82 meters, offered us an amazing view of the city. And, we timed to be at the top when the bells rung which was well worth it.
There have been a lot of other climbs along the way, but these are some of our favorites. At this rate, the Duomo in Florence and the Eiffel Tower should be a breeze!
If we don’t collapse first.