Bolsover Castle English Heritage Review For Families

When planning a family day out, we’re always on the lookout for interesting and enjoyable destinations. Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire proved to be the perfect stopover for us. We had an amazing time exploring the grounds and castle. This castle, managed by English Heritage, offers a unique combination of history, beautiful surroundings, and plenty of activities for families to enjoy.

From wandering through the lavish rooms of the Little Castle to exploring the romantic ruins of the Terrace Range, Bolsover Castle offers a unique experience for everyone. So, let’s dive in and discover everything this enchanting castle has to offer!

Where is Bolsover Castle Located?

Bolsover Castle is located in the picturesque town of Bolsover, Derbyshire, England. The castle’s exact address is Castle Street, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S44 6PR, UK. The village of Bolsover offers marked car parking, but be prepared to explore a bit further if it’s a busy day. The short walk back down the lane to the main entrance is a pleasant introduction to the castle’s surroundings.

History Of Bolsover Castle

Before we dive into the family-friendly activities, let’s take a moment to appreciate the rich history behind Bolsover Castle. 

Bolsover Castle’s history dates back to the early 17th century, when Sir Charles Cavendish, a courtier to James I, decided to transform the mediaeval fortress into a luxurious retreat. The result is a unique blend of mediaeval and Renaissance architecture, creating an awe-inspiring backdrop for visitors of all ages. 

Throughout its history, Bolsover Castle has witnessed grand banquets, and extravagant festivities, and played host to important figures in British history. Today, the castle stands as a testament to the opulence and grandeur of its past.

What is There to Do For Families?

Bolsover Castle offers a range of family-friendly activities and attractions that are sure to entertain visitors of all ages. Let us take you through some of our favourite experiences

Children’s Playground and Picnic Area:

As soon as we arrived, we headed straight to the children’s playground, which impressed us with its variety of swings, slides, and wooden forts. Matilda and Barney had a blast playing and burning off some energy before we embarked on our castle exploration. 

Nearby, we found convenient picnic tables where we enjoyed a delightful family picnic amidst the beautiful surroundings. It was the perfect way to fuel up before delving into the castle’s wonders.

The Little Castle:

The main attraction of Bolsover Castle is the “Little Castle,” also known as the keep. The Little Castle at Bolsover is a magnificent structure that was created as an extravagant retreat by Sir William Cavendish, a playboy, poet, and courtier. With its mediaeval-style turrets and towers, it is a building designed to surprise and delight. 

Thankfully, English Heritage has painstakingly restored much of this iconic structure, allowing visitors to experience its authentic splendour. The interiors were lavish and beautifully restored, offering a feast for the eyes. The colourful wall art, carved marble fireplaces, and stunning painted ceilings truly transported us to a different era. Matilda and Barney were particularly enchanted by the murals in the ground floor anteroom. They couldn’t get enough of the fascinating artwork.

Please note that the Little Castle requires some mobility as there are numerous stairs and no lifts. This is a great opportunity for children to immerse themselves in history and imagine what life was like in a castle.

Terrace Range:

Overlooking the Vale of Scarsdale, the Terrace Range was also created by Sir William Cavendish. Now a dramatic roofless shell, it once served as the entrance to Bolsover Castle. We used the multimedia guide to imagine the grand dining room, the long gallery, and the basement kitchen that once stood here. 

The views overlooking the Vale of Scarsdale are breathtaking. The Terrace Range offers a unique glimpse into the castle’s history and is sure to captivate both children and adults.

The Walls and Gardens:

Surrounding the Little Castle, we discovered the enchanting walls and gardens of Bolsover Castle. The walls offer breathtaking views of Bolsover, and our little ones enjoyed the adventure of climbing the steps. 

The children loved being on the Cavalier’s catwalk, as if they were courtiers from the Stuart era, strutting their stuff and taking in the panoramic views. It’s a spot you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re a photography enthusiast. We took some incredible photos while enjoying the stunning countryside scenery.

However, it is important to exercise caution as the castle is not completely childproof. The gardens, on the other hand, add an extra touch of beauty to the castle, with colourful flowers, a Venus Fountain, and well-maintained greenery.

Cavalier Horsemanship:

A visit to Bolsover Castle wouldn’t be complete without witnessing the magnificent indoor Riding School. Built by William Cavendish, who was once the riding master to the future King Charles II, the Riding School and stables were designed for the elegant horses he imported from various parts of the world. 

The magnificent indoor Riding School at Bolsover Castle is among the finest in the country. We imagined William Cavendish training his elegant horses in their exercises while admiring the central white post. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of the Cavalier Horsemanship displays set to evocative Baroque music. It’s a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Though there were no events on the day of our visit, we had the opportunity to learn about the castle’s history and the people who resided there. Matilda and Barney were thrilled to dress up as horse riders and embrace their imagination. 

Facilities At Bolsover Castle

To ensure your visit is comfortable and enjoyable, Bolsover Castle provides a range of facilities for families. Here are some of the amenities available:


Bolsover Castle has a large cafe with lovely views of the Riding House. The menu offers hot and cold meals, sandwiches, and delicious homemade cakes. Vegetarian options are available, and the cafe even offers made-to-order sandwiches. If you prefer a lighter snack, there is also a selection of ice creams and sweets to satisfy your cravings.


Conveniently located in the visitor centre and next to the Riding House, the toilets include facilities for those with limited mobility. Baby changing facilities are also available, ensuring a stress-free visit with your little ones.

Areas for Improvement

While our experience at Bolsover Castle was overall fantastic, we believe in providing honest feedback. One area that could be improved is managing school groups. It can get quite loud and crowded when multiple school groups visit simultaneously, making it challenging for other visitors to enjoy a peaceful experience. Allocating specific times for school groups could create a more harmonious environment for all visitors.

Would you recommend it?

Absolutely! Bolsover Castle proved to be an excellent choice for our family day out. From the moment we arrived, we were captivated by the charming atmosphere and the diverse range of activities available for families. Barney and Matilda thoroughly enjoyed exploring the castle, playing in the playground, and taking in the stunning views. 

We highly recommend a visit to Bolsover Castle for families looking to combine history, entertainment, and outdoor fun into a memorable experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about Clumber Park.

Is there a cafe?:

Yes, Bolsover Castle boasts a lovely cafe where you can enjoy a wide selection of food and drinks. The prices are reasonable, and the ambience is perfect for a relaxed meal or snack.

What is your favourite part?:

Our family’s favourite part of Bolsover Castle was exploring the Little Castle. The richly decorated interiors and the opportunity to learn about its history made it a truly enchanting experience for both children and adults.

Are dogs allowed at Bolsover Castle?

Yes, dogs are allowed to accompany visitors to Bolsover Castle. However, please note that dogs are not allowed in the Little Castle or at the Cavalier Horsemanship displays. Make sure to keep your furry companion on a lead throughout your visit.

Can we bring our bikes?

Bolsover Castle does not have specific bike racks or facilities for cyclists. However, if you plan to arrive by bike, it is best to check with English Heritage or the visitor information centre for any specific guidelines.

Is there parking available?

Yes, there is parking available in the village of Bolsover. However, it is worth noting that the car park near the castle can fill up quickly, especially on busy days. Alternatively, you may find additional parking options nearby.

Are there any entrance fees for visiting the park?

As an English Heritage site, Bolsover Castle is free to enter for English Heritage members. For non-members, there is an entrance fee which can be paid on arrival. We highly recommend considering an English Heritage membership if you plan to visit other historic sites in the future.

Pros & Cons


  • Beautiful heritage
  • Wonderful gardens and surroundings
  • Excellent play area for the children.
  • Friendly staff
  • Outstanding views


  • Car park is a little awkward.

English Heritage enjoyment rating

Last Updated on December 18, 2023 by Ryan

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