Best Castles to visit in the UK by Canal

6th March 2023

Castles are a tourist staple in the UK. Whether large and imposing or small and perfectly formed, Castles across the UK all have a unique story to tell. In this guide, we’ll list some of the best castles across the UK that are reachable by canal boat.

Warwick Castle by canal

First on our list is Warwick Castle. Originally a fort built by William the Conqueror in 1068, the castle has seen many developments in its over 900-year-old history.  The castle was rebuilt from stone in the 14th Century and was used as a stronghold for the next 300 years until it was gifted to Sir Fulke Greville who turned it into a country house.

Nowadays, Warwick Castle is open to the public and is a fantastic opportunity to experience medieval England. With Archery lessons, falconry shows and real-life knights. There’s also an immersive dungeon experience. Where you’ll learn about the dark history of the castle.

You can visit Warwick Castle from the Grand Union Canal as part of Warwickshire Ring, as it travels north towards Birmingham from Springwood Haven.  

Edinburgh Castle by canal

Next, we have Edinburgh Castle, sat on Castle Rock, there have been settlers on the site since the Iron age with a royal residence in place since the 12th century. The castle has played an important role in Scotland’s history, standing strong against masses of sieges and is home to the oldest crown jewels in Britain, the Honours of Scotland. The castle has long been a military stronghold and has evolved through the ages to include new barracks which were added in the 17th Century.

Our featured route between Edinburgh and Glasgow takes you to the canals end at Edinburgh Quay. From there you can explore historic Edinburgh Old Town, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and of course, Edinburgh.

Dudley Castle by canal

Dudley Castle is one of the more unusual castles on our list. This is because it’s also home to a zoo! The castle originated as a Norman wooden motte and bailey castle, and was rebuilt from stone in the 13th century. Following a fire in 1750 the castle became unhabitable however, it was maintained by the Earls of Dudley as a romantic ruin, with the main keep remaining a prominent feature in the Dudley skyline.

In 1937, the third Earl of Dudley opened Dudley Zoo in the castle grounds. Currently, the Zoo is linked with conservation and breeding programmes and is home to a number of endangered species, like Orangutans and Red Pandas.

Dudley Zoo and Castle is situated on Castle Hill overlooking the canal, and can be visited by canal on our featured route The Black Country Ring from Gailey Marina.

Chester Castle by canal

Chester Castle is bound by the famous city walls, overlooking the River Dee. The original castle was built in the 11th century and its wooden tower was replaced in the 12th century and has had many uses over the last 800 years including a prison, armoury, court and council office.

While visiting Chester, a walk around the castle and city walls is a must, there’s also a wealth of things to do for all ages in Chester. To visit Chester by canal, check out our Chester or Ellesmere and Return route from Anderton Marina.

There’s no doubt that approaching the UK’s best castles from the water is a magical way to experience their history. If you’re interested in the other historic buildings accessible from the water, check out our top stately homes accessible from the water. If you’re ready to book your next canal boat holiday, contact our helpful team today.

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