Good to spend an afternoon in the #SummerHolidays at one of my favourite childhood places, Greywell, King John’s/Odiham Castle.
It’s a hidden gem, free to visit and where you can easily waste a way an afternoon in the beautiful Hampshire countryside. You just need a sense of adventure, snacks (as usual for the kids) and maybe some food for the ducks – picking up sticks and playing a round of Poohsticks is optional!
The castle ruins, located along the Basingstoke canal have seen many historical events, from the signing of the Magna Carta, a French siege and even the imprisonment of a Scottish King!
But to me this castle brings back lots of special childhood memories which I love sharing with Betsy and Alfie who also love a good adventure. Memories of visiting my Grandma Cicely who lived on the bank of the canal and often let us play alongside it…
The castle ruins have changed and crumbled over the years – my Dad and Uncle Richard as kids remember reaching the top of the castle to nab some Kestrel’s eggs for tea! I less grandly, remember climbing over the stone and singing on many of an occasion ‘King of the Castle’ at my sisters! However, since 2007 Hampshire County Council have protected the castle from complete ruins, so there is now no climbing to be done! However, if you love a bit of history it’s well worth an nostalgic visit.
As a kid, as well as visiting the castle I used to be intrigued by what Grandma used to call the ‘Bat cave’. And no she didn’t mean the place where Batman and Robin lived! The cave or perhaps I should say Greywell tunnel, located not far from Odiham castle and still along the Basingstoke canal, collapsed in 1932 making it impassable for boats and now completely inhabited by bats. It has more roosting bats than any other site in Britain and if you visit around dusk in late Autumn you’re bound to see a few bats flying around the tunnel – a scary Halloween treat!
Alfie was just as intrigued by the bat cave as I was when I was his age and Betsy just held my hand in case a bat might make an appearance!
You can still walk over the tunnel and head into the village of Greywell. I love walking this way back towards Odiham, past my Grandma’s old abode – My dad and Uncle built this and named it ‘Penny Cottage’ as they found a penny (coin) on site when they were building it. This Penny still sits on the wall of the house! Just a few yards on is a bridge where a stream runs through and is the perfect spot for a few games of Poohsticks! Something else that both Betsy and Alfie enjoy doing and is somewhat therapeutic…
#AlfieBear #BetsyBoo #MummyClaire #GrandmaCicely