The Secret Castle of Usk

December 27, 2015
Share this:
  • 30
  • 53
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Secret Castle of Usk

Norman ruins, garden art, and stunning scenery at Usk Castle in southeast Wales

Usk (Brynbuga in Welsh) is a town of just under 3,000 people in southeast Wales. It is located along the River Usk, a salmon fishing river. It developed as a small market town and is a regular winner of the Wales in Bloom contest. And it has a secret castle waiting to be discovered.

Usk was an overnight stop for us on a short trip into south Wales. In the morning, we planned to head directly to our next destination in the Brecon Beacons with a visit to Raglan Castle along the way. We knew there was a castle in Usk, but it did not receive the same amount of tourism coverage as other sites in the area, including Raglan. We almost left town without seeing the castle and that would have been a shame. The ruins were impressive, the grounds beautiful and peaceful, and the views stunning.

Entrance to Usk Castle

Entrance to Usk Castle

Usk Castle and town were likely laid out around 1120. The first mention of the castle is from 1138. Today the castle is privately owned. It is open to the public most days during daylight hours for self-guided tours. We passed through a stone archway to enter the grounds. On a shelf inside the entrance we found a money box for donations and a pot of pebbles. We were to take a pebble from the pot and place it into a wooden bowl, the owners’ way of counting visitors.

Usk Castle Gatehouse wall

Usk Castle Gatehouse wall

Usk Castle Garrison Tower

Usk Castle Garrison Tower

Usk Castle

Signboards provide information about the history of Usk Castle. Topiary and wooden sculptures are found throughout the grounds. Rather than detract from or clash with the ruins, they blend nicely with their surroundings and add to the serenity of the site.

Usk Castle garden art

Usk Castle Tithe Barn

Tithe Barn with view of Usk town in background

View from Usk Castle

The view

Usk Castle view

You only need thirty to forty-five minutes to tour Usk Castle, although you may want to linger longer and enjoy the scenery and serenity. In addition to being open to the public during daylight hours, Usk Castle is available to rent for weddings and other events.

 

PIN ITUsk, Wales has beautiful and romantic castle ruins - The Secret Castle of Usk #Wales #castle

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for Destinations Detours and Dreams monthly e-newsletter. Get behind the scenes information and sneak peeks ahead in addition to a recap of the month’s posts.  


Share this:
  • 30
  • 53
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Reply
    jacquiegum
    December 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Another treasure you’ve brought to my inbox, Donna! I’ve never heard of Usk, but how lovely. I am always amazed that the owners of these historical sites allow and encourage visitors in order to preserve the history and make it a living thing.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Jacquie, it is a bit amazing that private owners preserve history in this way. But wouldn’t it be cool to own your own castle? You’d likely feel you had to share it!

  • Reply
    Tag Along Deb
    December 27, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    How lovely! Clever way to count visitors and I love the topiary.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Deb, it was an unusual and clever way to count visitors. The topiary was a bit of a surprise. It was nicely done and fit into the landscape.

  • Reply
    Anita and Richard @ No Particular Place To Go
    December 28, 2015 at 2:46 am

    So green and I imagine the views were stunning – I’d love to see it when the flowers are blooming in Usk but the contrast of the deep greens and reds of the foliage was also beautiful. The castle of Usk may be off-the-beaten path but it’s definitely a place worthy of a visit. Lovely! Anita

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Anita, the fall colours were lovely, but I imagine Usk Castle would be quite beautiful in summer when flowers are in bloom.

  • Reply
    carolcolborn
    December 28, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I love the grounds and the gardens that complement the ruins. I am glad that a private owner is keeping the history and tradition alive. I was thinking my daughter could have been married there instead of in Guthrie Castle in Scotland!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Carol, Usk castle would be a beautiful spot for a wedding but I’m sure your daughter’s wedding at Guthrie Castle was lovely too. Getting married at a castle sounds so romantic!

  • Reply
    Rebecca (Bex)
    December 28, 2015 at 10:23 am

    What beautiful pictures! I’ve been to Usk, but never made it to the castle…it looks charming, as does the Grounds.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      Rebecca, it was beautiful. I’m glad we decided to stop before leaving town.

  • Reply
    Noel Morata (@emorata)
    December 28, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Even as ruins it is striking, I love the red vines adding contrast to the stonework of the ruins, beautiful

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Noel, it was striking. I too loved the red vines.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    December 28, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I’ve never heard of Usk or its castle but the area looks so picturesque! I love how the ruins blend beautifully into the landscape.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      Shelley, the ruins did seem to blend into the landscape. It was a very peaceful spot.

  • Reply
    yashajoy
    December 28, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Always lovely to find something like this which is off the main tourist routes. Did you have it to yourself, or were there other visitors there. It looks like a lovely place to meander about.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 28, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Yasha, there was another couple who left shortly after we arrived. We were alone for the rest of our time there. It was lovely to meander around on our own in the misty morning.

  • Reply
    MoreTimeToTravel (@MoreTime2Travel)
    December 29, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Looks like you discovered a lovely secret that has preserved its history!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 30, 2015 at 8:32 am

      It was very lovely.

  • Reply
    A Taste for Travel
    December 29, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Usk Castle truly is a hidden secret in Wales. I’d love to return to Wales and explore more of its history and architecture ( and food!)

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

      I’d like to get back too and explore more of Wales.

  • Reply
    The GypsyNesters
    December 29, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    What a cool place! Love the gardens and vines growing on the castle walls.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 30, 2015 at 8:42 am

      The gardens created a great ambiance.

  • Reply
    Rachel Heller
    December 30, 2015 at 3:06 am

    Usk sounds like a great short stop as you explore south Wales. I love wandering medieval ruins like that and imagining what it was like when it was new.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 30, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Rachel, I too usually enjoy imaging what ruins were like when new and did that in other sites. At Usk, I found myself more just soaking in the current mood and beauty.

  • Reply
    Ursula Maxwell-Lewis (@YouTravel)
    December 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Donna, I love Wales, but this is an area yet to be explored. I’ve heard of Usk, and am always fascinated by haunting ( or haunted!} old ruins. Result of an overactive imagination! Will add it to the itinerary on my next visit.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      January 2, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Ursula, haunting is a good word to describe Usk Castle. Lots to spark the imagination.

  • Reply
    Kristin Henning
    December 31, 2015 at 11:44 am

    What a great find to visit Usk Castle! The luck of the Welsh was with you:)

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      January 2, 2016 at 7:46 am

      Thanks Kristin.

  • Reply
    Rose Mary Griffith
    January 2, 2016 at 6:56 am

    On our first trip to Wales in 2014, we discovered that it truly is the land of Castles. That trip we were on the western shore and toured big sites like St David’s. The trip this spring, my sister and I will be seeking out these hidden gems. Donna, thanks for showing us another place to put on the list!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      January 2, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Rose Mary, this was first trip to Wales, but I got the feeling it has lots of hidden gems. Enjoy your upcoming trip.

  • Reply
    Patti Morrow
    January 4, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Usk Castle is so picturesque and interesting! Loved the views, too!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      January 5, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Thanks Patti

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.