Highclere Castle, the very reason my trip has been so long, soooo worth the wait and the visit. In February, when I booked this trip, I could not find a coach tour to take me to the castle, nothing was running any of the days that I was going to be here. So I decided to go on my own, no bus. A group of us estimated that it was only about $20 bucks cheaper to go on our own, but we had as much time as we wanted there. So I decided to spend the day there.
Newbury is about an hour train ride from Paddington Station, and then a 10 minute cab ride from Newbury station to the castle. Riding up to the castle takes your breath away. It is HUGE! I had a 1pm entry time, and it was only a little after 11, so I wandered around the Gardens, the woods, the gift shop, and sat under a tree and had a snack. I'm glad I brought an apple and banana because the cafe was unimpressive. I did have a cuppa and stole a spoon. I met far more Americans here than any other nationality.
Once I entered the house it is a one-way unguided tour. I had bought the longer book about the castle at the gift shop, so I knew what to look out for. No photos were allowed inside, but I befriended a mother and daughter from Alabama, and the daughter took pictures inside, she promised to send them to me. I got to see the dining room, the library, Lady Sybil's room, Lady Edith's room, and Lady Grantham's room. I walked down the big staircase, and looked at the main receiving room. It was pretty awesome. Filming of season 4 just ended Thursday, and a production team was there filming a movie to be aired in the states. I was filmed but not interviewed, they just interviewed staff of Highclere.
The grounds are exquisite, there is a wildflower meadow, and a secret garden. It was easy to spend time wandering the grounds. I shared a cab back with the mother and daughter from Alabama, and took the train back to London.
The visit was the perfect ending to this amazing trip