Wednesday, May 31 – Beeston Castle

Today I thought I would fulfil my decision of May 9, when I found that the castle was closed on Tuesdays, so off I went with a light heart and quick pedals. Who wouldn’t on a day like this? Barton Bridge, Sale, Altrincham, Mere, Over Tabley, Lostock Gralam and Northwich flashed by, and climbing the long hill west of Northwich reached Hartford. At Sandiway I turned left along a monotonous and tarry road, and found myself in those bewitching bylanes near Eaton. Through the village and at length along to the foot of the castle hill.

Coming to the big gates (which belong to a farm) I obtained admission, and leaving the bike, I commenced the walk up the grassy slope. Built in 1220, Beeston Castle is, or was, of great strength, standing on an isolated sandstone rock 365 ft above the lowlands. The outer court is irregular, covering about five acres of land. Around the castle is a deep ditch, quite ten feet wide, and four times that deep, the sides of which are unassailable. The castle itself is entered by a drawbridge, on the inner side of this are two circular watch towers. Both these are complete. Taken in 1264, it was retaken in 1265 by Simon de Monfort. In 1399, the Duke of Lancaster captured the castle, and it yielded treasure valued at 2 million marks. Afterwards the castle fell in ruins, but was rebuilt in the time of Henry VIII.

It was prophesied that ‘Beeston Castle would save all England in a day’, and the prophecy was partly carried out, when, in the tumultuous days of the Civil wars it became a strong Royal fortification. It did much to help the cause of King Charles, the defenders holding out to the last, and only surrendering under conditions that gave them great security. Afterwards it was dismantled by Cromwell, and again became a ruin. I could not get to the keep, as it was only opened on occasion. After a while I returned to the entrance, and with the historical old ruin behind me reached Winsford. At Middlewich I turned on the Knutsford road, and by various bylanes I reached the latter place, then the 24 miles home via Altrincham and Barton, arriving home at 7.15pm.                                                                                      104 miles, 9 hours