After a fortifying cup of tea in the tea rooms I headed out to explore the gardens at the castle. Walter Speed, who became head gardener in 1862 and continued working there for an impressive 58 years, is considered the creator of the grounds and gardens. In fact the gardens were renowned as one of the top three best gardens in Britain and Speed was given the prestigious Victoria Medal for Horticulture by Queen Victoria herself.
The Walled Garden (above) was my first stop. A quiet area (I hardly saw anyone else inside or outside the castle) it has a formal terrace of box-edged beds surrounding three ornamental ponds. Down some steps from here was this very pretty archway planted with red-flowered trailing fuchsias.
One area of the grounds I particularly wanted to see was the 14th century chapel that was moved to its present location in the late 18th century. Along the wall are slate gravestones for some of the family’s dogs.
Also walking around to the castle lawn allows you to get a better view of the castle as a whole, particularly the Virginia creeper which gives it a lovely distinctive look.
From the grounds you also get great views over the North Wales coast – in the distance you can just make out the Great Orme of Llandudno (more on that later).
The grounds are quite extensive and there are several walks available – I only did a fraction since I was very aware that the later in the day it got the less regular the buses became. You can find more photos of the gardens and grounds here.