Whilst Her Majesty spends her Summer in Scotland, visitors to Windsor Castle can sign up to a Conquer the Tower Tour. Over August and September the public get the opportunity to climb the two-hundred steps of the iconic Round Tower. I recently went on one of these tours and it was fantastic. When I woke up it was a beautiful day with a perfect clear sky but as the day progressed and as I got on the train to Windsor it just became cloudy and muggy.
The 200 steps might sound a little daunting but half way up you get a breather and can step out onto the parapets before climbing right to the top. From here you get a unique view over the Lower Ward and out across Windsor. Here your guide teaches you some brief history of the Tower.
The mound is the oldest part of the castle, originally supporting a wooden structure. The castle was built in 1070 during the Norman conquest and the current tower is actually the second to have been built on the site. For most of its history, the Round Tower stood at half of its current height (which would have been far less impressive).
The Tower currently houses the Royal Archives and there isn’t anything left to see inside. It was never intended as the residence for the Royal family but in fact usually housed the Constable of the Castle. However some Kings, such as Henry III and Edward III did temporarily live in accommodation here whilst their extensive building regime took place elsewhere on site.
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos looking out over the Quadrangle where the Royal Apartments are. Looking in that direction I could just about make out the London skyline in the distance, spotting the iconic Shard and Canary Wharf. It was such a shame that it had clouded over because the view would have been phenomenal if it was a clear day. As you are towering above the surrounding landscape, you really understand what a strategic position the castle holds, and precisely why it has managed to become the oldest inhabited castle in the world.
We couldn’t resist a selfie..
I remember when I first visited the castle at a time when the Tower Tours were not yet running and being gutted that you could not get inside the most recognised part of the castle and so am so pleased to have got the chance. You get a brilliant birds-eye view of the castle and of the surrounding area but if you don’t have a chance to climb to the top then don’t worry because you can pick up all of the history just as easily at the bottom!