Tin Box Tot and Mr Tin Box at the top of Pendennis Castle - Cornwall day out with English Heritage
Cornwall, Family days out, Family travel

Exploring Pendennis Castle with kids – an English Heritage day out in Cornwall

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The voices of the past echo loud at Pendennis Castle at Falmouth in Cornwall. The barracks at this Tudor fortification were manned for more than four centuries before it was finally decommissioned in the 1950s. Indeed the cliff top observation station and air raid shelter appear to have only recently been vacated by the troops stationed here during the Second World War.

It’s an eeire and fascinating place that made for a great day out with kids in Cornwall. We visited Pendennis Castle with our girls and Tin Box Dog during a recent autumn break in our caravan.

If you’re looking for more holiday and days out inspiration check out our essential guide to family holidays in Cornwall.

An English Heritage day out in Cornwall

Pendennis Castle from moat

The castle was first commissioned by King Henry VIII in response to invasion threats from the continent. Pendennis was built on the mouth of the River Fal, forming a formidable coastal defence with its twin, St Mawes Castle, on the other side. Mini Travellers visited St Mawes Castle earlier in the year.

Ironically Pendennis’s fortifications were first tested not against foreign foes but during the English Civil War of 1646. It was one of the last strongholds for the forces loyal to King Charles.

Layer upon layer of defences were built over the centuries in response to new military threats. Tunnels carved into the headland cliffs and artillery was updated right up until the Second World War when conflict threatened the south west coastline. Training continued in the barracks until 1956.

Pendennis Castle roof
Pendennis Castle with kids - Barracks

Things to do at Pendennis Castle with kids

Explore the castle grounds

The castle grounds are a great space for kids to explore. The lawn between the barracks and castle keep is perfect for letting kids run off steam.

Barracks and lawn from the top of the castle - Pendennis Castle with kids

Discover cannons and tunnels

There’s also dozens of cannons and the remains of more modern artillery around the walls of the fort. You can also play hide and seek around the moat and in the tunnels carved into the cliffs.

Tot under Castle - Pendennis Castle with kids
View of the River Fal from Pendennis Castle

Keep look out

Admire the panoramic views of the Fal and coastline from the top of the keep.

View from the top of Pendennis Castle
View of Falmouth from Pendennis Castle

Storm the keep

See what it was like to live in the castle keep with its tight spiral staircases, portcullis and long drop latrine.

Tin Box Baby standing by portcullis in in Castle - Pendennis Castle with kids
Family walking across bridge - Pendennis Castle with kids

Listen to voices from the past

Hear the voices of the past in Barrack Observation Point, War Shelter, Gunpowder magazine and gun room in the keep where conversations from conflicts past are replayed.

War Shelter scene at Pendennis Castle
Batter Observation Port at Pendennis Castle
Battery Observation Post desk Dendennis Castle

Take charge of the fort

Find out how war time defences worked and how messages were sent in the interactive exhibition in the Field Train Shed.

Exhibits in Field Train Shed at Pendennis Castle

Handy information about visiting Pendennis Castle

Tin Box Dog at portcullis gate - Pendennis Castle with kids
  • Most of the site is pushchair friendly but there are lots of steps once you get inside the fortifications.
  • English Heritage days out are great for families with dogs. Tin Box Dog was allowed everywhere but in the cafe.
  • The cafe serves hot and cold food, but was only doing sandwiches and cake the day we visited as a wedding was being held in the keep.
  • The onsite toilets are at the barrack block which is quite a trek from some parts of the fort.

For more information about Pendennis Castle, its opening times and prices see the English Heritage website.

If you’re looking for more holiday and days out inspiration check out our essential guide to family holidays in Cornwall and my guide to castles in Devon and Cornwall.

Planning a visit to Pendennis Castle with kids? Pin this post for future reference.

A visit to Pendennis Castle with kids. This family and dog-friendly fortification in Cornwall is looked after by English Heritage and makes a great day out #EnglishHeritage #Cornwall #England #UKtravel #castle #familydayout #familytravel #EnglishHeritage #dogfriendly #history #Falmouth

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