Castle Ashby Gardens, Northamptonshire review

Castle Ashby is the ancestral home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton. You can’t go in the castle itself but you can walk around the gardens, enjoy the play area and see the animals in the menagerie. You can visit at any time of the year but if you’re looking to have a cheap day out with the kids then if you visit in what is their ‘winter season’ then you only pay for parking. 

Where is Castle Ashby Gardens? 

Castle Ashby Gardens is in Northamptonshire, about 30 minutes from where we live in Milton Keynes. It’s relatively easy to get to. The post code is NN7 1LF – but you need to follow brown signs for the gardens as you approach it. There is a large car park – the car park only takes coins not card. 

How much does it cost to visit Castle Ashby Gardens? 

The key thing to making Castle Ashby Gardens a cheap day out for kids is at what time of year you go. At the time of writing it was free entry in the winter season – you just pay to park. We last visited in January 2020. The last day of the winter season is 27th March 2020 and up until that time you pay £5 to park and you must take coins. You can not pay by card. You can just turn up and put your money in the parking machine machine and that’s all you pay. In the summer season you do pay an entry fee. Between 28th March and 4th November 2020 it’s £8 adult, £2 child and under 5s are free although you can buy a family ticket for £18. 

What are the best bits about Castle Ashby Gardens for kids? 

There’s a really nice play area right next to the car park and it’s mud free so a good one in wet weather. There’s a small wooden castle, train, slide, caterpillar and some assault course equipment. It’s fun for role play and my two children aged six and four found it fun. Walk around the gardens and you’ll come to a menagerie where are the most delightful meerkats as well as some other animals including giant rabbits, budgies, pigs and marmosets. Carry on walking and look at the trees – there are hidden fairy doors on many of them. 

What else is good about Castle Ashby Gardens? 

The gardens themselves are very pretty and well kept and still look nice in the winter. There’s an orangery where you’ll find some fabulous fish, plants and sculptures. It’s a great place for lots of lovely photos with the family. There are some huge trees and plenty of space to run around. There are toilets. They ARE open in the winter season. 

What could be improved about Castle Ashby Gardens? 

Overall we really like it. But at the time we visited in January 2020 I felt the play area could do with a bit of TLC – for example the caterpillar needed a bit of repair work. The parking machine only takes cash. Who has £5 in coins on them these days? For the amount you pay in parking I’d expect it to have a more modern parking machine. It was such a shame the tea rooms were closed. With the gardens open and animals out then as long as there’s not torrential rain then it’s a good day out whatever time of year – and the tea rooms are so well placed next to the play area for grown-ups to have a hot drink whilst the kids play. That said as long as you’re prepared with food and drink as well as cash then we’re still happy to visit. Would we pay full price to go in the summer months? Well it’s a lovely place and beautiful on a sunny day but with so many country parks within an hour of where we live we’d be more likely to go to those and save this one for the cheap winter season. 

Any tips for visiting Castle Ashby Gardens? 

Yes! Apart from taking food and drinks check their website before you go – they do close the gardens in high winds. 

I'm Laura, mum of a 6 year old and a 4 year old. I've spent the last year on maternity leave creating this blog. It's a hobby and I do it all late at night once the little boys are sleeping. I hope you find it useful. Do drop me an email laura@miltonkeyneskids.com if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on my Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place.