We chose the self-directed version of the tour of Castle Bolton. Most of the the rooms have plaques explaining the function of the room and the occupation or role of the individual(s) who occupied the room. So we don't feel our experience at CB was lessened by not having a guide. The tour of the castle ascends several floors, and the stone stairwells are spiraling, but not claustrophobic like Warwick Castle (which I very highly recommend, by the way) or the Tower of London. Each room is different, and you get the sense that the higher the room within the castle, the greater importance of the individual who occupied that room. There are enough furnishings and period pieces in most of the rooms to convey the feeling of what it was like to live in the castle. This makes the castle still feel "alive" despite falling into disuse many centuries ago. The top of the castle is open to the elements, and moderately acrophobic, but perfectly safe, with sturdy metal hand rails installed, and metal grates over the lower openings. Climbing to the top is worth the fleeting fear of heights to enjoy view of the bucolic countryside.
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