Stirling Castle (01786 450000). If you approach Stirling from the west, the castle dominates the skyline for miles. Like Edinburgh Castle it sits above the town on a lofty perch. This castle, however, outdoes Edinburgh's efforts and looks even more spectacular - largely because of the flatness of the surrounding landscape. The history here is also dramatic stuff - particularly as the castle was the focus of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Visitors can wander through rooms where James VI and Mary Queen of Scots stayed. Children might like to see the current exhibition of 17th-century kitchens or just dart through passageways exploring the castle's nooks and crannies. The castle is open from 9.30am to 6pm (with last admission at 5.15pm) and costs pounds 4 for adults, pounds 2.50 for senior citizens, pounds 1.20 for children over five, under fives free.

Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent (01622 765400) dates back to the 8th century. The castle stands on a moated island and the 500 acres of surrounding grounds include a maze, aviaries, vineyards, plant shops and restaurants. Children may like to explore the underground grotto with its tunnels, caves and cascading waterfalls. Family tickets are pounds 23 for up to two adults and three children or, to pay separately, entrance costs pounds 8.50 for adults, pounds 5.50 for children and is free for the under fives. The castle is currently open from 10am to 5pm daily.

Warwick Castle (01926 495 421) offers visitors a glimpse into castle life through the ages with historical wax figures set in a number of different scenes. The prison towers, the ramparts, the dungeons, the armoury and the torture chambers are all open to view. Allow at least three hours to make sure you see everything. This weekend entrance will also include a jousting display in the grounds. A family ticket (two adults, two children) costs pounds 27. Otherwise entrance prices are pounds 9.95 for adults and pounds 5.95 for four to 16 year olds. Opening hours are 10am-6pm, last admission at 5.30pm.

Powis Castle (01938 554338) near Welshpool, is a rosy-coloured medieval castle originally built by Welsh princes in around 1200. The castle houses one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales and a collection of Indian artwork displayed in the Clive Museum. However, the real attraction is the gardens which drip down over terraces past an orangery and an aviary to a woodland wilderness. Childrens' garden and castle quiz sheets are available for 25p and entrance costs are pounds 6 for adults, pounds 3 for children or pounds 15 for a family. The castle is open daily except Mondays (although it is open on Bank Holiday Monday) between noon and 4pm and the gardens are open on the same days between 11am and 5.30pm.