“I’m on my way… Driving at ninety down those country lanes… Singing to ‘Tiny Dancer’… And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real… We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill…”
It’s not everyday you find yourself in a fairytale, and what better soundtrack to have on replay as you enter the quintessential Tafaria Castle and Country Lodge than Ed Sheeran’s Castle On The Hill?
Travelling from Nairobi to the Laikipia plains, passing the breathtaking alpine scenery at the foothills of Aberdare Ranges lays Deighton Downs, where a dream stands in splendour of renaissance.
When I think of castles, I picture Elsa and Anna’s castle in Frozen; Fiona locked in a tower as Shrek swoops in and saves the day, Sleeping Beauty’s thorny monstrosity or some other fairytale castle.
But as I came to learn from my unfortunate short stay at what can only be described as a castle straight out of a Disney catalogue, Tafaria Castle is modelled after a kingdom in medieval times.
And while its counterparts in the Middle Ages started out pretty modest, Tafaria, reigns over the Aberdares. The castle sits at 7,700 feet above sea level and houses a Lord’s Room (grandeur and fit for royalty, where the ‘Lord of the castle’ resides) and Court (which occupies seven lavish rooms where the ‘Lord’s’ friends are accommodated within the castle).
These overlook the Castle’s residential quarters, namely: Damsels, Vikings, Knights and Manor. And as a kingdom, each residence positioning is of great significance.
Take the Damsels, who were traditionally the Lord’s concubines. These beautiful unmarried women are positioned beside the Knight’s (guards), who protect them from the Vikings. They say the devil is in the details, and as such, each residence is built in a way to suit the occupant.
Take the Vikings; they are housed in makeshift tents with wheels, as they needed to be ready to rise and leave in case an invasion was inbound. Every second in this majestic castle took me to the Château de Pierrefonds, situated North of Paris near the Forest of Compiègne, the crown jewel, which came to be known to many as Merlin’s Camelot featured in the BBC TV series Merlin.
And while this damsel wasn’t sipping away at the warm rich ruby red 2015 South Africa Fish Hoek at Castles bar, The Moat, or trying her hand at archery and failing dangerously at the luscious green meadows, she was captivated by the majestic Taji and Malaika percherons, probably the only two of their kind in Kenya.
And while the Castle’s frontage showing the statue of the immortalised stallion, Jach, makes quite an impression, these breeds, which I came later to find out were originally from the Perche province of France and were traditionally bred for war, are beyond your wildest dreams. Fitting really, especially because Tafaria was founded upon a dream.