Former homeless veteran builds castle ruins to offer therapy to struggling ex-soldiers

  • ITV Wales' journalist Hannah Thomas speaks to castle creator Mike Allen

A former homeless veteran who suffered from depression has created a castle retreat on a Welsh mountainside to help other ex-servicemen and women.

Mike Allen, from Oakdale, had been working on the castle since 2019 which sits above Wattsville, in Caerphilly County.

The site is now home to Mike's charity, Endex, which helps to rehabilitate veterans and support those who may be struggling with their mental health.

"A lot of people come out the army with problems," Mike said.

"The vast majority of them manage them in their own ways and have great, productive lives but as with any walk of life, any individual I guess, people do slip.

"For myself I did slip for a period of time and I think building the castle is what kind of turned things around for myself."

Putting the castle together was a long process, Mike said.

He explained: "It's been three years altogether, it's been at three different stages.

"I started off building up to a cabin in the first year. Over the second year I built some platforms so people could spend time with their families safely.

"And then last year, during the lockdown, I spent so much time up here collecting stones and transforming it into this castle."

Collecting the stones, Mike said, took some considerable effort.

He said: "It's taken a long time to collect the stones. For every one hour of building it's five hours of collecting stones.

"I've had help from the local community and from friends."