Mikey Allen built his own castle
Photo by WalesOnline/Rob Browne

From Soldier to Survivor Allen’s Journey through Flashbacks, Homelessness, and Healing with the Castle Project

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Mikey Allen, an army veteran who built a stone castle by hand as a therapeutic project to cope with PTSD, has been ordered to dismantle his creation. The castle, located on a hill above Wattsville in Caerphilly’s Sirhowy Valley, has become a landmark, drawing visitors from as far as Canada and New Zealand.

Allen, 43, began constructing the impressive fort atop Mynyddislwyn Mountain to help manage his PTSD and depression, as reported by Wales Online. The castle, built from over 100 tonnes of stone, served not just as a personal sanctuary but also as a community hub for wellbeing gatherings and charity work with Endex, a project supporting the rehabilitation of veterans and others with mental health issues.

Despite its popularity and the therapeutic benefits it provided, the Caerphilly Council has ruled that the structure was built without proper planning permission and must be demolished. The decision comes after the council deemed the land was being used for recreational rather than agricultural purposes, necessitating official planning consent.

Allen has come to terms with the council’s decision and plans to rebuild the castle using cement to ensure its longevity. His future plans include transforming the current fort into two separate structures: a barn and a bothy for public use, with the proper permissions secured.

The castle began as a modest cabin in 2019 when Allen, then homeless, was offered accommodation on a local farm. The farmers allowed him to build on the land, though they did not anticipate a castle would emerge. Over time, the structure evolved significantly as Allen used it as a form of therapy to avoid dwelling on negative thoughts and memories.

Allen shared his journey from being an active-duty soldier in Afghanistan to facing severe personal challenges, including flashbacks, depression, homelessness, and suicidal thoughts. The castle project became a lifeline, helping him re-engage with his family, return to work, and start counseling.

Despite the council’s acknowledgment of the castle’s positive impact on the community, they stated they must enforce planning laws consistently. A spokesman for Caerphilly council expressed sympathy for Allen’s situation but emphasized the necessity to uphold planning regulations.

Allen remains optimistic about the rebuild, stating, “I am happy with the building side of it all so I don’t mind taking it down and building it back up again. I’d rather it be here for centuries rather than a couple of decades.”

He concluded with determination, “I think it is best you take it down sooner rather than later. We are not going to wait to hear back and I am going to start to take it down this month regardless. In either scenario, it has to come down so I’m going to make the most of the good weather and start now.”

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