Day trip: Muncaster Castle in the Lake District

Muncaster Castle

FROM our holiday base in Troutbeck Bridge (a few minutes drive from Bowness in the Lake District), we took the journey over to Muncaster Castle near Ravenglass. Despite frequently wondering if our Satnav was playing with us by taking us on all manner of desolate little lanes, we finally arrived and parked in the car park opposite the gates. As the castle only opens at midday, we’d come prepared with a picnic to eat which was promptly munched in the car on arrival thanks to the drizzle.

The castle is entirely hidden from view and we took a walk along the drive, bordered on either side by mature trees and shrubs with several little paths shooting off much which should please families who are looking for some light adventure. After paying in the pavilion, another walk was taken up to the house which was preceded by a pleasant playground (swings, climbing frame etc), a stable block now housing the gift shop, cafe and tables and the owl enclosure.

>Muncaster Brian Sherwin

First we went to the house with a Georgian terrace that overlooked a sino-Himalayan garden and the many acres of grounds. The house tour was pleasant with the freedom to wander in and out of the many rooms to gaze at the many artefacts on display and the portraits of the family, descendents of whom still live here. An audio tour wand could be rented though it was difficult to concentrate with the children wanting to shoot off here and there and, naturally, poke things. Pushchairs had to be left downstairs so we took it in turns to take the children to explore the upstairs rooms on display including The Tapestry Room which is said to be haunted.

The World Owl Centre is situated in the grounds with over 40 types to see and talks given every afternoon. The squeamish may not appreciate seeing small piles of dead animals in the enclosures and it was tough going for our pushchair (pebble paths and steps) which led to us not seeing all the enclosures. We would have liked to explored further and suggest that you do instead!

Children could also take up the MeadowVole Maze challenge, an interactive exhibit voiced by Harry Enfield which is designed to introduce younger children to wildlife and has a question sheet to follow.

Naturally we finished up with a cake from Creeping Kate’s Kitchen before taking the stroll back along the driveaway. It may be off the beaten path but it’s a must see for owl and bird lovers and the children did enjoy some of the historical aspects of the castle.

Fact Box:

How much? Adults £8 (£10.50 inc. castle), Children 5-15 £6 (£7 inc. castle), Family 2+2 £26 (£30 inc. castle). Under 5s free.
Opening times: 12 – 4.30pm
Pushchair accessibility: All areas accessible except upstairs of the castle. Moderately difficult in owl enclosure.
Facilities: Good, clean.
Cafe: In courtyard with nice selection of hot and cold snacks, cakes etc
SatNav postcode: CA18 1RD

Image: Brian Sherwin, Muncaster Castle.
Related post: See Linda’s report of a weekend in the Lake District.
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