Muncaster Castle is one of the biggest attractions in the south-west Lake District and offers a great day out in a stunning location. Between its interesting history, extensive gardens, regular events and stunning views, it’s both fascinating for adults and loads of fun for children.
Set in an elevated position just outside the coastal village of Ravenglass, the castle offers amazing views of an open valley backed by incredible Lakeland fells including Scafell and Muncaster Fell. A wonderful panorama from the canon bank lets you take in the mountains and the River Esk flowing to meet the sea at Ravenglass.
Image by Dave Willis
Muncaster Castle is a site of tremendous historic interest. The original foundations of the building itself date back as far as 79AD, although construction of the castle as you see it today started in 1258. The whole building is steeped in history and intrigue, with tales of kings, queens and murder.
Reputedly haunted, there are ghostly tales to be heard and mysterious sights to be seen. Halloween Week is one of the castle’s most popular events in the year and teams of ghost hunters regularly visit the building to try and unravel its mysteries.
If you’re not into your ghouls and poltergeists, never fear! In the bright light of day, the castle has plenty to offer. Learn about the history of the Pennington family - who still live at Muncaster and have done for over 800 years - and its role in historic events. There is also beautiful artwork on display, antiques to admire, and rooms preserved as they would have been when they were welcoming royalty.
There’s a handy audio guide available to use as you wander the halls and rooms of this fascinating spot. It's even narrated by the family members who currently live in the castle!
Image by Dave Willis
The main Muncaster estate is a 77-acre paradise and you can explore it all! Wherever you wander, you will find something beautiful and fascinating. The bluebell woods are a must-see between late and mid-May, while the rhododendrons from April to June were once considered the largest collection in Europe and are an absolute riot of colours.
The Victorian Terrace is the finest man-made garden structure at Muncaster. It’s a wonderful place for a gentle stroll: a mile of mostly flat lawn with breathtaking views. If that’s too much to walk in one go - or if you just want to take a relaxing moment of peace and calm - you can stop off at one of the summer houses dotted along the way. Renovated in 1890 and 1999, these sweet wooden structures are ideal for a rest or a picnic.
There’s even more to explore including meadows, woodland, a Japanese garden, and trickling streams. You can easily spend the day taking in the flowers, shrubbery, birds and, if you’re lucky, the occasional deer or red squirrel!
Hawk & Owl Centre
Muncaster Castle's Hawk & Owl Centre has a collection of fascinating birds ranging from tiny pygmy owls to large vultures and falcons. There are also incredible opportunities to see the birds feeding and in flight with daily flying displays taking place throughout the year. Things can get close and personal, too, with many of the birds gracefully gliding right over your head!
For even more birdlife, don’t forget to head to the canon bank to watch the wild herons being fed - this happens every afternoon.
The Hawk & Owl Centre is open every day during the season, and on weekends during low-season (excluding January). Access to the centre, flying displays and the heron feed is included in the price of your general entry ticket. Though Muncaster Gardens are dog-friendly, your four-legged friends aren’t allowed in the centre, though are welcome in the Owl Garden Tearoom. There is also a special doggy seating area for the flying displays on the meadow.
For the kids
There are two children’s play areas and several picnic zones around the grounds as well as large grass spaces to run around and endless woodland and gardens to explore. It really is a wonderland for children of all ages!
For something a little different, the Meadow Vole Maze is brilliant for over 5s. Enter the maze and view life as if you were Max the Meadow Vole! You’ll scurry around in a super-sized version of a meadow habitat, being careful to avoid predators along the way. It’s great fun and educational, too!
Muncaster’s smallest visitors will also love the Enchanted Trail, exploring some hidden corners with stepping stones, fairy doors and woodland dens to be discovered.
There are lots of family-friendly events taking place throughout the year including the Festival of Fools, a food festival and ‘bring your teddy bear’ days.
Muncaster Castle is a vibrant and exciting place, with lots of hugely fun events to pique your interest.
With it’s rumoured hauntings, Halloween is one of the best times to experience Muncaster, and every year there is a host of spook-tacular events to keep your hair on end! With ghost stories, a scary maze, and ghostly goings-on, you’re in for a frightful time!
For those who prefer the bright lights of day, never fear, there’s lots more on offer! Step back in time with Medieval Muncaster, enjoy days of entertainment at the Funcaster Family Festival, or tempt your taste buds with a food festival. Whatever floats your boat, Muncaster holds an event for it!
Food & drink
You could quite easily spend the whole day at Muncaster, exploring the gardens, learning its history, and taking in the views. If that’s the case, you’ll want to keep refreshed, and there’s plenty of ways to do that on-site.
As well as picnic areas around the grounds, there are two café’s: Creeping Kate’s Café is named for one of the family’s most successful ever racehorses and is found in the castle’s former stables. The Owl Garden Tearoom is at the entrance of the Hawk & Owl Centre. Both offer a selection of hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals.
For something a little fancier, why not book yourself an afternoon tea in the castle or - for larger parties - arrange a meal in the grand dining room?
Image by Dave Willis
If you are staying in one of our Lake District cottages in the Eskdale and Wasdale area, then Muncaster Castle really couldn't be more handy! Located in the heart of the Western Lake District, it sits just outside Ravenglass, the only coastal village of the Lake District National Park.
The castle is well signposted on the A595 and the postcode is CA18 1RD.
Parking is free and, for visitors with disability/mobility needs, there is another car park in the heart of the estate that can be accessed via Church Lane. This is approximately half a mile's drive around the corner from the main car park (heading south).
It’s also possible to walk to Muncaster from the village of Ravenglass. There are two routes from the train station either via the main road or via the Eskdale Cycle Trail through the Decoy Wood. This will take you past the Roman Bath House and through delightful scenery.
You can also enjoy a fabulous walk out to Muncaster Castle along Muncaster Fell from our cottages in Eskdale Green – you could leave your car at the La’al Ratty train station and then hike out to Muncaster and have a leisurely trip back on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Miniature Steam Railway.
Find nearby Lake District cottages in Eskdale, Wasdale, Ravenglass or Gosforth.
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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.