Things to do nearby The Old School at Muncaster
Muncaster Castle sits high above the estuary where the River Esk meets the Irish Sea at Ravenglass. It has a well-deserved reputation as one of Cumbria’s most popular attractions and makes a great rainy day visit where you can learn more about its colourful history.
The original foundations of the building back as Roman times, though construction of the castle that you see today was started in 1258. As you can imagine, Muncaster is steeped in myth and history, with tales of kings and queens, murder and intrigue, and ghostly visitations! Throughout the year there are events taking place including outdoor cinema and theatre as well as the world renowned Fesitval of Fools.
The grounds at Muncaster are just as much of a delight. Watch stunning bird of prey displays, explore a meadow vole maze, enjoy the playpark, café, and shop, and be amazed by the most stunning displays of bluebells, rhododendrons and azaleas when in season. There is also a delightful small church on the castle's grounds that is worth a visit for a moment's quiet reflection.
A favourite walk is over Muncaster Fell, which offers an epic panorama of the highest peaks, and down to the village of Eskdale. Or perhaps you’d prefer an evening stroll to check out the pepperpot beacon that sits proudly on the hillside across the valley.
Ravenglass is the only coastal village within the Lake District National Park. Its gentle, old-fashioned way of life makes it a delightful place to visit. Three rivers meet at Ravenglass (Esk, Irt, and Mite) to form an estuary and natural harbour. 2,000 years ago, it was the location of an important Roman port and military fort and later became a bustling fishing town. Today, Ravenglass is better known as the starting point for the Ravenglass & Eskdale miniature steam railway (locally known as the La’al Ratty). There are several eateries in the village where you can get locally sourced and home cooked food and real ales. There's also a cafe and playpark at the station to while away a sunny afternoon. Why not take a bike and explore either the 11-mile Eskdale Trail or follow some of the Hadrian's Cycleway along the coastline?
The famous Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, more popularly known as the La’al Ratty, is a miniature, narrow gauge steam railway that was originally used to transport iron ore along the valley. Nowadays, it takes a leisurely seven-mile journey from Ravenglass to Boot in Eskdale, with some staggering scenery along the way. With prior arrangement you can put your bikes on the train at either end of the line and cycle back via the Eskdale Trail. You can jump on for the whole route or walk part of the way and catch the train back to your starting point.
In Eskdale you have access to big hikes on the highest fells as well as some lovely walks on the valley floor and along the beautiful River Esk. Take a walk up from Eskdale Green to the wonderfully named Giggle Alley, from where you can head to the Japanese Garden. Further up the valley, as you head up the steep Hardknott Pass, you’ll come to the staggering setting of Hardknott Roman Fort. The fort was built under Hadrian’s rule in the second century. It guarded the pass on the road from Ravenglass to Ambleside and was policed by troops from the eastern Adriatic. Today, visitors can explore remains including the barracks, commandant’s house, parade ground and bathhouse. Or you can simply sit and take in the view, imagining what life was like here nearly 2,000 years ago!
Famously, with England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike), deepest lake (Wastwater), smallest church (St. Olaf’s) and the “Biggest Liar” competition, Wasdale is a region of records! This most mountainous of the Lake District valleys still retains an unspoilt tranquillity that belies its majestic grandeur. From Wastwater in the valley bottom, the Screes climb, seemingly vertically, out of the lake. The valley has hardly changed in hundreds of years, and the natural splendour of the fells and lakes has been preserved in all of its glory.
Walks do not come much more challenging than Scafell Pike, one of the Lake District's most iconic and legendary mountains. At 3,209 feet, it is England's highest mountain and one of the most thrilling climbs in the Lakes. The views from the top have inspired writers such as Wainwright, Wordsworth and Coleridge and on a clear day the views stretch to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and even the Isle of Man.
As for the cycling opportunities in the area, well, where to begin? For mountain biking the area offers trails to suit all abilities with low-level forest trails and more technical bridleways. For roadies you have one of England’s steepest roads (Hardknott Pass) at the head of the Eskdale Valley as well as wonderfully rewarding quiet roads up Corney Fell and Birker Moor. Indeed, many of the Lake Districts most challenging cycling sportives (including the Fred Whitton, the Lakeland Loop and the Tour of the High Passes) pass nearby. If hills aren’t to your taste there are some lovely rides out on the coast with beautiful views.
Golfers are well catered for with Muncaster's own nine hole course as well as popular links courses at nearby Seascale and Silecroft. If you would like your outdoor adventures taken care of by experts, then Westlakes Adventure is a company based in Boot providing outdoor activities for individuals, couples, families and groups. Their activities include rock climbing, ghyll scrambling, paddleboarding and kayaking. Alternatively, why not head to "Horse and Husky" nearby where you could find yourself splashing along the coast on horseback or sledding behind a team of huskies!
For a change of scene, why not explore more of the culture of this coastline? Take a walk or bike ride along the coastline nearby and enjoy the natural surroundings of the beautiful sand dunes at Drigg and Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve. There's a profusion of wading birds to see as well as a fabulous array of other flora and fauna. You could take a walk along to Seascale and reward yourself with a delicious, locally-made ice cream or fish and chips on the seafront!
In August, nearby Gosforth has a large agricultural show that makes a great day out? There's something for everyone to enjoy from children's races to the big attractions in the main show ring. As summer draws to its close, Wasdale and Eskdale both play host to agricultural shows. The Eskdale Show takes place on the last weekend of September. This is a famous Lakeland agricultural show of Herdwick Sheep, which are bred and reared on the surrounding fells. The show also has competition classes for hound dogs, terriers, sheep dogs, poultry and shepherds’ crooks! There are also stalls full of Cumbrian goods, sporting events for children, fell racing, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling events and hound trailing. It’s an excellent window into local farming life and a great day out. The Wasdale Head Show and Shepherds Meet takes place in early October is a great opportunity to mingle with the locals in stunning surroundings. Watch the fell runners making light work of Lingmell, sample the local ale and food stalls and browse the crafts. You can also see vintage machinery and watch the serious business of livestock judging and shows.