Historic Muncaster Castle sits majestically in the beautiful Western Lake District Fells and has something to offer everyone, young and old. Here is a complete guide.
How To Get To Muncaster Castle
Muncaster Castle is located in the heart of the Western Lake District close to the village of Ravenglass in the Lake District National Park.
Muncaster Castle is just off the main A595, that runs down the west coast of Cumbria. The post code is CA18 1RD.
Parking is free.
During the Sumer months parking is in the large, main car park.
During the winter months (November to Easter), parking and entry is via the Church Lane entrance, just under half a mile south of the main car park.
Northern Rail operate the Cumbrian Coast Railway Line, connecting the village of Ravenglass with many towns and villages in the Western Lake District. This includes Carlisle in the north and Barrow-in-Furness in the south.
From Ravenglass you have the choice of 2 routes to walk from the railway station:
The shortest route is via the main road and is about a mile, with a path all the way.
Or, you can follow the Eskdale Trail cycle route, which takes you past the Roman Bath House. This route offers some stunning scenery and takes rough 30 – 40 minutes to walk.
Alternatively, taxis can be booked ahead on Gosforth Taxis 019467 25308.
Muncaster Castle Entrance Fee
Castle with gardens and Hawk & Owl centre: Adult – £19.00
Castle with gardens and Hawk & Owl Centre: Child 3-15 years £9.50
Gardens and Hawk & Owl Centre: Adult – £14.00
Gardens and Hawk & Owl Centre: Child 3-15 years £7.00
Under 3 years old – Free entry
Book online and save 10%. Also it’s cheaper to visit during the winter months.
Muncaster Castle Opening Times
The Castle gardens open 10.30am – 5pm
Muncaster Castle opens 12pm – 4pm
Bird flying displays are at various times throughout the day.
There are lots of different events held during the year that are open to the public.
However, the castle is sometimes closed for private events, especially Saturdays for weddings.
It would be advisable to check muncaster.co.uk ahead of your visit.
Best Time To Visit Muncaster Castle + Tips
Open all year, this is a popular tourist attraction and is busiest during the summer months. Therefore, out of peak season will be a little quieter, although a lot of people also visit during early spring to see the gardens.
Beautiful all year, spring, and in particular the month of May, is said to be the best of the flowering season and when Muncaster Castle gardens are at their blooming best.
The castle is in a wild and hilly location and can be a little muddy, so good footwear is recommended.
There are certain paths that are more accessible for pushchairs etc. The ticket office can give you information about these.
Dogs are allowed in the grounds of the castle but not in the castle or the Hawk and Owl Centre.
Give yourself a full day here to enjoy everything Muncaster Castle has to offer.
What To Pack
History Of Muncaster Castle
It is suspected that the site of Muncaster castle lies on foundations dating back to the Roman era. However, the castle first appeared in a Cumbrian church register in 1577.
Muncaster Castle is presently owned by the Pennington family, who have lived at Muncaster for at least 800 years.
Until her death in 2011, Phyllida Gordon Duff Pennington, along with her husband, worked for three decades to restore the castle.
Consequently, they established it as a very special place for tourism and events and it now has more than 90,000 visitors a year.
After the battle of Towton in 1461, Henry VI fled to Muncaster Castle where Sir John Pennington sheltered him.
Henry gave Sir John Pennington a glass bowl with a prayer that the family might prosper as long as the glass bowl remained unbroken.
The glass bowl is still intact and now known as ‘The Luck of Muncaster’ and the family have prospered!
The last jester at Muncaster Castle, named Thomas Skelton, is believed to be the original Tom Fool and said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Fool in King Lear.
Every year Muncaster castle holds a competition to find a present day jester/fool to celebrate the art of ‘tomfoolery’.
The Fool is appointed at the annual Festival of Fools and performs in an official capacity at various events held over the year at Muncaster Castle.
What To Expect At Muncaster Castle
Overlooking the River Esk, historic Muncaster Castle is surrounded by over 70 acres of beautiful woodland gardens famous for collections of non-native flowers.
Muncaster castle was the first stop on our Ulverston tour and it didn’t disappoint.
This privately owned castle, which has been lived by many generations of the Pennington family for the last 800 years, exudes history and is full of treasures and tales including hauntings!
Wander around this medieval castle and get a glimpse back in time to how the knights and lords who once lived here would have gone about their daily lives.
There is also a reasonably priced gift shop and the Stables Cafe, offering light snacks, main meals, homemade cakes and a selection of hot and cold drinks.
There is a regular programme of events at the castle including festivals, outdoor theatre, historical re-enactors and Halloween Week.
You can also find self-catering and B&B onsite with camping in bell tents available.
Hosting these events and weddings, as well as being open to the public, Muncaster Castle continues to be extended and refurbished to keep it as, not only a family home but open and welcoming to everyone.
Muncaster Castle Gardens
There are 77 acres of woodland gardens surrounding Muncaster Castle that are home to many foreign and unusual plants from all over the world.
Especially famous for its collections of spectacular Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellia, whatever the time of year, there is always something in flower to enjoy in Muncaster Castle Gardens.
Also in the gardens there is an amazing Hawk and Owl Centre that offers regular, breathtaking ‘Owl’ and ‘Birds of Prey’ flying displays.
In addition there is the Meadowvale Maze, the Enchanted Trail, an ancient church, playgrounds and of course miles of woodland walks around the beautiful grounds.
I would definitely recommend this as the perfect family day out with so much to offer for young and old.
Having come from Sizergh Castle the day before this had much more history to it.
Next up on the itinerary was the famous Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway.
Where To Stay In The Lake District
Luxury – Lakes Hotel & Spa
This luxurious hotel is perfectly situated with views of Lake Windermere, a short stroll from the village of Bowness-on-Windermere.
The hotel can arrange collection from Windemere station which is just 10 minutes away.
Lakes Hotel & Spa has some of the best on-site facilities in the area, half of the rooms with hot tubs on private balconies. There’s also an on-site spa, a stylish restaurant and a cocktail bar. As well as bike hire, wakesurfing and paddleboading.
There are many walks that you can take straight from the hotel gates, and there are even boats that travel the length of Windermere, making it easy to visit surrounding areas.
Mid-Budget – The George Hotel by Best Western
This traditional hotel stands in the very centre of the bustling market town of Penrith.
Free parking and free Wi-Fi is available at the property. Meals are available to enjoy in the intimate, candlelit Devonshire restaurant which boasts a beautiful open fire.
The wood panelling and old local wall prints combine to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where many generations of loyal visitors have returned time after time.
Budget – Albany House
Located in Penrith, Albany House offers bed-and-breakfast accommodation with free WiFi access throughout.
Guests benefit from free public parking facilities near the accommodation. The property also boasts a 4 gold-star rating from the AA, along with breakfast awards.
Rooms at Albany House B&B come with a flat-screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities and either an en-suite or external bathroom.
Breakfast is available between 8:00 and 9:00 every morning in the common breakfast room.
For more places to stay in the Lake District, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.