Muncaster – haunted castle, glorious gardens and renowned bird centre

MuncasterCharming Muncaster with its haunted castle, glorious gardens and renowned bird centre provides an enjoyable day out in a scenic setting in the Western Lake District. Home of the Pennington family, there truly is something for everyone here with plenty to entertain young and old alike.

Muncaster’s Hawk and Owl centre offers the chance to get up close to some stunning birds of prey and admittance is included in the price of entry to the castle’s extensive grounds. Displays and talks by the falconers are a regular feature; unique to Muncaster is the spectacle of the daily heron feed, when dozens of these wild birds fly in to the Cannon Bank in front of the castle for their afternoon tea.

The building itself dates back to pre-Norman times and stands on Roman foundations occupying a prominent site overlooking delightful Eskdale. Its interior is richly furnished and decorated with family heirlooms. Several rooms are open to the public and each has its own fascinating story to tell, from ghost sightings to the tale of Tom Fool, Muncaster’s 16th-century court jester.

Any visit would not be complete without exploring Muncaster’s magnificent gardens and grounds, taking in the shop, tearoom and – a highlight for younger visitors – the children’s playground. The gardens were created in the 18th century and house an important collection of rhododendrons, exotic trees and shrubs. Some of the main attractions here include the Georgian Terrace with its summerhouses, box hedging and Japanese maples and the Himalayan Gardens.

From mid-April to mid-May, the ancient coppiced woodlands above the castle are described as ‘bluebell heaven’. At the end of May, Muncaster hosts an annual festival, culminating with the International Jesters’ Tournament on the final day.

For more information about opening times, prices, travel directions and special events at the castle, visit the website.