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Muncaster Castle

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					Muncaster Castle is one of the biggest attractions in the South Western Lake District
and is a great day out in a stunning location, which is fascinating for adults and offers
loads to do for children. It 鈥檚 within easy reach of several self catering lake district
cottages which would make a great base for visiting the castle.
  The Castle is in a wonderful setting with amazing views of Scafell and the Lakeland
fells to the east and south and a stunning vista out to the west, where the river Esk
meets the sea at Ravenglass.
  The main estate is a 77 acre paradise of history and wonder with beautiful woodland
gardens, fabulous views and amazing wildlife. Not only can you enjoy the 200 owls
on display in the World Owl Centre, if you're lucky, you may even spot the odd deer
or red squirrel that are visit the edges of the gardens.
  Muncaster Castle is a site of tremendous historic interest. The original foundations
of the building itself date back as far as 79AD - construction of the castle that you see
today was started in 1258. As you can imagine with a castle in such an incredible
position on the very edges of the country, it is steeped in history, with tales of kings
and queens of murder and intrigue and ghostly presences everywhere. The gardens
and woodland walks are breathtaking, especially in spring and early summer. The
bluebell woods are an absolutely essential for anyone staying at one of our holiday
cottages in the Lake District in mid to late May and the Rhodedendrons follow on
from that at the start of June and are equally stunning. The Himalayan Gardens
feature many rhododendron specimens that are rarely seen in the West and are
Europe's oldest leading collection.
  There are 2 children 鈥檚 play areas and several picnic areas around the grounds as
well as large grass areas to run around and endless woodland and gardens to explore.
The Max the Meadow Vole Maze is brilliant for over 5 鈥檚. It shows what the world
looks like to a Meadow Vole, as you scurry around in a super-sized version of a
Meadow habitat 鈥?it 鈥檚 great fun and educational as well!
  Muncaster Castle's World Owl Centre has one of the largest collections of these
thrilling birds of prey in existence. The centre is home to a diverse range - from
bizarre fish owls to diminutive pygmy owls which are not much bigger than a sparrow
and has more than 40 different types of these magnificent Owls on display for you to
wonder and enjoy.
  The World Owl Centre is open every day and entry is included in your Gardens
ticket. Every afternoon (Easter to October half-term) a talk is given on the amazing
owls and other birds of prey at the Centre, which is a great opportunity to see the birds
at close quarters, watch them in flight (weather permitting) and take photographs. You
can also watch the wild herons feeding during "Heron Happy Hour".
  At certain times of year you can also enjoy the spectacular 鈥楧 arkest Muncaster
鈥 ?experience; lights, music, sound and special effects transforms Muncaster's
famous Gardens and Castle into an enchanting mystical experience after dark,
guaranteed to amaze and entertain the entire family. This is an experience not to be
missed and is usually included in the day ticket price! (valid on day of purchase)
There is also a cafe on site, which serves meals and infamous home-made cakes.
  A bit more history:
  In 1464 Sir John Pennington gave shelter to Henry VI, wandering after the Battle of
Hexham. Many years later, in 1783, John, Lord Muncaster erected the tower known as
Chapels to commemorate the place where the fugitive King was supposed to have
been found by the shepherds. The legend tells how Holy King Harry on his departure
left his drinking bowl behind in gratitude, saying that as long as it should remain quite
whole and unbroken the Penningtons would live and thrive in the place. Today the
bowl is still intact and is known as the Luck of Muncaster.
  Muncaster Castle has a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in
England. Amongst the ghost stories are that of the ghost of Henry VI (who was
sheltered at Muncaster after his defeat at the battle of Hexham) and the head carrying
ghost of an apprentice carpenter who was decapitated whilst sleeping in the old stable
block by jester Thomas Skelton (Tom The Fool) at the orders of Sir Ferdinand
Pennington because of his love affair with his daughter Helwise. There were even
tales that a lion shot by the last Lord Muncaster in Kenya, and whose skull is kept in
the castle, was sometimes heard prowling (& gently growling) around at nightfall.
  A bit more information about the Gardens:
  The terrace, with its view of Eskdale, is the finest man-made garden structure at
Muncaster. As well as extending and remodelling the Castle in the early 1780's, the
first Lord Muncaster carried out huge improvements to the gardens. He planted
hundreds of thousands of trees, opened up many new walks through the gardens and
built the grand entrance gates and laid out the half mile long terrace with its summer
houses which were renovated in 1890 and 1999. The alternating yew pillars and box
hedge planted in the 19th Century provide protection from the chill winds which can
blow from the high fells. This allows many plants to flourish here including some
Mediterranean species which elsewhere in the UK would require a glass house in
winter. There is a fine collection of magnolias, camellias, and maples, as well as
hydrangeas and a large collection of unusual trees. The terrace links to Church Wood,
home to many winter flowering rhododendrons and to a colourful collection of
Japanese maples which are at their best in summer.
  The Sino Himalayan Gardens are a particularly fabulous part of the grounds and are
a wonderful place to soak everything in in peace and tranquillity. Standing at almost
sea level in the Himalayan gardens of Muncaster is startlingly similar to being 3350
metres (11,000ft) high in the Himalayan foothills. Here plants from all over the world
nestle in the wild splendour of over 70 acres of gardens with the romantic backdrop of
the glorious Lakeland Fells.
  Location
  If you are staying in one of several cottages in the lake district near the Eskdale and
Wasdale area, then Muncaster Castle really couldn't be more handy - it is located in
the heart of the Western Lake District and, uniquely, is in the only coastal village of
the Lake District National Park, Ravenglass.
  The castle is well signposted on the A595, just to the east of Ravenglass. The
postcode is CA18 1RD. Parking is free and for visitors with disability/mobility
concerns, there is a car park in the heart of the estate which can be accessed via
Church Lane. This is approximately 1/2 mile around the corner from the main car
park (heading south).
 Walking from Ravenglass to Muncaster: 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.
 It is also a fabulous walk out to Muncaster Castle along Muncaster Fell from any
number of Lake District cottages in Eskdale Green 鈥?you could leave your car at the
Ratty station and then hike out to Muncaster and have a leisurely trip back on the
Ravenglass and Eskdale miniature steam railway. Reception at the castle is open
8.30am - 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm Saturday and Sunday and the
information office number is: 01229 717 614.
 There are several self catering lake district cottages around the Muncaster Castle
area, just follow the link Lake District cottages

				
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posted:2/23/2011
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